Monday, April 27, 2015

Project Based Learning and the Scholastic Book Fair

My class turned the school book fair into a Project Based Learning opportunity. We decided our driving question would be, how can we increase attendance at the school book fair? We began this project last October and students have been working in small groups on different parts of the project at various points throughout the school year.
First, we took a vote via Google forms to decide what method or project would be best to answer our driving questions. Creating a commercial won almost unanimously!
The next step was for a small group to work collaboratively writing a commercial script using Google docs. After doing some research, the students found a similar project I did with a class several years ago, took that existing script and revised it. I was impressed by the editing and revision skills of this group.
At the fall book fair, we took some video footage. I worked with another small group using iMovie to edit the footage to create a promo about the book fair. Students took turns reading the script and we added that as a voiceover. Our finished project is below. We hope to see you at the book fair!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bears With Our Bird Buddies

Our final field trip of the school year was a huge hit! We went with our buddy class, Mrs. Bird's 5/6 students, to the Stuffington Bear Factory
We started off with an interactive, animal themed Jeopardy game. Both big buddies and little buddies did very well, with many students winning accessories for the bear they would build later in the day. Then, our tour guide brought us around the factory. Since it is an actual, working factory, we were cautioned not to touch anything and "stay behind the red tape" throughout most of the tour. 
We learned about the materials used for the products created at the factory and saw workers stitching by hand. 
Both classes were VERY excited to spy a tub full of Google themed pillows! We asked our tour guide about them and she said they have a contract to create them for another company.
After the tour each student got to pick out a very deflated looking stuffed animal to create. 
First, students stepped on a pedal attached to the stuffing machine to stuff their bear.
Next, they brought their freshly stuffed bear over to the sewing station to be hand stitched closed.
 After the stitching, students headed to the vacuuming station where all the lint, fuzz and extra thread was carefully vacuumed off the bears.
If there STILL seemed to be debris on the bears after the vacuum, this bathtub blasted air and students could "wash" their animals.
Then, students brought their new snuggly friends over to the ribbon station. Everyone chose two different colored ribbons to be added to their bear.
Finally, students looked through lists of potential names for their new toy and filled out a birth certificate.
After this very thorough bear creating experience, we headed back to Fireside and had a delicious pizza, juice and picnic party in the park with our buddies!
It seemed that every student enjoyed this experience and it was a wonderful day for students from both classes. A big thank you to the parent helpers and everyone who sent in picnic foods and supplies for our delicious lunch. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mystery Money Eggs

This week we combined a few math lessons to learn about money, calculating sums, calculating differences and data analysis via Google sheets. To kick off this lesson, each student received a Mystery Money Egg, opened it, and added up the contents. 
When they were finished with their calculations, they scanned the enclosed QR Code to see if the total they had calculated matched the amount listed on the QR code. None of the QR Codes matched the totals! The next step was for students to figure out the difference between the total listed on the QR Code and the actual total. 
Then students found a partner with the same color egg and combined their totals. They also worked together to add the totals listed on their two QR Codes and found the difference between their combined money totals and the two QR Codes. 

Next, students returned to their original seats and accessed their pvLearners accounts. They learned to create a Google sheet and created a spreadsheet detailing their egg contents. The next step was to share the digital spreadsheet with their Mystery Money Egg partner and me. Partners added another page to their spreadsheet to record the data from the combined eggs. 
Students enjoyed the "mystery" aspect of this lesson and were able to practice somewhat basic math skills and combine them with higher level data tracking and analytics. The Mystery Money Eggs incorporated The Four C's, as students were required to communicate, collaborate and think critically throughout the lesson. The creativity integration came when creating the spreadsheet, as students had choices of fonts, backgrounds, colors, cell size, etc.  
The rubric was reviewed at the beginning and throughout the lesson, so students had a clear understanding of the purpose and how they would be graded. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Analogies and Vocabulary With the Stick Around App

We have been preparing all week for our final meet in the 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge competition scheduled for next week. The WordMasters Challenge is a vocabulary competition based on completing analogies. Analogies involve higher order thinking skills which is based on logic and reason. We have been working on analogies and higher level thinking all year.
We decided to try something new to prepare for the meet! Students worked collaboratively and chose sixteen words expected to be part the WordMasters Challenge. They looked up the definitions of the words and created a puzzle using an iPad app called Stick Around to learn the meanings of their words. 
The first step of this project was watching a few tutorials to learn how to create the puzzle using the Stick Around App, then students started exploring and creating. 
As a class we tweeted the app creator, Tony Vincent and the app itself and a few students were really excited when we got retweeted right away! 
The goal of the student created puzzles was to drag the correct definition to the vocabulary word. Then, students were able to self-check their answers to see if they were correct and fix any errors if necessary. 
 Students enjoyed creating the puzzle but LOVED playing puzzles created by other teams. 
The Stick Around app was a really fun way for us to prepare for our final WordMasters meet. 
The WordMasters Challenge is a cumulative competition so scores from this last meet will be added to previous scores to determine our final winners! It has been a tight competition so this last meet will be critical. Keep studying and practicing!