29 December 2011


Force-O-Rama from ISOCS on Vimeo.
At the end of the unit of inquiry into Force and Motion, the Middle Primary Class at ISOCS decided to present a Force-O-Rama (based loosely on their visit to Technorama Science Museum in Winterthur). This 20 minute video tells the story of a whole day of preparation.

Music by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com/ used by permission under an Attribution Creative Commons license.

13 December 2011

Getting inside the mind of the poet

I am encouraging the students to just pick up a poem book and see where it might fall open. This way you might come across something new and surprising. Today I picked up a collection by Shel Silverstein and came across two very different poems. One called 'The Crocodile's Toothache' was just downright funny. The second really got us talking. After we had read 'Lester' I asked students what would they like to ask the poet. Out of this emerged a discussion about wishes. Why did he choose three, why not, two or four? Why did the wishes keep multiplying? Some students begun to be the poet and find answers to these questions. As an adult I thought, 'Oh yes, everyone would have made the connection to how often wishes come in threes in fairy tales', but the students clearly didn't. Sometimes we assume too much. It was great to unravel our ideas. Some said, well families come in threes so it's a good number, the number can be lucky, it's not too little or too small...............

Then our discussion came to the message behind the poem. It was interesting to hear very opposite views being expressed, but we discussed the concept of perspective and how we should try to be open to differing views. I listened, occasionally putting in a comment  but really trying to let the students have the space to pursue their ideas. Some students came to the conclusion the poem was all about not being greedy, some that you should enjoy what you have, others that if you had that many wishes you could use them to help others.

Discussing "Lester" from ISOCS on Vimeo.
As part of their unit of inquiry into the "The Voice of the Poet" the Middle Primary Class at ISOCS listened to "Lester" by Shel Silverstein, and then talked about what they thought the poet was trying to say...

You can also visit Shel Silverstein's website for children. The presentation is very original and you can also listen to the poet perform his work. 

If you come across any great poems please send them in for us to share.


12 December 2011

Personal Connections (Homework) 12.12.11

Top Secret task:
Please practice your lines for Wednesday's presentation.

For after the break:
Please learn your rhyme and finger movements to teach the EY when we come back in January 2012.

For during the break:
Have a fabulous time with your family and friends!

06 December 2011

How We Express Ourselves

Our third unit of inquiry falls under the transdisciplinary theme: How we express ourselves. So I asked the questions: What does express mean? How can we express ourselves? The students' responses are below:

How to show your feelings.
Express means show your feelings.
Also to be yourself and show what you like and who you really are.
You can do different things to express yourself poems, acting, talking, singing and really many ways. Teaching probably too.
You can express yourself by doing hobbies you like. You can show what you don’t like by not doing them.
You can also express yourself by sign language, by writing and by talking. So many different ways. Animals even communicate e.g. dogs bark when they are happy, they talk to each other.
You can also express yourself by facial expressions and by what you like and you don’t like. You can say it if you like it or don’t like it.
Do animals talk to other animals in y language we don’t know?
You can express yourself through art. You can make sad paintings. You can show you are happy by an exciting painting. You can make abstract painting.
Last year we expressed ourselves with Ms. Slavka. She put some music on and we said how it made us feel. We wrote about it.
We also listened to and relaxed to music.We made imaginary stories. We talked about our imagination.
Animals can express their feelings if we spend time looking at them. Perhaps we can find out what they are trying to say.
You can also express your feelings by puppet shows, by showing shops with paintings, paintings, museums. You can show your feelings in a book and in a diary.
You can build giant structures to express your feelings. It could be a landmark.
I looked at my dog when she wasn’t looking. I waited and you can see what they do when nobody is there.  When my dog is bored she runs around. She treats a toy like her food, she throws it around.

It was fascinating to gather the students ideas together this really is a pre-assessment. I was delighted to see some of the past connections they made with previous express units, as well as connections to the world they have observed around. I was interested to see the word communication beginning to emerge as this is our Learner Profile and skills focus in this unit.

It's amazing how fast you can write a poem. We brainstormed lots of verbs, adjectives and nouns about ourselves and then chose the best to each create an individual line. We wrote these straight into a class poem. I really wanted students to see how spontaneous writing can be. We even stood up and performed it together, noticing that there were certain patterns in our poem. Someone made a link, noticing that we could read it with a rhythm, just like in a dance or music.

