30 April 2012

Getting to Know Clay and Living Things

This week's  focus concepts: form, function, classification, habitat

During this unit of inquiry Sharing the Planet we are going to be exploring modelling using a variety of materials. We will be exploring how we control tools, materials and use different processes. Today we explored the form of clay as the students had a great time experimenting with air dry clay. Each student was given a piece of clay, a selection of clay tools and a board to work on. They then each created a piece of artwork or rolled it up and created another one instead! We begun to look at how to join two pieces of clay together. We'll see if the joins survive the night. Some students helped each other create pinch pots. Others already began modelling their favourite animals. We'll reflect on the techniques we used and collect vocabulary connected to this.

We have started viewing the BBC series Life narrated by David Attenborough in parts. I shared with the students how I had first watched one of David Attenborough's series when I was their age and how it had really influenced me. I even had the book to show them from that time! It was a pleasure to watch the first part of the more recent Challenges of Life with them today. As we watched we were listening out for vocabulary connected to animals e.g. predator, prey, behaviour, advantage, survival, strategy, challenge, specialise, defence, calculation, reproduction, camouflage, weapon, shelter, shelter, defense, food and behaviour. Afterwards we used the Connect-Extend-Challenge routine to reflect our thinking as we viewed the film:

How do the ideas and information you’ve just heard connect to ideas you already thought about or knew? 
How has your thinking been extended in some way, taking it in new or further or deeper directions?
What challenges or puzzles have come up in your mind about this topic now that you’ve been presented with new ideas and information?

I also introduced the students to 'The Rock' which used to live close by to Miss Kathy's home in the mountains
I had been worried it was unhappy after I had removed it from it's natural environment, but the students indulged me and assured me it wasn't living so it didn't have feelings! I asked why was it not a 'living thing'? A really interesting discussion emerged spontaneously about the idea of change. A student pointed out that living things change over time, but that rocks change too. The students explained about erosion and friction, but that this was different from biological change. The 'growth' of crystals also came up in discussion. At this point we begun sharing our criteria lists for living things and together we are formulating a definitive list. 

Tomorrow promises to be an equally busy day with our focus being classification. The Personal Connections task will be coming home tomorrow as a follow up to the day.

29 April 2012

Personal Connections 30.4.12 Animal Classification

These tasks are for Monday onwards:
Tracks (for allocated students)
Reading for at least ten minutes a day

This task is for Tuesday onwards:
Visit our new wiki to find this week's series of tasks connected to establishing an understanding of animal classification while using non-fiction research skills. Make sure you are signed into the wiki (top right corner). Please complete the information gathering sheet and return it in the green folder. Remember to follow all four steps.

If you would like to continue finding out more at home, please feel free to look around the wiki. You can also  investigate Carolus Linnaeus' system for classification.

Due date: Monday 4th May

Other Notes:

  • If your Learning Log is not in school, please would you find it at home and return it to school. 
  • Please return all your portfolios.

Trip Helpers:
We are going to visit Zürich Zoo on Monday 14th May. If you would be interested in accompanying us on the trip, please let me know. There will (of course!) be focused activities for you to support the students with during our time there.

24 April 2012

New Unit & Personal Connections (Homework) 24.4.12

Sharing the Planet
Central idea: Humans have the responsibility to understand an animal’s needs, strategies and behaviours in order to support its survival.

Today saw the start of our fifth unit of inquiry 'Sharing the Planet'. We started off by visiting the programme of inquiry wall and seeing where this unit fits into our learning at ISOCS. We then explored our transdisciplinary theme of the same title by asking:

Who do we share the planet with?
What do we need to share?
What ways/ how do we share the planet?
What are some of the problems when we try to share?

What are our 'rights'? 
What are our ‘responsibilities’ towards other living things?
What are the ‘rights’ of other living things?

Students took part in a Chalk Talk* routine to collect our first thoughts. 

As we did this it became very apparent that we must understand the concepts of rights and responsibilities. After all if we don't feel that animals have rights, we certainly are not going to be interested in taking responsibility for their welfare. For some students this was a quick reconnection to our unit last year, for others completely new concepts. So we took a little time out to work with a partner to define each and think of practical examples. 

As a class we came up with the following definitions:
  • A right is something you need or should have. Sometimes this is written in a law.
  • A responsibility is a duty or a job you must do. It might involve taking care of something or someone.

Our first line of inquiry to explore in this unit is:

  • By defining life on Earth we are clear about what is living and non-living.
So for this week's first task I would like each student to bring in five examples of a 'living thing'. Pictures are fine! Plus on a piece of lined paper make a criteria list to define what a living thing is.

For your second task: Draw and label three rights you think living things have.
Please bring all your pieces in the green folder I gave you today.
Date due: Monday 30th April

Chalk Talk

02 April 2012

Summative Assessment

Today was a big assessment day as our Communities unit comes to a close. There are lots of different assessment tools that you can use as a teacher, but today I decided to use 'a contextual task'. This means I have set up a mock 'real life' situation where students apply their conceptual understanding, factual knowledge and skills. I am also assessing if they can apply what they have learned to a new situation (action) and identify the learner profile and attitude attributes they are demonstrating. I am in fact assessing the IB PYP five essential elements. In addition students will look back on the central idea and concepts and reflect on what this has meant to them. Once completed, this will all be part of the evidence I use to report progress. All parts of the process will eventually be stored in each student's portfolio.

Here are the instructions:

How we organise ourselves: Communities
Summative Assessment
Assessing Understanding, Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Action

Setting Up Services for a New Community

A new Gemeinde is to be established in Kanton Zug with an area of 20 km sq as a response to an expanding population. The Gemeindehaus is going to be located in the city of Neustadt.

There are three villages around Neustadt and main roads connect these places together. There are also a number of smaller roads connecting the area. There is one highway (Autobahn) passing through the Gemeinde on the edge of Neustadt.

There will be one main school for students aged 6-18 and 4 Kindergartens for children aged 4-6.

There will be 15,000 people living in the whole Gemeinde with 10,000 living in Neustadt.

There is a lake and train station in Neustadt. There is also a river that feeds into the lake. There is an area of woodland in the north of the Gemeinde.

A private hospital is to be built in the city.

You have been elected new town Gemeinde President to oversee the establishment of services for this whole area.

What services will you need to plan for and put in place for this new community?

  • Write a list of the services the Gemeinde will need to organise for the community.
  • Draw a map of this new Gemeinde with a key and a scale.
  • Locate the services on your map using a number key.
  • Write a list of services the Kanton will need to organise.
  • Locate these on your map using a letter key.
  • Decide how to present this information most effectively to the new community at a meeting.
  • Identify and explain the attitude and learner profile you demonstrated during this task.