Saturday, March 9, 2013

Some things are starting to come together

This week was a good week...looking back on some recent posts, I've noticed they were a touch on the negative side, and I need to make up for that.  So here's the skinny on some really excellent things that were happening in my class this week.

On Monday I got to speak at the "Fired Up" Conference for local student teachers.  I love talking to educators about #flipclass.  Especially excited, energetic student teachers who want to soak it all in!  If you're interested in any of the information/resources I shared, please check out this document.

Monday night I joined the #flipclass twitter chat, which I've been missing lately due to life/kids/work/kids/exercise/ get the point.  I'm so glad I was able to join in because I got to connect with @JohnFritzky.  Independently, we've both been trying to come up with math investigations that are more than solving problems.  We're talking real world application where the kids have to do the thinking.  Rather than try to do it all on our own, John put together a google doc with all the 5th grade ccss on it, & we're slowly filling it in with projects.  So far we have projects involving Bungee Jumping Barbies and Strawberry Shortcake recipe disasters.  If you want have any projects you can add...or you just want to check out what we've got, go here.

My students took their fractions test...I'm not going to lie, I was afraid...very afraid.  One kind of cool thing I did on this unit was have the students write story problems before the test.  I picked a few, and made them our extra credit problems.  The students LOVED this (especially when theirs got chosen).

So I took the tests home, and low-and-behold, the two classes combined to average a 92%...I'll say it again 92% ON A FRACTIONS TEST!!  Whoop, whoop!  I was so ridiculously proud of them that I did a happy dance for all to see.  One of my students mentioned that he'd rather see my breakdancing than happy dance.  I told him they'd have to something even more amazing for me to breakdance ;)

Students worked on an inquiry project applying their newly acquired knowledge of fractions.  The overview of the activity was the students were to make strawberry shortcake with a given recipe, but their dog ate all the measuring cups they were going to use & they had to recreate the recipe with the ones they had left.  Then they had to advertise the grand opening of their bakery.

Earlier in the week I had a few of my students ask me about our next inquiry (they're really starting to like the projects), and I told them the truth...I don't have it done yet.  Then they asked me if they could make it.  Ummm, let me think about it...YES!  I gave them the learning goals for the next unit, very little instruction and said, "Good luck!"  Our next unit is on volume, standard & metric measurements & converting those measurements.  They came back to me with a project that would require the students to measure the volume of given buildings (which they created on the computer).  They also worked in problems the builders were having that would require the students to use standard and metric measurements.  Wow.  That's all I can say about that.

During math the students all got to present their advertisements.  I had students who don't normally have an opportunity to shine, get up and blow the rest of the class away with a full on commercial.  I had a pair of students actually bring in strawberry shortcake.  I had yet another set of students create a webpage to go with their advertisement.  I was impressed.

It may seem like I talk a lot about math, because that is the subject I flip.  That being said, I work in an elementary school, so I also teach reading and writing (my partner teaches science/social studies).  In reading we are finishing up a study of the fantasy genre.  Friday I took the kids to the lab, gave them a rubric of what they needed to have on their fantasy projects & said, "Have fun."  As of now, I have the following projects in the works: keynotes, websites, posters, video book reviews and dioramas.  But the most exciting thing of the whole week happened when I was searching around the computer and found an application I forgot we had, called "Comic Life".  Basically, it allows you to make comics using pics you have.  I mentioned it to the class & I had a few students say they wanted to try.  In this group of students included one child who shows very little motivation in class.  He gets very little work done, and his work isn't always his personal best.  He latched on to this comic strip with a passion that I haven't seen in him all year.  He even asked if he could work through recess (his most cherished time of the day).  While our projects aren't done yet, I am really looking forward to what I find next week.

So, like I said, this week was a good week, and it's important to remember that things like this happen every day.  The important thing is to not let the bad things trump the good.

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