Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Anton van Leeuwenhoek: Microscope maker

This week students will be doing a factual recount about Anton van Leeuwenhoek, the father of microbiology. A factual recount describes and reconstructs past experiences. Students will be taught the skill of note taking by identifying the keywords in texts, and how to write using the past tense. Students will read a short text and also watch the above video clip. They will synthesize the main ideas in the two text types to create their own recount.  This work will be completed in their Marvellous Microorganisms workbook. We will  also be focusing on the word microscope and microorganism discussing the parts of each word and their meanings. Homework this Monday will be to complete the recount. It can be handed in on Tuesday or Wednesday.
This film clip is pretty interesting as well:

The Bread Without Yeast & Bread Making

Today students finished off their bread analysis looking at Mountain Bread Oat which does not have yeast as one of its ingredients. We discussed the use of  clear diagrams and labelling them to help explain scientific observations. 
Next we watched three short clips on the bread-making process and read through a recipe for bread making. Students will be working on their flow charts  to explain the basic steps in bread making over the next week. We looked at a simplistic flow chart and a much more complicated one.  Students can draw up their flow chart by hand or have a go at using an Excel application.

I found this flowchart download from microsoft very useful.

I suggested students plan their flowcharts in their Writer's Notebooks and then either draw them up neatly in their Marvellous Microorganisms book by hand, or use a template such as the one above to publish their flowchart.

In the afternoon, some students had their woodwind lesson and six grade 6 students did their Sports Leader training.

The remainder of students continued practising their blanket stitching making their needle and pin holders. A few students processed their The Otherside piece. We now have a class logon for the computers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Using paragraph answers, analysing bread and...all those microorganisms

This morning, after Spelling Bingo, we read two more chapters of our class novel, The Pinballs. I then modelled how to write an informative paragraph to answer one of the questions students have been asked to answer in relation to the novel. Students all have a set of these questions but they can be viewed in an early blog entry at:
Students had input and we wrote a response to question 1. looking closely at the character of Harvey. Students have been asked to plan and answer this question again in relation to either Carlie or Thomas J.  and to make their argument convincing. Homework on Wednesday night will be to complete a few of the questions on this contract. I have suggested students use their Writer's Notebook to plan an approach.
Microorganisms Display
The main focus of the day, however, was on our Marvellous Microorganisms  science unit. There is a display at the front of the room which I would like students to take a close look at, and to read the descriptors which accompany the photos. There is also a basket of some pretty interesting reading in the basket in front of this display, all to do with the topic. Our other class novel is There is a Worm on My Eyeball , and we read the introduction today and completed a maths task based on some of the contents.

Following recess, and after  the grade six students returned from a thirty-minute plus meeting with the the P.E teacher, we began our first Science investigation. It is all about closely analysing different types of bread looking at features such as texture, odour, taste, appearance, and ingredients. Students put their findings into a table and drew and labelled diagrams, and I am glad to say they worked extremely conscientiously on this. One student, who previously showed little interest in anything, completely blew me away with his industriousness. I hope we are on a good thing here. Students worked in small groups and had roles and responsibilities. Much of our investigation work in Science will be done in this way.
Examining bread samples
Following the lunch break,  we did a mathematics activity looking at the difference between a linear centimetre and a square centimetre, and students looked at the approximate number of microorganism that live on a square centimetre of different parts of our body. Pretty scary stuff! They were asked to look for mathematical relationships between the different numbers and to explain their thinking mathematically. Tonight's homework is to finish this activity.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hinamatsuri (Doll's Festival), Obina and...this week's ough words

The class puzzle is going well. Students do this before school, during wet weather, or if they finish a task early.

Hinamatsuri Dolls

Some of our  Hina Obina (Emperor) dolls

This is the origami steps students had to follow. 
Today after the usual 35 minute Monday morning assembly, students had their second Japanese class for the year. They they learnt about the Japanese Doll's Festival called Hinamatsuri, and completed a short comprehension exercise. They then  made a Hina Obina doll.  The festival is held on March 3rd, the third day of the third month.

There was the usual Physical Education lesson and then the  Library lesson.

