Class Debate

 

As part of our learning on homophones and homonyms, this week we had a close look at that pesky trio to, two and too.

After using our mini whiteboards for lots of practice, a problem was then presented (supposedly sent from The Official International Bureau for the English Language)…

“TO/TWO/TOO – there are TOO many! You have TO decide which one must go so we only have TWO!”

In small groups, students were asked to decide which word we could do away with and to provide reasons for their decision. This created some lively discussions and students had to think deeply about the meaning and usage of each word. As always, creativity was rewarded and points went to one team who suggested a brand new word for the number two – ‘mog’. Brilliant!

We debated the final result as a whole class and had fun doing so. A particularly convincing example highlighted concern for Shakespeare, as without ‘to’ his famous line would be a little lacking – ‘…be or not be that is the question…’ Not bad for 10 year olds!

I’ve used the debate format only a few times before. After a lesson on measuring length we debated that millimetres were too small and therefore unnecessary. I would love to hear of any interesting debate topics you have used in your classroom to elicit critical thinking and reflection. Please share!

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Pinch Pots

Pinch Pots

This week my students have enjoyed sculpting and painting mini pinch pots for their mums in anticipation of Mothers’ Day.

We used Das air dry clay in both white and terracotta and I allowed for roughly 200 grams of clay per student. The instructions for the pinch pots were very straightforward, we simply rolled the clay into a ball then stuck in our thumb to create a hole. Then, by holding the clay in one hand and turning it constantly, we were able to use our other hand to thin and even out the edges of the pot. Some students were especially creative and turned theirs into heart shapes or their mother’s initial. Others used tools such as wooden skewers and texta lids to make patterns and marks in their designs.

I was able to discuss connections with this project and our new science unit ‘Materials and Their Properties’ by teaching new vocabulary such as ‘malleable’ and ‘pliable’. It’s always nice when topics are interrelated!

After two days of drying (the weather has been cold lately) we were ready to paint. We opted for neon colours as well as some beautiful metallic copper, gold and silver paints.

There were some beautiful results!

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Q and U

Q and U

In spelling this week my Grade Fours celebrated the wedding of Q and U. This memorable occasion was, of course, to remind students that these two letters are always together in words. Students worked together in small groups to design and construct a QU wedding cake out of plasticine.

Some groups even challenged themselves to decorate their cake with QU words – can you spy a question mark, an equals sign, an antique chest of drawers, a queen’s crown and a quaint man’s black hat?!

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Here’s hoping this creative, hands on task will strengthen their spelling skills and see them never separate Q and U again…’til death do they part!

A Reflective Excursion

A Reflective Excursion

On our latest class outing we did away with the traditional excursion worksheets, where meaningless facts, dates and answers are painstakingly copied out from museum display signs for fear of students not ‘learning’ anything during the experience. Instead we went for a much more meaningful and enjoyable option.

In their concertina-style reflection booklets students were asked to draw what they wanted to remember from the various places we visited. They also had sections for jotting down facts and feelings if they felt the need (a touch of De Bono and his coloured hats).

The other pages were ‘Questions to Ask the Experts’ and an A-Z brainstorming list of words associated with the topics covered on the excursion (a nice reflective activity for those fast eaters looking to fill in some extra time during our lunch break).

Thank you TMAG Education Team for suggesting this type of creative approach. Instead of nagging my students to complete their worksheets, they were free to simply be inspired and engaged by their experience.

Throughout the day I would look around and see someone doing a quiet sketch of something that had taken their eye, or another referring back to a question they had thought of to ask the tour guides, and others writing down certain facts that had interested them. Our booklets suited many types of learners and my students were in charge of their own museum adventure.

Verbs with Tin Foil

Verbs with Tin Foil

Can you guess each action?

We chose our favourite verb and then made these tin foil sculptures to represent the action.

We’re about to begin our unit on narrative writing – I’m thinking these tin foil on black paper collages would make excellent illustrations for their stories when published into little books…? I’ll keep you posted!

Thank you Mrs T for the pinspiration!

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Mini Whiteboards

Mini Whiteboards

Something new to my classroom this year was the purchase of a class set of mini whiteboards. My students were extremely chuffed to receive their very own whiteboard marker and couldn’t wait to get started incorporating these ‘new toys’ into our lessons and activities.

It’s been so liberating for them to be able to participate instantly in class discussions by writing or drawing their ideas, instead of wearing out their raised arm waiting for their chance to speak. They simply hold up their board and I am able to acknowledge their contribution and classmates can simply see each other’s thoughts.

Instructional teaching sessions have become much more engaging and dynamic with these boards in my students’ laps. So far we have used them for brainstorming, history timelines, scoreboards, maths quizzes, class voting, note taking and summarising.

To top it all off, it’s been an excellent way to reduce our use of paper in the classroom!

I first heard of using these mini whiteboards through UK educator, Dylan Wiliam, and am on the look out for more innovative uses of these amazing little tools, so please share!

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Wool and Stick Initials

Wool and Stick Initials

These beautiful, rustic creations were undertaken as a First Week of School activity. Students were asked to construct their first name initial out of sticks from the playground and then wrap them with colours and patterns of their choice.

Such a straight-forward sounding activity in fact evolved into a lesson in problem solving, patience, perseverance, collaboration, cooperation and knot tying. Upon completion of my 1000th knot for the day, I felt I had got to know my new students quite well – those who could cope with challenge and those who needed more guidance; the perfectionists and the more abstract thinkers; those who could tie a knot and those who could not…

The end products were well worth the effort!

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Class Museum Curator

Class Museum Curator

The excitement builds every Friday afternoon in anticipation of…the selection of the new Museum Curator!

We pull out a name and then the space belongs to them for the following week. Students are able to display their collections, interests, artworks, artefacts and so on. The curator gives us a guided tour and their classmates love to point out all the personal connections they have made. It’s been powerful way to get to know each other.

Some curators provide labels, or even informational handouts. Some change their display a number of times during their week. It’s all up to them!

Push and Pull Creations

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Although they may look like glued together piles of junk, rest assured our students were immensely proud of their Push and Pull Machines. In yet another Scrapheap Challenge, this one at the commencement of our science unit on forces, students’ teamwork skills were put to the test to design a device which incorporated both a push and pull force.

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Magnet Mazes

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Miss M’s Grade 4 class were learning about contact and non-contact forces. As a tuning-in activity, students were given a paperclip, a magnet and a shoebox lid. Their design brief was to create a maze for their paperclip to travel through, guided by the non-contact force of the magnet. Of course, things got pretty creative straight away with water jumps, tunnels, bridges and race tracks incorporated into plans. This exploration phase of the lesson raised many questions for the budding scientists, which they later went on to test (Will the paperclip make it up the slope with a stronger magnet? Will magnetic force work in water?). They only had 20 minutes to complete the task, but they would have happily worked on their designs all day.

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