In Our Class......
An active, sporty tennis player.
An awesome, quick rowing guy.
A sporty, skilled football player.
A cool, energetic thinking girl.
An amazing, fast running boy.
A smart, fast thinking teacher.
An awesome, cool, strong kid.
An awesome, speedy, computerish student.
An intriguing, little, energetic runner.
A creative, helpful student.
A lover of my country.
A clever, good horseback riding girl.

(Understanding where to use commas came in useful too! Brainpop had a useful video and we consulted a grammar book too.)

Our poem is on the Starboard behind us

05 December 2011

Personal Connections (Homework) 5.12.11

To help start our new inquiry into the arts we are going to go back to our first experiences connected to poetry.  'Incy Wincy Spider' will always have a special place in my heart! Think about a nursery rhyme that you loved as a young child. It should be in the language you first heard it. Bring a copy of the rhyme into school. On the new wiki respond to the questions I have set.

Plus: Tracks and reading

30 November 2011

Place Value and Assessment

We’ve wrapped up our exploration into measurement for the time being. The class are now moving onto an inquiry into the concept of place value, although there are many connections to be made with measurement. 

Mr. Vasiliy will be assessing the students over the next few days, finding out where the children are in their understanding. There are a wide variety of diagnostic tasks that will be placed in the portfolios for you to share with your child. These are taken from our maths resource First Steps Mathematics. After assessment we can then decide where the students should go next. We can also see where the students are on the mathematics continuums that we send home to you at the end of a unit.

Have a look around for numbers and notice how they are used. Are they used as a code, for counting or ordering?  Practice saying numbers together at every opportunity.


Try out these games on Maths Masters to help develop an understanding of an incredibly important concept that underpins many elements of mathematics. 
images: razorleaf.com & zoonar.com

29 November 2011

Comic Life

Today we used our trip to Technorama as a reason return to a favourite program called Comic Life. We wrote captions, speech bubbles and thought bubbles to capture moments from our trip and reflect on what we learned. It's amazing how quickly we have learned to select, import and change our photographs from Flickr. Our comic book is published and in the classroom!

''I liked that you can do so many things, you can make your writing bold, you can twist your words. I just love it.'' A

''You can use your inspiration to do so many things. You can choose the colour, you can change the style, there are so many opportunities.'' D

''You can also use it for important things. You can also make an imaginary world. You could publish it and make lots of comics.'' N

'You can use Comic Life for birthday cards, for persuading people, you can make things like cards and books for people.'' D

''Maybe you could try it at home.'' A

Here are the pages we made. (You can see them on Flickr too.)


28 November 2011

Personal Connections (Homework) 28.11.11

Force and Motion: The Summative Assessment

This week I would like you to choose an interesting object/game/toy/machine from home that moves. Bring this into school as we are going to use it to create our own Force-o-rama! (This was a brilliant idea from some students while we were on our field trip.)

In your Learning Log make a diagram of your object and label what is happening to make it move and stop.  Think about all the scientific vocabulary we have learned. Use our brainstorm below:

force, motion, accelerate, decelerate, push, pull, friction, gravity, increase, decrease, speed, velocity, propel, movement, stop, momentum, repel, attract, change, tilt, slope, transform, energy, technical

You will also be explaining verbally and in written form the forces at work that make your object move and stop, but you will do this at school. This will be your opportunity to show everything you know about our unit of inquiry.

Plus: Tracks & reading

Due date: Monday 5th December

Writing to Recount and Handwriting

Today we shared our recounts of last week's trip to Technorama. It was so interesting to hear the highlights and experiences of each student's trip.

Last week we tried out building a rubric to help us assess our explanation writing, so this week we made a rubric to assess our recount writing. We write recounts throughout the year so it's important for the students to be very clear about this purpose for writing. Together we developed criteria for recounts and then we looked to see if our writing matched the criteria. 'Criteria' is a word we will be hearing a lot over the year. In our school students are encouraged to reflect on their own work and have a clear idea of what 'good' looks like. You will find the trip recounts and rubrics in our portfolios.