This weeks spelling  words are:

dough                       bough
though                      plough
although                  drought
rough                       wrought
tough                        enough
thought                    ought
thorough                 brought
borough                  sought
Kingborough         nought
cough                      bought

Students were given 60 minutes in class to complete the spelling activities. I have suggested they have a parent test on these words to isolate the tricky ones they need more practice with. These words will be tested on Friday morning. Five students who did not need to do this lesson spent the afternoon publishin their Pinballs activities or their The Otherside interviews.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Microorganism - Upcoming Science Unit

Next Tuesday we will be starting our Science unit Microorganisms.  I will be putting up a display of books and articles in the classroom. If you have any books on the topic or articles they would be greatly appreciated for use in the display. We are starting the unit by looking at yeast in the bread-making process.

Place Value

Today we did a lesson on place value looking from hundred thousands through to ones. Students collect ed prices of goods and services and added them to a data list making sure the numbers were listed according to their place value. Next lesson they will be ordering he data from smallest through to largest. They need to find two more items in the hundreds of thousands range.

This morning students also had their respective test on the 'ate' words which we hav been concentrating  on  this week. Their marks are recorded in the Skills Book. Any misspelled words are to be added to their ISL cards.

Students were also put into their age groups across the 5/6s and given the Single Word Spelling Test to acertain their spelling ages.

Today we also followed up on the Venn Diagram as mentioned in the previous blog.

The classroom jigsaw is starting to come together too.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A revisit to the Venn Diagram - Friday

My Ragdoll Tuna decided to check out the investigations...

I am not sure just how impressed he was...
I will be requesting  that students revisit their Venn diagrams comparing a square to a cube tomorrow and over the weekend. We will have a sharing session tomorrow to deal with some of  misconceptions and inaccuracies evident in some of the investigations.  Students need to focus on:
faces, edges, vertices, surface areas, volume where applicable, angles, lines of symmetry, parallel lines and to use diagrams to explain/support their mathematical thinking. 
Think outside the square!

The first Pinballs Assignment

Here are some other editions of The Pinballs, our current class novel. Students have to complete one of the 8 possible activities from their contract tonight for homework. We read three more chapters today, discussed the use of their Writer's Notebook. Students were given nearly an hour to plan and start their chosen activity in class.
The possible activities were:

1.  Write a letter pretending you are one of the main characters, describing the foster home and the other foster children.

2.  Prepare a comic strip version of one of the chapters or one of the significant events in the novel.

3.  Write another chapter for the book.

4.  Design a new jacket for the book. Remember to include a blurb on the back. You could get some ideas by looking at the various versions that have been published.

5.  Harvey makes lit of things that have happened to him to try to come to terms with his life. Make some lists of your own.

6.  The children talk about having fifteen minutes of fame. Write about what you would like to happen if you had fifteen minutes of fame.

7. Write a poem with each line beginning "I remember when..." OR "I would like to forget..." You may like to alternate these lines.

8. Make a PhotoStory or PowerPoint presentation promoting the book. (Students were shown four examples of book promotions this morning in class.)

Students were also given a rubric clearly outlining what they are being assessed on. They need to complete three of the activities over the next week. There are also some questions to be addressed in section one of the contract after we finish reading the novel. We are at the halfway mark.

Today students also had their first music lesson after recess and a book buddies session in the afternoon where they conducted an interview each and got to know their buddies.

Unfortunately, we are still waiting for computer logons, and  it turns out there are some 18 000 students waiting statewide, so I am hoping we are not too far down the list. We also don't have a class log on as this classroom didn't exist last year.  It is a little frustrating so if students have access to a computer at home and can use it for PowerPoint presentations and publishing top copies of their drafts it would be great.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Art lesson, 2D vs 3D, and...a Softies update

Another busy day with a long meeting at the end, but a productive one. First up it was Spelling Bingo and a partner test on the individual words and then we had two more chapters of the class novel, The Pinballs, before my darlings trotted only next door for their first art lesson with Mrs MacCrum. Students are designing their own personal banners which will be hung in the classroom when they are done.

After recess I took them through compass usage and students constructed their own Venn diagrams to compare the attributes of a plane shape and a 3D shape. This was completed in their large activity where will will do some problem solving and other lessons in the Measurement and Geometry strand of the National Mathematics Curriculum. Some students decided to take it home to add more to it. We will revisit their efforts on Friday and students will add missing detail in another colour.  I am endeavouring to make students aware of book presentation and to take pride in their work. We played three quick games of Guess the Number just to break up the double maths lesson. I was impressed to see so many students taking the initiative to consult the wide variety of Maths dictionaries in the room to clarify their thoughts and to investigate angles, area, volume and axes of symmetry..

