Thursday, October 5, 2017

How many students are camping today?

Today Grades 3, 4, and 5 were away on a camping trip. In our school that is the bulk of the student body, so this estimation activity was ripe for the taking.

This year I have been trying to have my students estimate more. Today I asked my students the question above: Estimate how many are camping today.

They, of course, didn't know what "estimate" meant, but they need to learn the correct vocabulary. So I used the word "about" to explain what I meant. I started by asking how many students were in each class. 

One boy knew how many students were in Grade 5, so I asked the class to instead "estimate" how many students were in the class. 

They still didn't make the connection, so I wrote 20 and 30 on the board and asked which number was closer to their estimate. After they chose 20, I circled it and we moved on to the Grade 4 class.

For Grade 4 I tried a different strategy. Instead of giving them a range, I started counting up from 0 by 5s. I then asked them which they thought was the closest number to the estimate of the Grade 4 class. 

Next, we had a vote for what they thought the G3 student population was. For this number, we had a vote. 28 won.

I then added up their estimation (72) and added up the actual numbers (62). 

Not bad for their first time.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Looking into Vowel Sounds

I wish I had prepared for this with anchor chart paper, or just simply paper. But, sometimes these little inquiries happen when you don't expect them ... and those are the best kind. It seems the best inquiries happen when the students are ready.

I just ordered poster paper, so I'll be prepared for next time.

And next time I would have them think of all the words they know with "oo". Then I would have them grab a book and look for 5 min to see what other words they could find. Then we would come back together and I would ask how they would sort them. I would imagine I would need to guide them to see the difference in sounds, but they would probably surprise me.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What story is your data telling?

For our unit on Who We Are, the focus is on Health and Balance. We have been keeping a Health Journal so we could reflect on how diet, sleep, and exercise affect how we feel.

For the past few days, we have been graphing the data. Today I showed my students a sample graph for "my" sleep pattern I had made that showed a sharp increase in the amount of sleep I was getting.

One sharp student noticed it and asked what had happened to make the graph jump like it did. I said I didn't know - maybe I had learned how important sleep was just before it jumped. You could also see that the graph plateaued after the sharp increase.

I guided students through this one, but I wish I hadn't. It would have been interesting to see them try to think through it by themselves. Maybe I could have put them into groups so they had support.

We will have to revisit interpreting graphs sometime, but until then, I need to learn to back off and let the students do what they do best.