27 March 2012

Personal Connections (Homework) 27.3.12

This week we are learning how to draw tables and bar graphs correctly. Remember our rules:

  • Always use a ruler. 
  • Every graph has a title.
  • Label the x and y axes.
  • Check the scale is labelled from 0 correctly.

Here is the data we collected in class about the Cantons we live in:

Number of people living in each Canton

Here is the data we collected in class about the Gemeindes we live in:

Number of people living in each Gemeinde
Hausen am Albis
Affoltern am Albis

Use the data to make bar graphs for each using this graph website. If you would like to create a pie chart, go ahead.

Try out this website too and create two graphs. You can change the scale and label the axes. There are instructions at the bottom of the page.

Print all the graphs and stick them in your Learning Log. Next write 3-6 questions and answers you could ask of the two subjects.

Example: How many people were surveyed? 14

e.g. newspapers, magazines, advertisements

Tracks: Next week I will review your Tracks words from the term. I am not setting new words this week.
Reading: At least 10minutes per night (Make sure you are up to date with book exchanges on Thursdays with Mr. V)

Due: Monday 2nd April

26 March 2012

Our Trip to the Gemeindehaus

A big thank you to Martin Mengis, theGemeindeschreiber, and Bruno Werder, our Gemeinde President,  for today's informative trip. We really appreciated their time and patience to answer our many questions.

As we arrived at the Gemeindehaus we were led into a very comfortable meeting room where we sat around a big table. Hr. Mengis first showed us some slides of the history of Cham which took us back to our investigations into the lake dwellers last year. He then took our questions, using large scale maps to help us see details such as Cham's borders, roads, buildings and surrounding villages. Each student had five questions to ask and record the answers. These were taken from the list we collected on our wiki.

I certainly came away understanding much more about local Swiss government! As a class we are much clearer about what services the Gemeinde is responsible for and not responsible for and where the 79.5 million chf tax payers money goes. We have also discovered how sometimes a service is shared between the Gemeinde and the Kanton e.g. main roads are the Kanton's responsibility and other roads the Gemeinde's. The Gemeinde owns many buildings or sites but these are sometimes given to other people to run e.g. the football fields across from our school. We found out the next big project is the Gemeinde's wish to buy land by Vilette park but that the community will vote on this. We've learned a lot about raising relevant questions and conducting an interview. Tomorrow we will write a recount of our trip, a thank you note and review the answers we have discovered to our inquiries.  (Recounts are our writing purpose focus in this unit.)

A big congratulations to the class for their impeccable behaviour during the trip. Fr. Trudi and I were very proud to take the class out into the community. We have also received the promise of tickets to go to a Gemeinde organised service as a class- the mini golf! All in all a great afternoon.

We spotted the bear of Cham!
The Old Gemeindehaus - now rented to the  Kanton's Police Service
Hr. Werder calls by to answer questions about being a president
Our business style meeting!
Hr. Mengis shows us the map of Cham. You can see the Kanton main roads in yellow.
A model of Cham
Relaxing at the end of a busy trip in the foyer of the Gemeindehaus

21 March 2012

Data Handling

I always try to respond to a connection the students make when we are learning together. When the students said they would like to find out where our school community lives, this was a 'gift' of a teaching moment. Students have been showing me what they know (and don't know) about data handling through the data we collected about which Gemeinden and Kantone we live in. We have now set up a survey to collect data from all the school. Here are the students explaining to the school in today's celebration of learning. They had prepared what to say and sent an email out to everyone. Next week we will begin to sort the data in preparation for graphing it and asking questions of the data.

We also are busy getting ready for next week's trip to the Gemeindehaus. We have generated and collected lots of questions for our visit through our wiki. Today we used the Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate routine to organise our questions into categories so the email we send to Hr. Menngis is organised and the questions we ask are related to the visit.

20 March 2012

Personal Connections 20.3.12

Today we have been finding out more about Cham Gemeinde by using research skills. We viewed a very useful video made by the Gemeinde that explained some of the services provided by Cham. We took notes and listened to the students translate from German into English. We then began visiting different pages in the Cham website to find out some background facts about Cham and the structure of the Gemeinde organisation. The students were sent to research answers to specific questions. From this lots of questions naturally arose. There are a number of points we would like clarification about or things we simply don't know. We hope to find out the answers when we go to the Gemeindehaus next week.

Before next Monday visit the following discussion pages on our Wiki and add your ideas:

1. Questions for our Gemeinde Visit
(Check that your question isn't one that you can already answer with a little bit of thought.)

2. The History of Cham
Record your dinner time conversations here so we can build an understanding of how Cham came to be established.

3. Visit the Cham Website and record 5 fascinating facts you discover on the wiki discussion.

19 March 2012

Community Needs and Services

Today we returned to the logs the students completed last week about the needs of a community and the services its Gemeinde provides. We used the Micro Lab Protocol from Visible Thinking to ensure that all voices were heard and all ideas were attended to. We talked about how sometimes we spend our time planning what we're going to say instead of focusing on what the speaker is actually saying.

In this routine each speaker had two minutes to share their log. In between each speaker there was a twenty second  pause to take in what was said. The final step was a five minute discussion about the information they discovered. Each group was asked to discuss their log similarities and differences. From this each group compiled a table to show the services they all agreed were provided by the Gemeinde and a list of services they were unsure about. This will be the basis of our questions to ask at the Gemeinde next week which has kindly been arranged by Miss Trudi.

Some great questions emerged as we shared our logs: What's the name of the 'thing' that people pay to the Gemeinde? The group who came up with this question eventually remembered the word 'tax'. The students realise these services don't come for free and that the community has a responsibility to pay for the services through taxation. From the same group's discussions came the thought: What is 'public' and what is 'private'? They realised UBS is private, as is our school, but that the state schools are publicly funded. N then asked, 'So what services are provided privately?' As a group we are starting to answer this question.

