26 February 2012

Personal Connections 28.2.12

Please note I will set this on Tuesday.

This week visit our new Communities wiki for instructions.

Plus: Tracks and reading

23 February 2012

Our New Unit of Inquiry

Welcome to 'Communities'! This is our fourth unit this year and it falls under the transdisciplinary theme 'How we organise ourselves'. We started the new unit by heading down to visit The Wall and finding where our unit falls in our school programme of inquiry. We usually start here as it is good to put our learning into context. The students from last year remembered we had investigated systems that helped us get organised in school and at home. This unit will build on the understandings we took away. We've already noted that word 'system' is a big concept word.

The conversation naturally moved into talking about what a community is. Some students made suggestions such as a community is somewhere they live. From here we dashed back upstairs and jotted down any thoughts we had at this initial stage. Next we used the 'Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate' routine we used on Tuesday. Each student wrote down groups they belonged to. It was interesting to hear students asking could they be part of a group on line, at a church, in school.........the ideas flowed very quickly. Then in groups the students sorted and connected their ideas, finally checking everyone was clear about the groups. We've generated a big selection of groups including family, friends, Teuflibach, clubs, ISOCS, religious groups and nationalities. Our next stage is to ask: Are these groups communities? How can you define the term community? The photographs show us working in a groups:

21 February 2012

What makes a good performance?

Please check out Mr. V's new blog Maths Inquirers! This blog keeps you informed about mathematics in the Middle Primary Class. Use the subscribe option on the right hand column to keep you updated.

Today, one of our main tasks was to think about the criteria for putting on a successful poetry performance. To gather and generate ideas we visited our wiki and watched ourselves performing our sound poems, viewed the London Schools' poetry site and then read information from two websites. We used the Visible Thinking routine 'Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate' to collect and organise our thinking. Students recorded one idea per post it note as they listened and read.  Here's the rest of the routine step by step in pictures:

The students are ready with their ideas on post its.
The question is at the centre of the map. 
The students go around in turn reading out their idea and place it on the chart.
The students begin to group similar ideas together as the routine progresses.
Students finalise the groupings and draw a line around each group.
They make and explain connections between groups.
They then elaborate by discussing some of the groupings they have made
Students make sure all the post its are stuck down!
The concept map is complete and on display.
Our final steps next week will be to label each group and create a rubric so we can assess our performances we are currently putting together for you!

20 February 2012

Thinking Made Visible

We are always using the word 'think': What do you think of that? What are you thinking? Use your brain and think! Think harder! However we seldom stop to think about what does 'thinking' actually involve.

Researchers at Harvard University have been looking at why thinking is a fundamental to learning. They've discovered that it's crucial for us all to be alert to the opportunities to think and care about wanting to think deeply. It's also important for us all to understand how we learn and be aware of our own thinking processes (metacognition). Without thinking deeply we do not truly understand what we are trying to learn or become enthusiastic, independent learners.  In order to help students (and adults) uncover their thinking Visible Thinking has developed routines to help us think deeper and suggested ways to share our thinking and make it visible. I've used a number of these routines since I was exposed to these ideas while in my previous post and by attending a Visible Thinking workshop two years ago. Before the holiday I held a workshop for our teachers to explore why developing a culture of thinking is crucial for our students and helped them develop the practical tools to do this. It is an ongoing professional inquiry for us here at ISOCS.

In our class today we used the Visible Thinking routine called Chalk Talk. I actually started by showing students a Chalk Talk the teachers had created as a model. I then set out a number of questions to find out the students' thoughts about our closing unit. They then went from question to question adding their responses. It had real power because the students could not talk! In fact they expressed how they liked the experience of just focusing on their own ideas at first in silence and then being able to read all of the students' ideas. They could add comments or write questions or answers to what was written. This routine ensured everyone was 'heard' equally and really given time to respond. At the end of the lesson we could see how the 'discussion' on paper had grown. We'll have this routine displayed (or visible) when you visit next Wednesday.

Which Learner Profile/Attitude were you in this unit? Why?
What questions or wonderings do you have now?
What surprised you in this unit?
What surprised you in this unit?
Discussing the responses at the end of the lesson

Personal Connections 20.2.12

Please check out your Learning Log task on our wiki.

In addition:
Reading (fiction and non-fiction)