Monthly Archives: October 2018

IB Approaches to Learning-Makerspace Activity

After a not very productive group activity with one of our fourth grade classes, I decided they needed to work on their social skills.  In the International Baccalaureate program we have something called Approaches to Learning and one component is Social Skills.  This class needed more practice and I decided to give them the opportunity!  I wanted to use a fun makerspace activity to engage the students, one that wouldn’t require any academic prep.

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Tower-Makerspace Activity

The library media specialists in our school system attended a makerspace workshop at the beginning of the school year conducted by Cari White from Texas.  We did an activity where we built a tower using index cards and round labels.  Easy-inexpensive, not much prep on my part, accessible to all skill levels!

The Hook-the Book-Rapunzel

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I chose a book with a tower in it, Rapunzel and decided to use Bethan Woollvin’s version as it short.  I needed to allow time for the students to read the IB Approaches to Learning: Social Skills before working in groups. After reading Rapunzel, the teacher divided the students into groups of three and each group did a carousel reading of the skills.

The Building of the Tower

The challenge is simple: work as a group to build the tallest tower using 20 index cards and 8 round labels.  In reflecting on this activity, I would spring for a better quality of index cards.  I used the ones that you can get at the beginning of the school year for 50 cents.  They didn’t have quite the stiffness that a higher quality of card would have.

The students, as I predicted, were a little slow in getting started.  Not much communication or collaboration, but eventually they got the hang of it!

And they were so proud of their towers!

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Fourth Grade Primary Documents and Inferences

Fourth grade is studying the American Revolution and I wanted to introduce them to primary documents as an information resource.  I also wanted to acquaint them with the book, George vs George: The Revolutionary War as Seen by Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer. This book is a great example of the IB key concept of perspective.

Cover of the book George vs George by Rosalyn Schanzer

Borrowing an Idea from WritingFix

I found a lesson plan on Writingfix.com and used the first part of it (http://writingfix.com/WAC/HistoryFix/George_vs_George1.htm) which used portraits of George Washington and King George.  The website also provided a graphic organizer for the students to use to analyze the primary source document.  This was also an opportunity to have the students practice making inferences, an ELA skill they work on in this grade level.  I marked the word, “infer” in dictionaries and had one student read the definition while the others followed along.

Model First and then Small Group Work

First I modeled what the students were going to do.  I have a large poster of a portrait of Paul Revere from a collection of posters, Picturing America: America’s History Through Our Nation’s Art, from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  This portrait by John Singleton Copley is a good way to have the students, as a whole group, work through “reading” this painting.  They noticed the tea pot, the tools, his plain clothes, etc.  Then they brainstormed what that might mean (inferring) about this person (I covered up his name).  Then they worked in small groups looking at the two portraits.4-3

Two Men-What Can We Infer?

I gave each group a small copy of each of the paintings, one of King George and the other of George Washington.  At this point they had just begun their study of the Revolutionary War and most didn’t know who these men in the portraits were.  I gave them about 5 minutes to observe the first portrait and make notes on their graphic organizer and then I had them move onto the second portrait.4-1

For the most part the students did a good job and were surprised to see what they could find out about a person, just by looking at a painting. After we shared a few observations, I revealed who each man was and showed them the book, George vs George.

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I will be sharing this book with this grade level over the next couple of weeks. Just not sure how yet!

 

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Third Grade, Puzzle and Map Skills

I have been working with the third grades to let them have some experience using atlases.  They used atlases and looked up rivers that they need to know for their social studies standards, noting on a graphic organizer what states they saw the rivers flowing through.  The second week they used that graphic organizer and an atlas to locate the rivers on a laminated U.S. map and they traced the length of the rivers with dry erase markers (they love dry erase markers).  As a follow up I planned an activity with jigsaw puzzles of the United States.

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Jigsaw Puzzle of the U.S.A.

I introduced the activity by asking if the students had any strategies they used when doing puzzles.  Many of our children don’t have much experience putting together puzzles.  Some suggested looking at the box for what the puzzle should look like.  I offered that they might want to look for straight edges so they could complete the outside first.

They are so weak in their georgraphy skills as they are not part of the social studies standards, ie. they don’t know the names of all of the states!  Most have no clue where states are in relationship to other states.  I thought this might be a good way to introduce some of this information.

The Winners Are…

Although it was not a race, this group was proud that they were the first ones to complete the puzzle (I had four puzzles in total)!  Team work makes the dream work…

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