Mr. Vasiliy has returned to handwriting skills with the students as our next unit is connected to expressing ourselves. It is the ideal time to look at our written communication. Students are aiming to create a legible and neat style that is easily read by others. Linking letters comes with practice so this will develop over time. Posture and pencil grip are all part of this skill, so please revisit last year's blog post about handwriting to find some handy tips.

22 November 2011


Today's trip to Technorama was an explosion of hands on activity! The students experienced energy transferring when exploring Newton's Cradle, they saw force and motion at work to move the marble down the run, they played with and transformed 2D and 3D shapes, they estimated and calculated quantity, they built structures using arches to name a few of the brilliantly thought out activities..............no wonder our brains were exhausted! Have a look at our slide show below. It was wonderful to hear students using scientific language to explain what they observed and think of ways to extend their investigations.
Building structures

Solving a problem together


 Investigating a marble run to demonstrate force and motion 

21 November 2011

Investigating Gravity

Today we followed up our questions from last week. What would happen if we dropped different objects from the same height?

We made our predictions and discussed how we could make our test fair. Most of us were genuinely surprised to discover how two different balls could actually hit the floor at the same time. (It was tricky to see that final moment when the objects reached the ground!) We had discovered something new about gravity and acceleration! We tried to grapple with  the idea of mass and how everything is made of 'stuff' that gives it mass. However, we weren't surprised when a feather or flat piece of paper took longer to reach the ground. We knew that was air resistance or friction at work. We talked about how scientists create a vacuum to test objects but we had to contend with air resistance in the classroom. 

''I learned that light objects like a feather or paper are affected more by air resistance than heavier things like a ball.''

''I thought that all of the objects would fall differently but some objects fell at the same time.''

Here are the scientists at work:

Here's something to experiment with at home tonight:
Try holding a book in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. Drop them at the same time. (The bigger the book the cooler the affect will be.) Watch what happens. Then take the paper and place it on top of the book and drop them both once again. Watch what happens. Why?
From: http://answers.yahoo.com 

Personal Connections (Homework) 21.11.11

Tonight do the paper and book experiment.

Then for the rest of the week I would like you to write a recount of our visit to Technorama. You can word process or write by hand but you should go through each of the writing processes:

Plan      - 5Ws (You can make your own planning sheet or use the class planner)
Draft    - get all your ideas down
Confer  - check in with another person and read it out aloud, listen to suggestions
Refine  - do you sentences make sense, are there words you can change, are your sentences punctuated and words spelt correctly?
Publish  - neat and easy to read

Remember a recount framework has three parts:

Setting/Orientation         - 5Ws
Events                             - in order, using linking words for sequence
                                         - begin a new paragraph for each event/ change in time
Concluding Statement    -  highlight the best parts and experiences

Your writing should include detail about the things you observed and learned. Please bring all parts of your recount into school for marking.

Due date: Monday 28th November

Plus: reading, Tracks

16 November 2011

Sharing Our Learning About Measurement

Today the students presented their new understanding about measurement at our school's Celebration of Learning. Each photograph shows a group presenting different attributes connected to measurement.
The girls demonstrated the use of a variety of measuring tools to make linear measurements in centimetres and metres.
This group asked the audience to think of things that weigh less than a gram. Then they measured a variety of objects and read out the measurement in grams.
The boys showed a variety of liquid measurements using jugs and water. They read out each jug's capacity in litres and millilitres.  They shared how they had discovered centilitres too.  We noticed they made a connection to fractions too when talking about quarter and half litres.

This group used multiplication to calculate the area of each flag with squares as the unit. They also taught us how to calculate the perimeter of a shape.

What goes up must come down!

On Tuesday I asked the students to jump into the air and stay there! Funnily enough we all came back down to earth! Why did this happen? Were there forces at work? We all agreed gravity was acting on our bodies, but that's when the conversation really got interesting. We have a bit of tension. Some of us think objects falling to earth will land at the same time, others think not. Some of us think it depends on the mass (or is it weight) of an object. Then J pointed out how a paper airplane glides rather than falling directly. Is this connected to friction, air resistance, surface area or......We talked about how it was absolutely fine for us all to have different ideas and different explanations for our theories, but as scientists we must test out these ideas. If you have different objects like table tennis balls, bouncy balls, two items that weigh the same but are different, feathers or anything that would be interesting to test but it's not breakable, please send it in for Monday. The more objects the better. 

