Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brown Eggs and Peace

     If you are a teacher in Texas then you have heard of CScope.  The CScope exemplar lesson covering Dr. King has the students compare a brown egg and a white egg on a Venn Diagram.  The use of eggs made me think of  Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.  This gave me the idea to join the Dr. King lesson and the book in a mini-unit that I call "Brown Eggs and Peace."
     I began the unit by reading Green Eggs and Ham. I asked questions to lead the students to realize that the character didn't like green eggs just because he never tried them. Then I asked the students if they liked brown eggs, and of course they all said no.  When I asked them why, they all said they didn't know because they had never tried them.  We looked at the outside and the inside of the eggs and recorded our observations on a Venn Diagram.  Then I scrambled the eggs in an electric skillet.  Each student was given 2 little cups, one had a bite of scrambled brown eggs and the other, a bite of scrambled white eggs.   The students had to guess the cup that had the brown eggs, and then we compared the taste of the eggs.  By the end of the first day, we had concluded that the eggs smelled, tasted, sounded and felt the same.  The only difference was the appearance of the eggs, and everyone had decided they liked brown eggs just as much as white eggs. 
     The next lesson was to start a class writing modeled after Green Eggs and Ham.  In the class writing it is not Sam I Am asking the class if they like Brown Eggs and Peace, instead it is Martin Luther King.  We then turned our writing into a digital storybook.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cooperative Learning with a STEM Lesson

      This is an example of a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) lesson that is done as a part of inquiry based learning at our school.  We try to get one of these projects done for every science unit we cover.  The one that I am posting as an example was a lesson that was done with  the force and motion/push and pull unit.  We follow a simplistic version of the engineering process.
      Throughout this process the students work in cooperative learning groups.  Each member of the group has a special job that he or she does during the engineering process.  To get the labels and descriptions for the cooperative learning group jobs, click this link:  Cooperative Learning Labels.

     In the "Imagine" stage, we go through a PowerPoint explain to the students what the project will require them to do. Click this link to view the PowerPoint Presentation I made for the push and pull unit:  Ramps: Forces and Motion ppt. If you would like the PowerPoint with working animations, just email me!  After the PowerPoint, the students break into their cooperative learning groups and the scribe of the group draws, with input from the group, what the final result will look like.
     In the "Plan" stage, again with input from the group, the scribe will  list all the materials that the group will need to complete the project.  The materials manager then brings the list to me at the "store" and get all the materials the group has listed.  By doing this the group must think ahead and decided what will work best for the final project.  They also have to think about everything that is needed to complete the project, like glue or tape to hold the larger materials together or scissors to cut the materials.  In the ramp project specifically the students had to choose what materials would work best for a platform and a ramp.
      The "Design" stage is when the group actually builds the ramp or whatever the project maybe. Then they test it to see if their planning and design was successful.    In this case the ramps were successful if the car was able to be pushed from the platform and roll past at least 5 floor tiles.
                           Needs Improvement :(

      If the design did not succeed, then the group must rethink and improve upon the original design. 

     As with most everything we do in out class, we always end with a writing.  Each student will write their own story about the project.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Celebrating America

       To teach American symbols, I have always used PowerPoint Presentations, textbooks, and picture books.  My first graders had to basically memorize and recall the symbols.  This year I decided to do things differently.  I made American Symbol cards and had each student  pull a card out of a hat.   Students had to use books and the internet to find information about their American symbol.  Next, they had to write about their symbol.  Students helped each other edit their writings before the final drafts were completed.  Then, the students created an illustration for their symbol.  Finally, I recorded the students reading their writings and took a picture of their illustrations.  I loaded the audio and image files to MovieMaker to create a video (above).  The students were so excited to see their work on  Throughout the process, I kept reminding them that "the whole world" would be able to see their work.  They really took pride in this project.      
         As a side note, the students' writing and illustration were put together to make a classroom book for the reading center. 

To get the American Symbol cards, click this link:  American Symbol Cards