Monday, October 24, 2011

106 Heads Are Better Than One!

Setting up the week on Monday's always brings such fun questions from my 5th graders, like:

"Are we going to Skype this week?"
"Can I work on my claymation video during study hall?"
"Did you create the app team?"
"Did you create the iMovie team for Stone Lab?"
"What are learning about?"
"Did you know (random fact about iPad)?"

Ha! But, it is cool to start the week off with such excitement!

In any case, in presenting my students with our week's learning goals...THE ALWAYS PRESENT WATER CYCLE...the chatter instantly went to what iPads apps/projects we could use to demonstrate learning.

"We could use DrawingPad to draw a diagram."
"Could we use iMovie while we are making our clay diagram?"
"I know...ShowMeApp, right?"
"Wait...we haven't tried StripDesigner yet."
"Hey, we could use Pages and make another poster."
"I think Toontastic would work...!"

And, so on...
It was standard in the classes, that they started brainstorming how to use our iPads as learning tools. Wicked cool...right! This comes with TIME, OWNERSHIP, and FREEDOM to learn/fail/succeed/explore. It also comes with being a learning partner with the students. And, I know I've said that before...but,'s important!

So, 106 heads are better than one. Twitter is great for collaboration. I learn so much from other educators. But, sometimes, my best teaching partners have conversations with me in over 140 characters...and, they LOVE muppets, superheroes, and Ninja Turtles too!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Field Trip, Edmodo, Standardized Tests???

My HUGE field trip to Stone Lab has come to an end. After a week filled of splashing across Alligator Bar for inverts, hiking across the island for the ornithology lesson, peering into the microscopes to find the MONSTERS (plankton) in the water, and studying fish anatomy hands-on, our outdoor learning at Gibralter Island is at the end...or is it?

If you followed our class twitter feed (@lacrossescience), (which not many do yet :) )we posted pictures of the invertebrate walk, plankton study, and more! Each time I took pictures, I was just grinning from ear to ear! The instructors were working with my kids as scientists. They were putting the learning in their hands, and treating them with the upmost respect. This is one of the major reason why I DON'T have discipline problems on this trip. The kids are SO engaged, and they are treated like scientists.

Now I have to follow that up in my classroom! It would be insulting to give that type of control in learning to my students and then take away come Monday.

So, how do I do that? How do I carry on those conversations...continue the ownership in learning...and show my scientists that THEY have the power to question?

It points directly to Inquiry/Problem/Project Based learning. If you see your students THRIVE in this environment, I have to offer it in every situation possible. And, I have to be able to connect these high interest experiences to the LESS interesting realities...our 5th grade Standardized test for science.

What's the bridge? How do I connect this gap?

I'm looking at an experience that points a student towards critical thinking, hands-on learning...
but, the final assessment of the year for them is a test which has only some components of that. The test does attempt to gauge problem solving abilities in various questions...but...yeah.

So, here is my first direction. Take those high interest activities and internalized material and carry on the conversation through EDMODO. Let's blog/write about your experience. Let's draw record of what we learned on the iPad drawing apps. Let's reflect on the tools used as scientists.
We need to share our ideas...clearly, with purpose.

Next, show them how scientists DO keep record, DO design research investigations, and DO share. Our studies must include many opportunities to design, test, fail, and retry...that's the only way to learn!

But, on all levels, I must walk the fine line of keeping it student inquiry based, but pointing back to those key standards and methods (multiple choice, short and extended response) that they will be assessed on by the state. I have to give them the experiences to do the best they can on the test...without taking the momentum that we have away.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Getting Them Questioning

The weekend before our huge Stone Lab Science field trip and I'm reviewing all my lessons up to this point in the year. I know that I can't prepare them for every bit of learning that will occur. I wish I could front load it ALL so that the experience will be even that much better. But, after a long run today, I am confident that I have these students primed for a phenomenal experience.

I may not have had the time to get all the content in front of them...but, I have got them ready to question!

This video is from earlier this year. But, it highlights the importance in giving students exeriences that allow for questions. Giving them an opportunity to observe, wonder, and test out is a powerful way to learn. I Wonder statements can be generated without all the content being there...and that's the power of inquiry learning!

With these experiences, I think we are ready to get into the hands-on learning at Stone Lab!

Asking Questions from Leah LaCrosse on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

DS, Science, and a Student Teaching my Class!

This first quarter has been all about Life Science in our classroom. Studying our butterfly garden, creating photosynthesis dances (with flash mobs), creating iPad drawings and videos, plant experiments, Brain Pops for food chains/webs, and Skypes all over to our partner classes. It has been a whirlwind! We are building up to our Stone Lab trip next week, and the conversation in class is phenomenal!

So, I didn't think it could get much cooler...BUT IT DID! (All because of a conversation...)

I have a girl in my homeroom that I have just started to connect with. We started chatting about her DS and a game that connects to our current study of ecosystems, Animal Sims.

She explained the general premise of the game...building a healthy ecosystem with plants and animals. Then, she started talking plant needs (space, water, pollination) and animal needs with food habitat...and on! That's been our class direction. So, I asked her if she would be allowed to bring the game and system in for me to check out.

And...she did!

What a super cool class we had! This young lady totally rose to the occasion. Using an iPad camera connecting to our smart board, she did a great demo of the game! She talked the science behind everything, too! I was quiet, shy homeroom student TOTALLY became the science teacher. And, she did a PHENOMENAL job. She was answering my questions, along with other students.

YouTube Video

I am so proud of my student! And, I'm very excited that I gave her the stage, let her teach, and show the other students that they are valued!

*In the video clip, my student is finishing up and I am reviewing with her.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Flash Mobs for Science

So, the fact that I couldn't sleep the night before the fifth grade flash mob might seem a little dramatic. But, it's true. I was so excited for my kids. They were ready to surprise the cafeteria staff with the photosynthesis dance. We had been creating the moves for the dance because even with:

-students creating drawings on the iPad diagramming the process
-watching BrainPop video for photosynthesis
-student created videos in ShowMe app

We needed a little more to get the Big Idea of plants bringing energy into ecosystems.

This is a link to the class video of the flash mob.

Unfortunately, I am not a video diva. :)

But, the kids were buzzing about it all day after that...high fives going around for how GREAT they were. And, you know what? Fifth graders are great! I love their enthusiasm for anything...even flash mobs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad