Thursday, December 12, 2013

Twitter: The latest Passion for 5K

If our readers are wondering where we've vanished, the simple answer is that lately our focus has been

If you're interested in reading what the 5K's are up to in for past few weeks, then checkout the hashtags #g5humanbody, #g5language and #g5maths on twitter. Parents can take their child's help to figure it out.

Maybe we'll use the blog more when we're back from vacation.

Until then, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Using Dumb Charades to enhance unit related vocabulary

We played a game or Dumb Charades today; the difference was that the words given were not names of movies, but words related to the unit (design, weather, environment, shapes, money, government laws, culture, etc). There are basically the factors that impact the design and construction of a structure.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Contextual writing

The grade 5's were given a few picture books today and were asked to create a house in the setting of the book. They were given a choice to either write a descriptive essay or create a poem. The focus was use of adjectives and other descriptive language (simile, metaphor and personification).

 One group created their own club house; another group created a house in the 'whispering palms'. A third group described the house in an adventure story and the last group used their senses to add information to Abraham Lincoln's childhood home.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Transferring into symbols

We read the book 'The Greedy Triangle' by Marilyn Burns today and the students were asked to turn the story into symbols. This helped them understand the 'shift' between polygons and the revise the vocabulary.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Identifying shapes

Students were given different illustrations related to nature. They identified points, lines, angles, quadrilaterals and 3D shapes in the pictures. This was a pre-unit assessment for the unit on shapes and Quadrant sheets were used.

ant sheets were used.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wiki project

Students of Grade 5 were grouped according to different cultures around the world. They made a wiki based on their research:
Please feel free to comment on the wiki - We will continue to use the wiki for the rest of the unit.


Carousel activity
Gallery Walk
Drop-everything-and-read (DEAR) time
Math project on data analysis
Surya and Ishan begin the Grade 5 Assembly
Aly and Aviral give an introduction to the wiki
Khushi and Umar talk about African culture
Sharon and Zahir talk about Bengali culture
Safa and Aayush talk about Chinese culture
Using manipulatives to create word problems in maths
solving math problems in pairs
Novel study: Prediction
Using Think-Puzzle-Explore for analysing artefacts
Presenting artefacts to class
Making a collage

Grade 5 students listen to a Carnatic Singer

Friday, August 23, 2013

1 Sentence - 2 Images - 3 Words

The students were asked to read a variety of books that were directly/indirectly related to culture. They were asked to choose one sentence, 2 images and 3 words that were related to culture.
When we started putting the words on wordle, they came up with many, many more words; it was amazing to see how deep some of the words were!! (Beneath the Iceberg)

Wordle: What is Culture?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thinking critically about 'culture'

When we analyse the 'What are we going to teach?' (The Written Curriculum) at our schools, we always try to encompass issues that can make the students think - not just think, but think critically. The usual notion is that units that have a heavy science and/or social studies component are the ones that can help us achieve this purpose. Maybe we need to think differently.. 

The current unit for Grade 5 is on traditions and rituals and the central idea is "Traditionals, rtiuals and artefacts of different cultures are expressions of their beliefs and values". When you read the central idea, it probably seems rather simple. One might assume that the students might just research about the different cultures around the world, their rituals and traditions and the reasons behind them. Certainly, this is inclusive during inquiry lessons. However, interestingly, the unit involves a lot of critical thinking as well. The reason being that students (as well as many adults!!) have numerous misconceptions about 'culture'.

The first line of inquiry is 'What constitutes a culture'. To enable students inquire into this, we thought of a few provocations:

  • Is 'culture' same as 'religion'?
  • Does Culture change over time?
  • How is our daily routine connected to our culture?
  • Is one's culture influenced by other factors? (weather/climate, interaction with other cultures, migration/globalization)
  • Should we always believe in whatever our parents believe?
Many such statements were given to the students of Grade 5 during the early stages of the unit. They were asked to arrange these statements on a continuum that range from 'More True than False' to 'More False than True'. 

Honestly, this learning engagement turned out to be more effective than I had imagined. The students began to have highly insightful conversations. Every student placed the statements differently. Since their knowledge and understanding of the term 'culture' was quite sketchy, their assumptions and misconceptions were clearly evident. For example, many students thought that culture is the same is religion. 'How can culture change?' was also a common question. They also wondered how their daily routine was connected to their culture.

Followed by this, the students put up questions on the 'inquiry wall'. At the moment, students are doing a variety of learning engagements (Culture ice-berg, watching movies/videos, conducting research by reading fiction and non-fiction books, interviewing people and referring some good websites) to find answers to their questions.

Once they have a nuanced understanding of the term, students will be asked to go back to their continuum and re-arrange the statements based on their inquiry. Additionally, they will use the thinking routine 'I used to think.. Now I think..' to reflect on the entire process. This will be a formative assessment.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Journey Begins!!

Another School year has begun and hence another journey - A journey full of learning, excitement, adventures, challenges and not to mention LOTS OF FUN!!

The students from last year's 'Grade 5' have been promoted to next grade and I now have the pleasure of having 14 new faces in the class! They are also a brilliant bunch who make the class lively and interactive.

