Sunday, 5 October 2014

A Tale of Two Grades- A Few Weeks In

Anyone who says teaching 2 grades at one time is the same as teaching 1 is a fool. Haha... Half of my teaching career so far has been teaching combined classes, and it's always a challenge, but this one's been a treat! Haha! I can't lie though... Because I am sick in the head on most days, I love challenges. I am sooooo busy, that when I am not, I literally feel out of sorts. It's bad. So I am surviving. Just a lot of after-dinner-naps are happening at Chez Edmunds.
The biggest challenge teaching grade 6/7 is the Science and Social Sciences. For the past few weeks, both grades have been taking a deeper look into Biodiversity. Grasping onto the commonalities of both curriculums, we have been doing a lot of oral discussions, group work, and hands on activities. This week we took a trip over to the park next door to gather some materials for a mini-project.


The grade 6's are looking at how organisms and species are divided into five kingdoms and how they interact. Each grade 6 student has chosen one kingdom to learn more about and is creating a "Kingdom Diorama" and a writing piece to accompany it, to present to the class.
The grade 7's are learning about various ecosystems and how each element is dependent on each other. They too, have chosen one type of ecosystem to study more about and will also create a writing piece to accompany their "Ecosystem in a Bottle".

Before leaving for the park, the students were provided a list of expectations in the form of a checklist. They were given time to brainstorm the types of items that they wanted present inside of their Diorama's and Bottles. Each student was then given a bag to collect items at the park.

Upon returning, students got right to work on their mini-projects.




The students do not have any "at home time" to complete this, so they are forced to use any time provided to the best of their ability. So far, so good!

Next up, MATH! Oh heavens.... the first week was a doozey! With 6's and 7's merging from 4 different classrooms, I had 3 different math units to finish. It was a gong-show. I am not sure if it seemed like it when you walked into my room, but I felt like I was stuck in a cyclone!!!

3 tests were distributed and 3 units were completed. Then we were off to the races. We all began math on the SAME UNIT last Monday. Thanks to the math specialist in our board, I had a visual to work with on how to attack each lesson and what lessons grooved together.


 

 I am back to using interactive math notebooks, as it's so easy for the kids to refer back to and to study from, when the time comes. It also allows me to teach one big idea and then branch of with each respective grade, if need be.

In Literacy, we have gone back to the basics and are revisiting the writing process. Together, we have explored each portion of the process and have created some shared pieces together.

The students then worked on opinion pieces/ connection pieces of writing using the shared models we created together as their guide. 
Every piece of writing needs a purpose.
These Author Purpose cards were created by Erin Cobb and you can find them HERE.
Here's a list of our Generated Topics that the students felt connections to or knew a lot about. Giving students topics they WANT to write about, always delivers higher quality work. Forcing topics onto students just becoming comfortable with writing, has never been successful in my classroom.
They are now in the process of writing intro paragraphs (which was taught step by step), as well as stating their main idea and evidence. Each step is colour coded and a process. They are looking great. With this step by step process, it allows me to meet and conference with small groups about their writing and help them improve their writing.

In Reading, our goal as been to cite evidence and refer back to the text.
 I used this book (Through the Cracks)  on week 1 and 2 to look at text features of a narrative and to be mindful of specific events happening in the story. The students then summarized the piece and connected to one of the characters in the story, using specific evidence. They did a great job with this. I am not a fan of "making connections" (as these poor students have been hearing these words since JK!) But there are always twists you can put it. Making students form an opinion and stating reasons and experiences to back their ideas, is always a good way to go in the upper grades. Otherwise, you are going to see "This book reminded me of a time....." And no one wants to see that year after year.

Presented as a children’s story, with powerful images that literally show the students “shrinking away” from the classroom, this allegory pleads with us to ensure the future of society by keeping kids creatively engaged. A young girl named Stella narrates, and she explains why she has lost pleasure in classwork. The problem: uninspired lessons leave them bored, with wandering minds that hinder learning. Fortunately, there are solutions here: bright and appealing classrooms where kids discuss their work and ideas, where special guests come to share their knowledge, where appealing art and research projects stimulate youthful imaginations, and where nature studies are actually done outdoors.

And last but not least, I finally cracked open the packs of canvas I had stored away.
As mentioned in my last post, I have a large bare wall at the back of my room, just above our coat racks. I put up the words--
In Religion class, we spoke about symbols of friendship, family etc. and our thoughts about now being in one class, one school together (I have many students from a school that just recently closed), one community and God's Family. Each student brainstormed various symbols for each category. Some were abstract, while others were concrete.
We then painted the symbols onto the art canvas this week to be displayed in our room.


These graffiti-style pieces will be hung at the back of our room to remind us that "WE ARE ONE".

So there ya have it..... A few weeks in, but we're groovin'.

No rest for the weary.

But do always remember...

 Happy Sunday!
~Kaitlin~




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