In the afternoon I tested a handful of students working on level 4 of the demon words(tricky words) whilst the grade five students went off to do a music test. All students have had a test on level 1 (fifty words) and about a third on level 2 and a sisxth on level 3.  The words they are having trouble with are listed on their Individual Spelling Card and I would appreciate any testing parents can do on these at home and sign off on any words which have had five partner tests. The remainder of the grade 6 students did some quiet reading. Then I sat the grade 6 students down and talked about threading needles, using blanket stitch in order to make their needle holders. Each students has a large, resealable storage bag which at the moment houses the felt for the holder, four pins, a needle and a double-sided sheet demonstrating some basic stitchery they could use when sewing their softies. Two of my grade 6 boys really surprised me with their amazing sewing skills and both were very helpful when I was trying to teach so many students to thread needles, knot cotton and use blanket stitch. About half of the grade 5 students have made a start on this, we will catch up with the remaining group tomorrow. Homework was to finish the design of their softie in their Writer's Notebook and to make notes about materials etc. on the other side of the page. Students need to think carefully about the application of their practical skills to the design, too fussy or too many sharp small angles or thin sections can be a disaster when it come to the actual cutting out of the felt and the  sewing. I have also asked students to personalise their notebooks so they are special. We will be using this book a great deal for planning and producing quality written pieces. I have encouraged them to review the PhotoStory of softies made by students their age in the third last blog,  and keep it simple. I didn't take any photo as I was far too busy threading needles and sorting out some quite amazing knots. 

Also, after a hectic day,  I also now  know how to do a canteen duty at lunch and a supervision on the top car park after school,  which will be  my pleasure every Wednesday. Gotta love the fluro jacket! The ultimate fashion statement.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

She'll be right - Tuesday 21st

Today we got off to a flying start. We read four more chapters of the class novel The Pinballs and students made their contribution to the being positive poster which will be displayed in the school hall later. They made a sign from shells and added one thing positive from the last week. A large number of students also learnt how to use a glue gun. The shells are from our very own beach at Blackmans Bay. My neighbour Sonia and I collected them last night and they were washed and bleached, hosed down and ready for use. O did a great job of organising the shells and also explained the task well  to classmates.

Students also started three lists of describing words about the main characters in the novel. This will be useful when they come to do the associated unit of work which goes with the novel. Students also had a punctuation exercise to do on an excerpt from the novel and they could work individually on it or in a mall group. We also watched the first part of the tele-movie based on the novel which helped reinforce some students' understanding of the plot, and the relationships the children in the foster home are beginning to form with each other.

After recess students completed a small skills test in mathematics and then did some reading.

In the afternoon, after three quick "riddle offs" where students learn about play-on-words (puns),  I introduced the Softies unit and shared what materials we have in the room. Any donations of cotton, ribbons etc would be greatly appreciated. Students have started their preliminary sketches of their monsters. Overall, it was a most productive day.

Be Positive - Monday 20th

Be Positive,this was the central message delivered to students today in a half hour assembly first up. I then went to Japanese up until recess with the students and learnt a few new words. Students  focused on writing their name in Japanese, months and dates and prepared there books with a page for 2012. Following recess the students had Physical Education and then Library. In the afternoon we started our spelling contract on a-e words, which are the ones we use in the Spelling Bingo game using the Smart Board each morning. The words for this week are:

haste               separate
taste                demonstrate
inflate              appreciate
imitate             calculate
slate                evaporate
isolate             participate
rate                  generate
educate           vibrate
eliminate         concentrate
fate                  operate

Students play two games each morning selecting from these words, a game of five and then a game of eight. To win the words must be correctly spelled, there must be a margin and date, and the words need to be signed off by another students after they have checked them for mistakes. The winner's write their name in the Spelling Bingo Book and there is a prize for the most wins at the end of each term. The words change each week. Every Monday night the focus will be either on a spelling unit of a component of grammar.We talked about time management skills and book work. Students also have a card with their own individualised spelling lists of words taken from their writing. and spelling tests. There is going to be a focus on handwriting...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Softies Unit

Over the next month as a sideline to the major Science unit on Micro-organisms students will be working on this unit. They have received a copy of the sheet below to keep them on track as to what they will be doing and the skills they will be learning. The above softies were made by some students of mine two years ago.

