Monday, 28 December 2015

Technology: A tool for learning

I am more and more impressed with our 'connected world'. This connection provides so many amazing learning opportunities for our learners. 

As mentioned in my previous post about our Central Park drama centre (click here to read it), we connected with the "real" Central Park on twitter (@centralparknyc). We tweeted to them and received responses to our wonders. We were able to share the great things we did in our classroom as well. This brought such excitement into the classroom when the 'real Central Park' liked what we were doing in our 'classroom Central Park'. The people from the Central Park Conservancy sent our class a package.

I want to say a big thank you to Ann from Central Park. Our learners were so excited to get these Discovery Journals. What great learning for our students. Students are learning the importance of questioning and seeking answers. Asking an expert is a great place to start learning answers and thanks to social media, experts around the world are at our finger tips. 

Another wonderful learning opportunity, through technology, in relation to Central Park was the use of Skype to connect with my aunt in New York. For those who don't know, Skype is an online phone you can use for video or audio calls. (Click here if you're interested in learning more ways to use Skype in the Classroom). My aunt went to Central Park one morning and called us. The students prepared questions before hand they wanted to ask her. 

Getting to see various sights in Central Park
Asking a question
Looking at one of the many old bridges in the park

Waving good-bye!

Opening students eyes to the potential for using technology as a means to gain answers to their questions and to learn more about the world around them has been a fun outcome of this Central Park drama centre! 
Students are beginning to learn many skills: 
  • collaboration (working together to decide what questions to ask)
  • communication (speaking with peers, speaking & listening the call, sharing their learning through writing and drawing)
  • critical thinking (determining questions and integrating the responses into their schema)
  • problem solving (how can we get answers to our wonders?)
  • creativity (representing their learning in different ways)

I love projects like this! It originated from the students and from there, the learning experiences have been limitless!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Can cotton balls turn into snow?

Lately, small groups of students have been exploring various wonders by conducting science experiments. One student's wonder will spark others' curiosity and an experiment will unfold. These are the moments I enjoy 'emergent curriculum' because students are engaged, excited and directing their learning. All the while, exploring various curriculum expectations (literacy, collaboration, science).

“Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, 
once they are helped to discover the pleasure of inquiry, 
their motivation and interest explode.” 
- Loris Malaguzzi

One day A.A came as asked me "will cotton balls turn into snow if we put them in extremely cold water?" So naturally, we set up an experiment! I used this opportunity to explore the scientific process with the group of learners who were interested. We talked about what materials we would need, our hypotheses and recorded our observations.

As we moved through the scientific process, they recorded on their papers.
All three students thought the cotton balls would turn into snow. We then talked about the procedure of our experiment.
I.D- we got containers and got ice
A.A- we got cotton balls, then we put the ice inside
I.D- then we put the water in the ice
A.A- we put the cotton balls in the water
I.L- then we watch what happens

A.R and D.A joined in on the fun!
After we watched what happened. The students noticed that the cotton balls did not turn into snow, but were just wet cotton balls. So, our next step was to put the cotton balls into the freezer over night to see if that would turn them into snow.
Walking to the freezer
Putting it in the freezer with a note so everyone knew it was our experiment
When I brought the cotton balls out of the freezer the next day, the excitement level was at an all time high! 
The cotton balls right after I took them out of the freezer

They made many observations:
I.D- it’s frozen!
Ms. Tompkins- what happened?
A.A- turned to snow!
I.L- no ice
A.A- it’s solid
Ms. Tompkins- what happened to the cotton balls?
I.D- they freeze
I.L- they turn to ice
Ms. Tompkins- what happens when you hold the cotton ball?
I.L- it will melt
A.A- melt!
I.D- your hands are warm
Listen to the excitement!

Writing their observations and findings.
So, we learned that cotton balls do not turn into snow, no matter how wet or cold they get!

After the cotton balls thawed it turned into another wonder...when cotton balls are wet, can they turn into clouds? 

I love children's wonder and theories, and especially the excitement they have when exploring to find answers! Make sure you take time to listen and let children explore for themselves. I could have easily answered the wonder, but none of this amazing learning would have taken place!

The learning experiences children remember are the ones they create.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

"Central Park Art Gallery for Kids"

We have been reading books and watching videos about Central Park. In the book 'In New York' by Marc Brown, the students noticed an art museum in the Central Park map. This sparked an interest in creating our own gallery. Our team then worked their magic to create an art gallery for the kids to display all their artwork.

Students had lots of ideas about what we should call our art gallery.
The students voted on which name they liked best. We used tallies to record each student's idea.

Lots of blank space for artwork.
We added a new trail with a curved line to get to the art gallery. We also have zig zag and straight line trails.
(You can explore art concepts everywhere!)
 We have begun an inquiry about art and what it means to be an artist. We started exploring 'mandalas'. The students used their creativity and imaginations to create wonderful mandalas using many different materials.

The students used pencil, black pen and sharpie. They worked on adding detail to their creations by persisting and staying focused. They did a fabulous job.

Here are some of the final mandalas:

Students began to integrate mandalas into their daily writing.

We set up a provocation on the light table using a variety of loose parts.

A beautiful mandala created by a student.

Mandalas were even made out of playdough!

2D shape mandals:

We then read a book about Aboriginal art and noticed lots of circles in their designs. We also noticed they used dots to create their art. Students have begun to use dots to create mandalas.

Stay tuned to our art inquiry as we continue to explore various types of art and fill up the 'Central Park Art Gallery for Kids'.