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