Monday, March 24, 2014

Oh the thinks you can think!

Principal ponderings...
This past Saturday, I attended our first elementary science fair.  We had over 120 students from both Swallow Union and Florence Roche sharing their projects which were either informative presentations or experimental presentations.  The middle school north gym was buzzing with eager little scientists. There were middle school and high school teachers there to judge the presentations, as well as some college students.  I made my way up and down the long aisles, listening to students explain everything from chromatography to germs to amounts of sugar in drinks (Yikes, stay away from Sunkist!).  As a former biology major and high school biology teacher, it was so exciting to see so many kids talking science with each other.  
One parent explained to me that her kindergartner had a very important question that she wanted an answer to: are bubbly potions hot or cold?  Well actually her original question involved being able to make a love potion. :)
A fourth grader had taken swabs from lots of different household items to figure out where the most germs were.
A first grader had built several models of the different kinds of volcanoes and was able to explain how each kind formed.
One of our third graders demonstrated to me how she extracted DNA from a strawberry.  Very cool!
I loved hearing from this second grader about how temperature affects the speed and distance a hockey puck travels.  Did you know that the NHL freezes all pucks for 10 days before using it in a game?  Well, this student did the experiment to prove the science behind this fact!  
The students did a terrific job presenting their experiments and information.  After they presented for the judges, they were free to travel to their peers' displays and learn from each other.  It was amazing to see the huge variety of topics and experiments.  It goes to show that our students have lots of different things that they are wondering about, and this fair gave them a chance to make some educated guesses and then figure out if their hypothesis was correct or not.
When I came home from the science fair, I stumbled across this blog article while I was browsing on twitter:
Just like the science fair giving kids a chance to be inquisitive and prove or disprove their hypotheses, the author of the above blog entry talks about the 'new math' that we have our students doing and how parents often criticize this notion of having kids explain their thinking.  We have to make sure that we are helping our students develop a foundation in number sense.  What does that mean?  It means they need to be able to think math in their heads, picture math, visualize number lines, use the number line to solve problems, and most importantly, explain how they got the answer.  (Or sometimes, just as important...why they came up with the wrong answer.)
We need to make sure that while we are teaching all of the content that we are supposed to teach, we are also making sure to teach our students how to think.

So my question for you...You know what topics to teach to your students, but do you know how to teach them to think?  What do those lessons plans about thinking look like?

Currently reading:
I have been reading several articles from this month's Educational Leadership magazine.  The topic this month is "Using Assessments Thoughtfully."  Definitely some good articles which I plan to possibly share with you when I am finished.
And as usual, too many books, not enough time.  Here is a picture of a pile of books that I want to read.

Events this week:
Monday - At 2:30 middle school students will be visiting classrooms to discuss clothing drive
Tuesday - 4th grade ELA MCAS morning session, At 2:30, middle school students will be visiting classrooms to discuss clothing drive
Wednesday - 4th grade ELA MCAS morning session, 3rd grade chorus practice @ 2:25 in the gym, School Council Meeting at 3:30 in the library, 3rd graders leading pledge at School Committee Meeting at 7:00
Thursday - Long Comp make-up day for 4th graders
Friday - Last day for Yankee Candle orders

Great things I noticed last week:
  • 2 students in Mrs. Riley's class shared some of their irish step dancing moves with me on St. Patrick's Day.  They told me they practice dancing every Monday in an after school dance class.  The picture is a little blurry...hard to catch them since they moved rather fast!
  • Mrs. Cook's kindergartners demonstrated that they are experts when it comes to digraphs like, th, ch. and sh.
  • Check out this full box of books that the 4th graders have prepared to send off to a 4th grade class in Dracut as part of our "Read it Forward" project:
  • Students in Mrs. Wilkins's first grade class were working with partners to highlight words that they needed to use different strategies for in order to read a non fiction passage.
  • Kindergartners were creating quite a structure in the block area during free choice time.
  • Mrs. Miln's students were enjoying time with their book buddies.

Check it out:
I follow this blog where they focus on charts that can and should be used in elementary classrooms.  I also have a copy of their book if anyone is interested.  This week's post was an interesting one that focused on charts that have to do with non fiction reading and writing.

And some great comments on reading from twitter...
Check out this inspiring video of an amazing kid from Sierra Leone who has taught himself based on needs in his life and interests.  Kids have the ability to do anything!

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