For the past 5 years, I have been maintaining blogs for every grade - a different blog every year. However, this year it so happens I am teaching the same grade and the same section that I did in the previous year. I hence will continue to use the same blog for this year as well. Some changes will be made so that the blog is more specific to the current student group. 

I invite all parents, colleagues and peers from across the globe to be a part of this blog by reading and responding to articles. I will not only use this blog to share the teaching and learning in the classroom, but also my experiences and hence analysis of different aspects of the PYP and pedagogy in general. Being a passionate blogger, I look forward to improvise my blogging practices. 

You can also follow me on twitter: @archana2804

See you soon!!! :) 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Learning about Digestive system using POTATOES!!

The Grade 5 students were surprised to see their teacher bring into class chopped and grated potatoes - "Are we going to cook, Ms. Archana?" They all asked. It was in deed for a learning engagement that the potatoes, along with straws, strainers and jars were brought to the class

This task for divided into 5 tasks and each task was similar to a function of the digestive system.

Task 1: Students mixed the chopped potatoes with water and shook the jars strenuously. Nothing much happened, except for the water turning a little white. Next they mixed the grated potatoes with water and shook the jars again. This time, a lot of froth was formed.

Why? Due to the starch in the potatoes. There was froth formed with the grated potatoes as the starch could be absorbed easily.

This is similar to the to breaking down of food in the mouth and the absorption of starch.

Task 2: The students passes some grated potato through a straw. They were asked to use their fingers to push stuff down. 

This is similar to the 'peristalsis' in the epiglottis.

Task 3: The students churned the grated potatoes and water together until it became paste like. 

This is similar to the churning in the stomach.

Task 4: The 'paste' was passed through a big strainer. A lot of water was removed.

This is similar to the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. 

Task 5: The left over paste was passed through a small strainer until it was more or less solid.

This is similar to the absorption of water in the large intestine. The left over paste is like the solid waste that I body gives out.

This was followed by interactive lesson which consolidated their understanding.

For each task, students took turns to be a 'note-taker', a 'gaffer' and a 'experimentalist'.

How do we know students are thinking??

There are numerous ways of documenting students' thinking:

Inside the classroom –

a.       Posting student questions: if a student is asking questions, they are definitely thinking! In a stimulating environment, students must be allowed to ask as many questions as they can. They should also be trained to ask open-ended and conceptual questions. These questions should be pasted in the classroom which can be called an inquiry wall.
b.      Posting student discoveries: Asking good questions is not the end of thinking, in fact it is just the beginning! Students must find answers to the questions they have asked and these ‘discoveries’ should be pasted in the classroom. This shows that the students keep thinking about what they want to learn.
c.       Using graphic organisers: There are tonnes of graphic organisers pre-designed for different purposes. Students should be taught to choose the right organiser for a given purpose. Overtime, students will be able to design their own graphic organisers based on their need.
d.      Display of work: Any piece of work that showcases thinking done by the students must be displayed in the classroom. This includes graphic organisers, brainstorm activities, research work, open-ended work, assessments, etc.
e.      Post-its: Students should be given access to a variety of post-its which can be used to record their thoughts in a random, yet organised way. A classroom full of post-its is a classroom full of dynamic thoughts!

Outside the classroom –

a.       Use of student blogs: training the students to maintain some online space where they can record their reflections gives an opportunity for them to think. The teachers can easily read through these blogs and also give immediate feedback, if required.
b.      Allowing students to comment on the class blog: If the teacher has a blog for the class where the learning engagements are reflected upon, the students must be allowed to read through these posts and comment effectively.
c.       Reflection journal/Diary: it is highly recommended for students to maintain a journal or a diary where they can take notes about what they think. At times, they can be allowed to write out of free will and other times this can be guided.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Narrative writing

The Grade 5 students have been really excited about the latest topic in English - Narrative writing. This was linked to the unit on civilizations and the students wrote very interesting stories. The Novel 'Chronicles of Narnia' also helped them in coming up with brilliant ideas.

What they enjoyed most was Narrative Poetry. We started off by reading poems of different styles and  by a variety of authors. Each student was given a collection of  poems from which they recited their favourite poem in the class. We also read few poems together and realised that all poems
 have a rhythm or a beat and sometimes a rhyming pattern. We also identified the use of figurative language like similes, personification and alliteration.

Next, the students were asked to come up with narrative poems on their own. Some did this in pairs and others individually. The engagement had such a strong impact on them that for three days, the students were even trying to talk poetically in the class!! For example, "Please come with me, a book I need to see".

They all followed the writing process by first coming up with a plan for a story and then drafting it. The poem was edited by themselves, their peers and then by the teacher. Finally, they published their poems on chart papers which were displayed in the classroom.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"Welcome to my classroom", they all said.

Thank you parents and students for your presence at the Student Led Conference held on May 3, Friday. I always feel that the SLC is one of the best days of the entire year as the students themselves communicate about the journey of learning. Yet again, the 5's made me and their parents proud!
See for yourself....

Thank you all for the past conference feedback - feel free to comment on this post