I love the book, The Bones of Fred McFee by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. The rhyming text and luscious illustrations make it a delight to read. I needed an activity for second grade and one of the Georgia Standards of Excellence they are exploring now is in physical science, S2P 1 b. Construct an explanation for how structures made from small pieces (linking cubes, building blocks) can be disassembled and then rearranged to make new and different structures.
I was thinking of having the students assemble something and it needed to be from supplies that I had a lot of. Thought a bit and remembered the tub full of popsicle sticks! The idea of assembling a skeleton just popped into my head and that made me think of Fred McFee.
We read the book and I showed them examples of non-fiction books that had information and illustrations of skeletons; a dictionary, an encyclopedia and a non-fiction book. I placed these on the tables and the teacher paired up the students. Each group had a dictionary with the skeleton illustration and a heap of popsicle sticks.
Initially some students asked how could they assemble a skeleton. I referred them to the illustrations and asked how they might form a head or legs. The soon got the hang of it. One of the classes did this activity on a day that they were dressed as super heroes as part of Red Ribbon Week. You’ll notice that some students posed their skeletons in super hero poses and then posed themselves for the photo!
I was inspired by Pam Weiger, who conducted an IP-PYP workshop, Making the PYP Library the Hub of Learning, that I attended in Bethseda last year. She creates an Essential Agreement for the library every year. In the IB program, class rules are created collaboratively with the students and teacher and everyone “agrees” to them. I selected book titles that I had seen on blogs, Instagram, or other social media. I read Froggy Goes to the Library to first and second grades, Troll Stinks to third grade and Nerdy Bird Tweets to fourth and fifth grades.
After reading the book each class came up with suggestions for how students should act and what they would do in the library. The suggestions from the classes were combined to come up with “Essential Agreements” for the library. I used our poster maker and printed a large poster and hung it just inside the door.
It’s great because if a student is running or breaking one of the agreements, I can point to the poster and read what they should be doing.
We had one session brainstorming global issues and one about responses to problems (action), so we thought it was time to remind students of how they were to approach the PYP Exhibition by looking at the IB Learner Profiles (and Attitudes). Students see these words posted in every classroom (and the library), but how often do they really think about what they mean?
We had the students start by sitting at tables with two sheets from the handbook, Making the PYP Happen, which lists the IB Learner Profiles and Attitudes. With brief oral (and written) instructions they began to walk around the room. We did add one additional directive: add your initials to your comment (that way we could check in with the student for clarification, encouragement, etc.).
I posted the profiles and attitudes on large sheets of paper around the library. Each student had chosen a marker before hand and they were free to wander around to decide where they would make their comments.
All in all I think it was a good opportunity for these 5th grade students to take the opportunity to think about the profiles and attitudes and what they look like in a given situation and apply this knowledge to the exhibition process.
I will think about how to use this activity with other grade levels through out the next year as I believe it is a useful exercise to have the students reflect on the profiles periodically and methodically.
I was fortunate to attend an International Baccalaureate workshop this past weekend, “Making the PYP Library the Hub of Learning” at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, Maryland led by Pam Weiger, IB coordinator and teacher librarian at Allisonville Elemenetary School in Indianapolis.
One of the activities Pam shared with us is how she had 5th grade students examine the IB Mission Statement as they were starting their Exhibition. It was an “aha” moment for me. We have a school mission statement based on IB’s which the students recite everyday led by the Morning Show crew. I know no one has had the students deconstruct it, so I followed her brief overview and did it the first day I was back from my trip. And it worked!
I had this brilliant idea about 20 minutes before one of the 5th grade classes was coming to the library so I hurriedly copied and pasted the mission statement from the IB website and enlarged the font and ran off five copies. I glued the mission statement to large butcher paper and highlighted a different phrase for each group.
I wish I had longer with each class as I’d ideally like the small group carousel to each sheet, but we’ll see if I can swing that! I definitely want to do this with the 4th grade students and then as 5th graders they would be familiar with it and we could go a bit deeper.
Our second grades study Georgia Performance Standards Science “S2E2. Students will investigate the position of sun and moon to show patterns throughout the year. a. Investigate the position of the sun in relation to a fixed object on earth at various times of the day. b. Determine how the shadows change through the day by making a shadow stick or using a sundial. c. Relate the length of the day and night to the change in seasons d. Use observations and charts to record the shape of the moon for a period of time.”
Being an IB (International Baccalaureate) PYP (Primary Years Programme) we add our own touch to the standards. So in addition to the scientific side of investigating the sun and moon, the students are also exploring how different cultures use stories to express their understanding of the sky based on their ideas and beliefs.
I was asked by the 2nd grade chair to bring in my sundial from home. We met outside at the beginning of their library visit time and looked at the sundial; talked a bit about the sun and whether it moved or the earth did; how people kept track of time before watches. I had the students move the sundial until the shadow fell on the correct number. Of course, my sundial has Roman numerals so I wrote the numbers on sticky notes in Arabic and we placed them corresponding to the correct Roman numeral. We had to delay this one week as it was totally cloudy all for several days.
We went inside and I read a book, The Sun and the Lizard by Alma Flora Ada. This bilingual retelling of a folktale set in Mexico tells the story of how the lizard found the sun who had been asleep inside a rock and so the Earth remained dark. After reading the book and checking out their library books, we went back outside and checked to see how the shadow had moved. I had the teacher take a photo of what the sundial looked like at the beginning of the visit so that they could easily compare the two “readings” of the sundial. One teacher used her phone, another used her iPad. The students were consistently amazed that this device could tell time! I left the sundial out through lunchtime in case they wanted to check back later.