We also looked at the great selection of gravity videos on our wiki to help us build our understanding. Sir Issac Newton popped up again but this time with an apple falling on his head! Have another look at home.

P.S. Mr. V. and I are absolutely thrilled by the latest Learning Logs connected to capacity. Thank you for all your help to make these happen! The students will be sharing these in class.

14 November 2011

Get on your Scooter!

This unit has been all about the students experiencing force and motion in a number of practical ways. Today was no exception. We started off reading through Newton's Three Laws of Motion. This was followed by a section about the physics behind a bicycle ride. We collected a wide range of vocabulary that explained the various stages and forces on a ride.

acceleration - speeding up
deceleration - slowing down
air resistance
increase/ decrease
action/ reaction
starting off
free wheel

We then split into two groups. One group scooted the circuit around the school twice. We had to think about what we were doing, what the scooter was doing and the impact of the path surface. The second group walked the circuit mapping the surfaces, slopes and landscape features. Our mapping skills from last year came into good use here. Some of us hadn't realised there was a gentle slope outside the school, it had appeared flat. What a difference it made to our scooting. Then we swapped over groups. So far we've drafted the map with notes. Tomorrow we'll finish off the maps, each with a key, and record what happened at each stage of the scooter run. A is also going to explain momentum to us and we'll look at acceleration in more detail. I must admit, it was all rather exhilarating!

Personal Connections (Homework) 14.11.11

This week the students have two tasks:
1. Complete the task at the front of the portfolio. I have asked students to think and record why they have a portfolio. Please discuss this as you share the folder together.
2. Complete the wiki post about friction. Remember to check back on all those friction links. They are now on the friction page on the Force and Motion wiki.

Plus reading and Tracks.

Date due: Monday 21st November

09 November 2011

The Showcase

It was an absolute delight to see you all in class today. The students loved having the opportunity to share their learning with you. Here are a few shots from today, the video we premièred and the link to our curriculum overview for the year.

Inquiring into the Learner Profile from ISOCS on Vimeo.

08 November 2011

Friction 2

We saw lots of friction in the concluding part of our car experiments today. The students shared their observations and theories back in class. We definitely agreed that friction was 'strongest' in the gravel and the least friction was offered by the classroom floor.
Testing out friction
I asked students to record what they learned and then each student shared their understanding. We also completed the procedure writing format for experiment write-ups. We now are very clear that friction is at work, but 'what' is it? To help us understand more we looked at a variety of sources, as well as students demonstrating examples of friction e.g. walking across our classroom in socks can be a very slippery experience as opposed to slippers with rubber soles! It was very interesting to see how we returned to the idea of air and water offering resistance. We discovered that is friction too! One group noted and discussed how bicycle helmets, racing bikes, racing cars, airplanes and sailing boats have all been designed to minimise friction from the air and water.

Have a look at these links and videos to revise the big ideas we've discovered about friction today:

ICT blog at ISOCS
Our Force and Motion Wiki (Check this link as we were really surprised to discovered everything is rough and jagged!)
What is friction?

We also read:

''Moving objects would keep going forever if no other force acted upon them. When you give your scooter a push, what slows it down? It’s a force called friction. Friction slows down moving objects and brings them to a stop. Friction happens when any material rubs against another material.''
Motion: Scholastic

Start thinking about where friction is useful and not useful. This will be next week's Learning Log focus.

07 November 2011


Last time the students showed a big interest in finding out about friction, so with the help of my son's cars we got investigating. Having explored Newton's First Law of Motion we've learned that on earth objects will eventually stop moving. We are thinking that friction has something to do with this as a force has to be acting on the object to make it stop or change direction.

