Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ancient Egypt

Well I am always a bit behind but I thought it might be time to report on the Ancient Egypt projects.  I think Alanna, the famous teacher librarian may have done it with the seventh graders while I had the sixth graders my first year.  I think we did it together the second year.  I think Lois, our next teacher-librarian and former gifted consultant did it with the seventh graders last year, and this year I did it with the class as they had just finished an Early Man project with our teacher-librarian and our library is a busy place. 
The project itself is one of Alanna's and my combined efforts.  She got the great idea of giving a fake check  to the best presenters at the world conference.  I am going to post the project as a page here if you would like to make use of it.

And I will share a few pictures here.  The students presented to the class and each person had to evaluate eight projects (this keeps them tuned in).  I wanted the kids to experience presenting to a whole audience.  They got cut off after five minutes unless it was really interesting!  A couple of days later they were able to present to small groups of students from other classes.

I wish our school had more space to display the great projects that the kids do!  

I also love the variety from models to prezis

And we still do have posters...  This is a multimedia project so the kids are encouraged to try to present in several different forms.  That part they usually love! 

I have to admit that the projects were generally good, they were not necessarily "knocking my socks" off quite the way they did two years ago but I think I have become a bit jaded by their use of technology.  I also don't have quite the extroverts I had in that particular class.  I am pondering. 

Right now we are taking a dip into Ancient India but no really big projects just smaller ones where I am really checking their note taking and referencing.  They had to pick a topic and find ten important facts they learned and reference where they got their information.  We are also back using the text more.  I discovered I needed to review a bit about climate as they compared New Delhi to Kabul.  Anyway also a learning experience in our classroom! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Images and Imagining on a funny kind of day...

Yesterday afternoon it was fortunate I had choir and then visual journals and then buddies because honestly I was feeling kind of otherworldly and coughing and sneezing.  I watched a few minutes of the Senior Girls' basketball game and then ran home where I was meeting a lady to discuss windows.  And then I really started sneezing and faced the truth that I had better stay home today. 

But I wasn't sure how clear I had left my day plan and I had a lot of marking I wanted to drop off so I went to school to discover that there was no EOC until the afternoon so the resource teachers had to pinch hit in the morning.  What can I say?  I went home and fell asleep for a couple of hours.  Not quite as sneezy but not well enough to go to the party I was supposed to go to tonight, I have been finishing up an old blog entry and reading a couple of my favorite bloggers as well.  There is just so much talent out there.  And it is a bit of a luxury to have the time to peruse.  For a bit of a gardening and  design fix I was reading Aloe Design's Caitlin's Nesting journal and just because I always find it interesting,  Grade One teacher, Pavan Sumra's Pancakes for Breakfast.  Each of these ladies has a wonderful eye, and create and find the best images.  And that leads me back to yesterday afternoon.  Images...

I had a lot of fun last year working with Phyllis Schwartz through the Vancouver School Board's Artist in Residence program.  She did an amazing job working with my students on pottery described in this blog extensively.   She also is a great inspiration for what to do when you do retire from regular teaching.  She introduced me to The Sketchbook Project and then she shared her idea of making a mini sketchbook project in our school board and with the help of our arts coordinator, Peggy Bochun, this is going to happen.  I needed to recruit some fellow teachers so three of my former colleagues at Moberly and one colleague with whom I worked when I was a consultant have joined the project with their classes.  Two grade sevens, one grade four, one grade three, and one k-one class will all be creating sketchbooks and sharing them with each other and have them on display at the Vancouver School Board Education building in April.

In the fall we chose the type of sketchbook we wanted, but it took a bit longer to get them than I originally anticipated (illustration above).  Finally in late February they arrived.  We have a meeting on Tuesday so that I thought that I had better get started this week!  We had chosen a theme of voyage or travel-imaginary or real.  As I attempted to describe the project and brainstorm with my class yesterday afternoon, it didn't seem too clear so I grabbed a picture book, The Sounds of Color  for a little inspiration.   This book is about a girl who is going blind and her journey through a subway using her imagination to see.  The illustrations are amazing.  Here are a few more.  My class started planning in their drawing books and one by one I was handing out the new sketchbooks.

Although I told them not to take them home, I suspect Ellie did, because she gave me hers, the first, this morning.  Once Ellie gets organized, she is going to be famous one day.  So here is her first page... It's hard to see but that is definitely Ellie in the crows' nest!
I am hoping that my much more artistically inclined and imaginative colleagues (two of whom taught my classes art) will bring samples on Tuesday when we meet.  And I have been so fortunate this year with Allison, my amazing teacher-librarian and resource person teaching my class art.  There is much to be said for a specialist!

Barry asked, "Why are you always reading picture books?"   I had read Desmond and the Very Mean Word for Pink Day (Anti-bullying Day) a couple of days ago.  "Because I like them and I hoped it would inspire you," I think was my reply.    If you haven't seen either book they are worth a read and probably a purchase. 

So stay tuned for more about The VSB Sketchbook Project and how it all evolves!  And here is my image to brighten a weather wise dreary day!  The first image is from the new Chihuly Glass and Garden in Seattle I recently visited on a real journey and one where I got to appreciate Chihuly's imagination.

Fossils and Rocks or how a literacy person takes on science...

At the end of the month I feel tremendous guilt that I haven't blogged more.  And now I have missed February completely.  Time just speeds along.  I sit here thinking of the highlights and sometimes the low points as well.

 Last Friday was one of those days when I sometimes thought I was reeling but eventually we settled into learning about fossils and you have to know how great is to see how excited they were with handling fossils that were 2.6 billion years old.  It's kind of a Wow experience!

I often feel like the worst science teacher in the world.  It's a subject I have often avoided teaching in the past (it pays to be able to speak more French than your colleagues)  but I have taught it for the last few years and honestly, I have enjoyed it!  I love how much the kids like it.  Setting up experiments when you don't have a proper science room, and figuring how we can all properly examine rocks etc. has caused me a few nightmares but the engagement of my students is really worth it.  I just got a note from one student asking if he could do an extra assignment on rocks and minerals.  Again thanks to the internet, there are many great resources out there.  Gone are the days where you just ordered a film or film strip.  And I am looking forward to a field trip to the MacMillan Space Centre and taking a virtual tour of the rock formation of our own area.

I always think my students are clever and artistic, and here are a few samples of the mini books they did on the properties of rocks.

I also find that my forays into science enrich my own travels.  This summer when I visited The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland grade seven Earth Science was really giving me connections.  I could really see the basalt and the remnants of the lava flow. 

And everywhere I go I seem to collect rocks...

And the children's book I always think of when  we study fossils is Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth, a book touching on the conflict between evolution and creationism.  For older readers interested in fossils, I suggest Amazing Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, a historical novel about Mary Anning who had a remarkable knack for finding fossils.