Softies Unit: art, ICT, literacy, numeracy (space)

In this unit on monster toys you be:
1. Designing and making a monster soft toy from felt and other materials
2. Designing an advertisement promoting your toy and publishing it
3. Designing and constructing a suitable box for your toy
4. Writing a children's story book featuring your toy and some of those of your
    classmates to share with your book buddy and your peer group

You will be learning how to:
thoroughly plan and persevere with a larger project
design and make pattern pieces
use straight and blanket stitch
use the supplied materials in an economical way
make a net for a box and construct the box
take a clear photo of your toy and import it into your advertisement
use you Writer's notebook to plan for your picture book
reflect on, and evaluate your finished products

Please Note
You will be making a needle and pin holder first up to keep your sewing gear organised and also to practise the two stitches you will need for the project. You will also receive a zip lock bag to keep your materials organised.

Donations of ribbons, cottons, pins or needles would be greatly appreciated.

Students watched this PhotoStory I made to motivate them and help them envisage the types of softies they could design for themselves:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Maths Dictionaries

Luckily I love maths and have been an avid collector of maths dictionaries over the thirty years I have been teaching.  I have every edition of the Illustrated Maths Dictionary by Judith De  Klerk, and both of my own children found their copy of this useful right through until the end of their college years at Hobart College. The latest edition comes with a Cd. So I have installed all my dictionaries plus some recently-purchased ones into the classroom so we have a sound resource base that I wouldn't have otherwise had. I already know this particular  student cohort will look after them.  Enjoyment of mathematics for me began  only when I started having to teach it, and because I struggled with it so much as a youngster and only made it through due to dear old Dad's constant explanations, patience, kindness and assistance, that I feel I understand why so many students feel daunted by the topic and even tell me that they don;t like maths like today. I felt very sad and hope to turn things around for them.

Today, in class, my  students explored the terms ratio using three different dictionaries. These dictionaries are an invaluable resource withing the classroom and aid students in independence and increase their confidence with mathematics. Today the students also learnt to play the game Guess the Number which is a great warm up activity to any maths lesson. I have a tin  full of cards made from recycled Christmas and birthday cards and on the back there is a number, a maths term, a shape or a measurement quality which the students have to guess. The student running the game is only allowed to say yes or no. It is a fabulous game for developing literacy in mathematics, recording skills, and questioning strategies. Past students have always really loved this game and in self assessments have written that it is one part of maths they enjoy. The student running the game is allowed a calculator to help them with the more trickier questions, and I am always there for back up to give little clues.  I usually prepare three cards for each lesson concentrating on the major strands of the current national curriculum which are:  Number & Algebra, Measurement & Geometry and Statistic & Probability. If the card has a number on it students might ask questions such as:
Is it an odd number?
Is it a prime number?
Is it a cardinal number?
Does it have three digits or less?
Is it an ordinal number?
Is it a square number?
Do the digits added together make less then 10?
Is it less than 100?
Is it greater than 10?
Is five one of its factors?
How many factors does this number have?
In Roman numerals is it represented by an x
Is it a fraction?
Is it a mixed fraction?
As the terms  progress so does the sophistication of  the students' questioning strategies and their  knowledge and understanding of mathematical terminology.

Another book I recently purchased which is well-aligned with the national curriculum and I think all teachers should have a copy of,  is reviewed in my classroom book blog:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Days Back...

Well, we now have had two days back at school with the students. I have twenty-four in my class which is the smallest class I have had for seventeen years. I am used to having classes in the 28-3o range so this is wonderful. One year I had thirty-three and that was quite a challenging year. There are sixteen boys and eight girls. We discussed ratio using this information. The days have been very hot and muggy but thankfully we have air-conditioning in the classrooms; I have never had this luxury before. A lot of people think Tassie is always cold but we have our fair share of stiflingly hot days with high humidity.

What have we accomplished so far? The students have learnt how to play Spelling Bingo and one boy did a great job of running it today. We play it first up every morning. More on this later. The students have all been tested on fifty demon words and some students on a hundred. Students worked in groups looking at the classroom games  in case of wet weather, and they have have had time to explore the classroom in pairs and ask questions about what's in it. 

Our class novel is called The Pinballs by Betsy Byars, and it is all about relationships and learning to get along. The central characters are Carlie, Harvey and Thomas J. Students have been filling in a tension levels graph as I read the story. It's basically a line graph following the plot.  They have a contract to complete with a reasonable amount of choice in the second section, and and rubric so they know what is being assessed. We have read through the rubric before starting the novel.  I have two copies of the book, and as I read one another student follows along with the second copy. There are enough chapters for every student to have a turn at this. Today I gave them a task called The Otherside. We all read an excerpt from the Mercury about an entrepreneur who was interviewed about his life and reactions to things. The triggers I gave the students were:                                                   My first memory is...

I love being...
My favourite time of the day is...
When I lose my temper I...
The thing I fear most is...
The thing people first notice about me is...
When no one is watching I like to...
The thing that would surprise people about me is...
The hardest thing I have ever done is...
I really don't like...
The thing that makes me laugh loudest is...
When I can't sleep I...

Most students have completed a first draft but some still need more time. I really enjoyed reading the first lot of finished drafts and have learnt a lot more about my students. I use sticky notes to make the corrections to their spelling and grammar, and students have to  transfer these to their Individual Spelling Lists to learn and do activities with. The ISL has been fully explained to them. More on this later.

The students also had their first assembly this afternoon looking at the Keys to Success and getting to know new  students and staff. In the classroom we have also being focusing on time management skills. There will be a focus on mathematics tomorrow. Students were also given a detailed list of all the stationery they received yesterday (Wednesday 15th) and what each is for. I asked them to get it signed by their parents as their first homework task.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Love My Awesome Desk

The games section is finished

The Little Library of Rescued Books is ready to go. Seats I got from Officeworks for $17 each.

The Maths Storage is a bit light on in materials but I will survive

Jordan and Tina giving my room a test run...

A quiet spot to sit and chat or look at books

 Put all my noise making toys out just for fun!
Desk I bought from Second Office
I love my awesome desk, it was worth the money, I will be very organised.
Well, the room is finished, finally. The desk came today flat packed from Second Office and two lovely young man assembled it for me. I am so happy with it and it was worth the money I spent to have it, since I spend half my life at school during school terms. I also supplied my own chair.  The cane storage units came from the Importer at $5 each; a good price so Heather in the library informs me. I luckily had a serviceable filing cabinet of my own which I moved in with the help of Bec, a colleague from Illawarra Primary, and the umbrellas I purchased from Chickenfeed. Tina, my wonderful neighbour, dropped in with Jordan and a coffee for me mid afternoon and we all watched the desk being expertly assembled. I just hope I can disassemble it when I have to move next.  Jordan and Tina gave a few games a test run. I finished off the maths area by putting up a few more signs.  I have also set up a little old-fashioned video area and taken over quite a few videos from home which used to be Nicola's and Travis' so the students can watch them when we have wet weather lunches.  My kids  also donated some of their board games and I did the rounds of the op shops to find others.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Transformation Nearly Complete...

Five coloured umbrellas hand over the Fun Stuff area

The front of the classrroom with the freshly recovered display board

The Little Library of Rescued Books

The white cupboard is still to be sanded and painted

Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson  adorn the wall

Nearly done, thank goodness!

This is the point of entry into the classroom

These are the students' bag and tote storage area, in the art area
Mission clean up the classroom is nearly accomplished. This morning I went in and vacuumed and Sonia joined me shortly after and we put up some displays: a Goosebumps area, and Games and Fun Stuff corner, a Gary Larson display, some maths signs. I can't believe the transformation. The Little Library of Rescued Books is nearly complete, I am just waiting on some more book easels I ordered last week. Thank God for op shops and  wonderful neighbours. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours!

Recovering the display boards
Tina, Sonia, Alan and Peter, best clean-up team ever!

One coat of varnish and already it looks much better

All I can say is I love my neighbours. Sonia, Pete and Tina came up to the school, and along with my husband Alan and myself,  spent the whole morning working like trojans to help me get this room in order. Peter washed the windows inside and out and got rid of I don't know how many flies, spiders and webs, cleaned all the shelves. Sonia and Tina made everything spotless including the tote trays. Alan took down the old whiteboard and put me up a little one near the entrance by cutting down and recycling existing support rails, helped with the window cleaning, put a lock on the storeroom, and brought us all over a yummy selection of food to keep us going. Little Archie, Sonia and Pete's grandson, was over here too and he was such a cutie. He loved the feel of the display board fabric and spent ages playing with a strip of it.  We moved furniture around a fair bit but I am still not 100% sure what the best arrangement is going to be. I re-covered the display boards which gave the room a much fresher look and varnished the old shabby bookshelves and cabinets. It's amazing what a couple of coats of varnish can do. There are now five different coloured umbrellas (courtesy of Chicken Feed, every public school teachers' saviour) hanging over the games corner.  I brought over all the board games my children no longer use as they are adults, so that the students have something to occupy themselves with during wet weather days. In the afternoon I set up two large shelves which house the Little Library of Rescued Books. which I have been buying for very reasonable prices from op shops all over Hobart.