Today we looked for lots of different surfaces to test out our friction ideas. We predicted that a toy car would move differently depending on the surface, but that it would come to a stop. C explained how a toy car would move much further if we pushed it across ice as there was less friction. So after making our predictions we started testing the cars inside. We had discussed why we should try and push the car with the same force each time, although this is tricky! As our inquiry progressed some students became interested in what happened when we pushed a car down a slope. We found out that a tilt made a big difference to the speed of the car, although it was eventually brought to a halt when it met the carpet.

We've recorded what we've observed so far. We'll add more thoughts tomorrow when we head outside and write up the procedure. I can see it's the perfect time to introduce acceleration, as this has naturally evolved out of our discussions today.

Setting up a slope
Testing it out
Cars on paper
Cars on the rug
Next Monday, please bring in your scooters and helmets as we have some exploring to do on wheels!

G brought in two practical examples of force and motion today. In the second example G demonstrated perfectly how a slinky at rest stays at rest until he starts to move it! We observed the effect of gravity and how when A put her hand underneath she could bring the slinky back to rest. We have the equipment in school to try out.

Learning Log
The log is a practical exploration of capacity. Instructions are in your child's bag.
Plus reading and Tracks (for my spelling groups).
Due date: Monday 14th November

04 November 2011


Our mathematics focus is all about measurement. The students have been busily measuring just about everything in class and discovering all the different attributes they can measure. Be sure to check out the new games posted on Maths Masters. Also look out for real life measuring situations as you go about your day.

We are using the clock each time we go through our daily schedule. A student sets the time on a clock face as another other student reads out the event. This is a very practical application for time telling. We're also keeping track of the time as we discuss our weekends during Headlines. Try to use the time as much as possible at home too.

25 October 2011

Feel the Force!

We started the day with a brand new book on forces 'Can You Feel the Force?: Putting the Fizz Back into Physics'. (What a great recommendation from Tammy.) We discovered physics is a real action packed science! After reading that motion is the result of a push or a pull, we had to try it our for ourselves. We tried out a variety of pushes and pulls with a partner, discovering what happens when the forces are equal or unequal. (All after the appropriate safety warnings!)

We had that great moment when a student poses a question and the students propose their own ideas as to why something is happening. D wondered, if he moved suddenly when he and his partner were pushing equally,why his partner lost his balance but he seemed to stay relatively stable. (We noticed on closer inspection D did move his body a bit to keep balanced.) His partner's reaction was also different when he was forewarned of the movement. The idea of structure, balance, stability, equal & unequal force was a big talking point in this lesson. All of these opportunities have the students figuring out how the world is working. 

Connecting with our language focus on Writing to Explain, we recorded our explanations about what was happening during our 'push and pull' experiments.

Continuing our explanation theme we then came back to Newton's first law of motion and puzzled why the law says that moving things will keep moving in a straight line at a constant speed, when our experience is that things generally come to a stop or seem to 'run out of energy'. This led to an explosion of discussions about friction, air resistance, football, airplanes, car crashes, smoothing surfaces to offer less friction, ice skating, waxing skiis............................. We're beginning to explore this idea of friction, but we need to experiment a lot more and research into this. We're wondering (among other things) why a plane can take a longer amount of time to go on the same journey on a different day. Could it be to do with the wind direction or strength? What is air resistance? Is this linked to friction? Can you reduce friction? Why does oil and ice help you move or slide more easily? Does the surface of a football effect how it moves through the air? Is a smooth ball better for football? Does wind direction help a ball move faster or slower through the air? Does the surface of a field effect how far a ball rolls? Why does Miss Judy wax her skis? Is it better to have an airbag or not in a car crash? Why do we have seat belts? 

For me, it's really interesting to see where the students would like to take the inquiry next and support them with ways to do this. My hardest job is sometimes to know when to keep quiet(!) and see if the students can find their own solutions to their questions collectively and not rely on me to come up with the explanations. It's truly amazing to see them work through their ideas, often disagreeing, building on another's idea, feeling the tension when they almost think they've worked it out............and the satisfaction when they know they've got it!

N showed us how to do an interesting experiment where you count to 30 while applying pressure to your partner's hands and vice versa. Then you hold your hands close together and move them backwards and forwards gently. Here is N explaining what to do before we all tried it out. What a strange sensation we experienced!

P.S. I set a Learning Log today. It is due Thursday 3rd November. The instructions are stuck inside the journal.