Every so often it's important to stop and reflect on how we are doing at school. Using the Compass Points routine I asked students to reflect on four aspects of school life:
E = something I am excited about at school
W = something I am worried about
N = something I need to do, think about, find out about.......
S = the steps I need to take
The students have made some fascinating reflections which will be stored in their portfolios.

13 March 2012

One idea leads to another......

As the students walked into the classroom today I asked them to look at the information we had collected about which Kantone and Gemeinden we live in. It's been interesting to find out that some of us live further away than we realised. My next instruction was to show each piece of information so we knew who lived where and how many people lived in each place. We'd made the connection to mathematical data handling. Some students made charts, others made tally graphs, maps and lists. From this we discovered a whole new vocabulary: data, survey, question, answer, chart, table, tally, organise, information..........I have now asked the students to think of other ways they could represent this data we've collected. Let's see where that discussion leads us next week.

Our opening task has in fact led us to a new inquiry. The students decided enthusiastically that they would actually like to know where everyone in our school lives too! So I set the class off in groups to come up with a proposal about how we should go about collecting the data. We decided we needed to ask the teachers to help us out to collect in surveys. We will send out a survey to the families tomorrow in the Celebration of Learning and we'll go to each class in groups to collect the data. It will be interesting to find the geographical extent of our school community.

12 March 2012

Formative Assessment and Word Definitions

Today we picked up our unit with a quick formative assessment to see how we're doing. I wanted to check for any gaps in understanding before we moved on. I asked the students to respond to the following questions.


1) What is a community? Define.
2) Explain why people come together in communities.
3) Identify and describe a community you belong to.
Describe and explain the responsibilities you have in that community.

We then talked about our individual responses together. Finally students had an opportunity to fine tune or add any additional ideas to their assessment, which we'll file in our portfolios. 

We also got down to some definitions today. As a class we looked at our central idea and inquiry points and noted the direction of our unit. The words need, service, Kanton and Gemeinde stand out as being important in this unit, so we all needed to be very clear on their meaning. Students worked in groups of three to define each word. We discovered it's hard not to write things like 'a need is something we need'! We needed to consult more than one source to gather different definitions together. We also saw it was important to understand the context in which the word is being used. Far more complicated than it at first seemed. Each group wrote their definitions on strips which we are ready to share tomorrow.

Personal Connections 12.3.12

Mr. V will be setting a mathematics task on Wednesday. In the meantime here are some questions to talk about over the dinner table. You should think back to our explorations into Cham last year if you were with us then. 

Why do you think the community of Cham was founded? 
What services do you think Cham provided its citizens with in the past?
Do you think this has changed over time?

Plus: Reading and Tracks.

05 March 2012

Group Surveys and Concepts

Last week's Personal Connections task really launched our unit today. Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed and/or help arrange interviews with others. This data was crucial to the next stage of our discussions. Students took it in turns to share their interviews in small groups. From this students identified four connections that were made amongst the responses and four differences. We noticed for example that many of the groups were work related, connected to a church, to the town they live in or to the family. They also pulled out vocabulary connected to the unit. Interesting words like participate, obligation, share, system, responsibility have begun to emerge. This task is much more difficult than it sounds as the students really had to listen to each other to draw out connections and be able to record their ideas clearly. Our next step is to analyse how our interviewees defined 'community' and come up with a common agreement about what it means. Only then can we take our next steps forward!

The PYP is a concept driven curriculum, which means we identify the big ideas that are significant to build our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. It's more than learning facts and skills. Today we looked at the eight key PYP concepts: form, function, causation, change, connection, perspective, reflection and responsibility. I asked the students which concept was connected to our question from last week: What groups do I belong to? The students suggested it could be a FORM question: What is it like? and a CONNECTION question: How is it connected to other things? From here I asked the class to work with a partner and think of lots of questions we could ask about our unit and sort them into the concepts. They really came up with some great ideas:

FORM: How big does a group have to be to say it's a community? Who is in a community?
FUNCTION: Do communities need to have team work in them? How does a community work?
CAUSATION: What is it like to be in a community?
CHANGE.How does a community change? Can a community change to a different place? Does a community change it's size?
CONNECTION: In what community am I? Why is a community connected to a system?
PERSPECTIVE: Can you call every group a community? How do you start a group?
REFLECTION: What do we know about communities?
RESPONSIBILITIES: What are the most common responsibilities in a community? What are your responsibilities in a community?

These are such inviting questions for us to investigate. These and more are posted in our classroom.

One student made a very interesting point and asked could rights be a concept too as we'd studied rights and responsibilities last year. Yes, absolutely! There are more than just eight concepts to explore, but the IB has chosen eight main ones that cut across the subject areas and these are the starting point for our planning and teaching. A concept needs to be timeless, universal, abstract and  transferable and so in our unit we will also be exploring the related concepts of networks, systems, community, needs and relationships. We'll be adding and sorting new questions throughout the unit, really trying to live up to our curriculum being 'concept driven'.

01 March 2012

Our Unit Showcase

It was wonderful to see so many visitors at our unit showcase yesterday. We appreciated having such a supportive and appreciative audience. There are many ways to share learning, but I think this showcase really demonstrated how our students had found their poetic voices to express their ideas, interests and creativity.

Kathy documented both the main rehearsal and our two performances for us, so please enjoy the slide shows. The fourth slide show is a collection of shots taken throughout the unit. You'll see the students going through all the many steps we took as we explored this unit. There are some shots of the students expressing themselves through dance with Miss Helen too. Enjoy!