What's Happening in the iLab?
February and March
Exploring which animals enjoy an Arctic habitat.
Showing our thinking
Brainstorming animals we think might be in a desert habitat.
In the rainforest
Animals that you might find in a (prehistoric) rainforest!
Students have been learning with a pretty awesome "guest teacher"--Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. Thanks to Discovery Education, we've been able to learn more about a few habitats already:
The Ocean and Coastline
We created some Thinking Maps to show what we already knew about different types of habitats.
For each habitat, we've created pictures on KidPix depicting each habitat and the different animals and plants within it.
How you can support this learning at home:
Ask your students about the different habitats we have already covered.
Ask them how a habitat might change if some of the animals that live in that habitat weren't able to live there anymore.
Students can also explore PBS kids' Wild Kratts games. They LOVE these, and these games are a great way to explore habitats, animal behavior and adaptations.
Each of us will choose one habitat and create a Telligami video to tell about the parts of the habitat and why each animal is important in it.
Tell Me a Story!
We then explored a site called Piclits that allowed us to use more descriptive writing to describe images. This helped to think about words that might make our writing more interesting to our audience. (One of our Enduring Understandings is "Audience Influences Communication".
Finally, we storyboarded our our ideas and have started authoring our own books using a site called Storyjumper. After break, I'll be sending home information to each student on how they can access this at home (and even print out their books). We've been exploring the writing process (write, revise, get feedback, edit and publish)-as our other Enduring Understanding is "Process Impacts Outcomes".
Each class has pretty much finished their books, so when we get back from break, we'll be doing a "Story Slam"--each students will read their book out loud to the class and get feedback from classmates ("I liked...." and "I wonder...")
What you can do to support learning at home:
Students may also enjoy checking out a site called Storybird. We don't use it at school anymore because it has a cost to it for a classroom. However, it is a great website to encourage students to write descriptively (illustrations are already provided). Once your students has written a book that they are happy with, you can even have it professionally printed. :)
There are some apps that also encourage storytelling (by text or by voice). You might want to check out "Book Creator", Puppet Pals and Toontastic.
Finally, students really enjoyed listening to stories read by professional actors on Storyline Online. As it is YouTube based, they are now blocked at school (BUMMER!). However, it is a great resource.
2nd and 3rd Grade
If You Give a Class a Sphero...
Students in 2nd and 3rd grade first learned to control Sphero using one of the many free apps. We deconstructed our Enduring Understandings (the big ideas), collaborated on our Essential Questions (our wonderings) and unpacked our World Class Outcomes (Reasoning abstractly and quantitatively and Creating Meaning Strategically in Writing). Then finally, FINALLY, we were able to start planning and building our obstacle courses. Different classes used different materials. Some used up-cycled materials from a great place called RAFT . Others used a ramp, tunnel and painters tape to design the course. We quickly found out that there were pros and cons to each method. Students also learned about problem solving, resiliency, and the importance of effective collaboration.
We took data to see how long our tracks were and how long it took the Sphero to go through them.
Next Steps: After Spring Break, we will be compiling the data, analyzing it, and using an infographic program called Piktochart to create a visual representation of our data. We'll be sharing that data, as well as data from a student interest survey about Sphero and writing an email to the folks at Sphero (a Boulder-based company) reporting out on our experience and presenting our data for them to use as student artifacts. We will also be writing an email to Mr. Starkey sharing our data and trying to persuade him to invest in more Spheros to support our learning.
Ways you can support this learning at home:
Have your student build an obstacle course (with a tennis or golf ball, or even an RC car) or marble maze using different materials. Ask them to think about how different materials impact the course of the marble. Have them think about what other variables go into the speed and accuracy of an object getting through the obstacle. You might also discuss cause and effect.
Supporting effective email communication: Encourage your students to compose emails to me (email@example.com), their teachers, etc. Ask them to keep in mind what a respectful and professional school email should look like. (Though they cannot send or receive emails outside of DCSD, there are many people that they are able to communicate with) Students should know their emails, or be in the process of memorizing them, but just in case, here are instructions on how to access email.
By the way, MANY students wanted me to send home info about where they can get Sphero. I have seen them at the Apple store, but I think your best bet might be Amazon.com. Here is the link to one of them. Depending on what version it is, they range in price from $60-120.