The wonder wall came about quite by accident one day. To be honest, open house was coming up so I hastily threw a hand-made “tableau de découvertes” poster up on the blank bulletin board, not knowing really what I had in mind but knowing that I wanted it to be an organic place for students to ask questions and share answers.
Then after parent night, the board was left alone until we went outside to observe the soundscape around our school. When we came back in we discussed what we had observed with all of our senses. One of the students remarked that she had seen pussy willows. My teaching partner noted that it was impossible for pussy willows to be out because it was the wrong season.
This was the question that constructivists seek: that moment where a learner’s understanding is challenged and the paradigm is forced to shift. I was just so happy to see the moment come so organically.
If it was impossible, how had our student made such an observation? The next time we went outside we looked for pussy willows… And sure enough they were there. Not because they were ripe and had opened on their own but because students had stripped them off the branches and had dropped them on the ground. We took one of the stripped branches and stuck it up on our bulletin board. Next, the questions started to come fast and furious: what would happen to the plant if all of the pussy willows were stripped off? Would birds eat them? Immediately, we needed a place to organize our questions. I stuck up three large sheets of paper for “my questions”, “what I think I know”, things I have learned” and the side of the board was reserved for “ideas that turned out to be mistaken”.
As the weeks passed, students were welcome to add questions and to add answers they thought they already knew. The wonder wall has been quiet over the last few days, but we are ready to give it another boost next week when we begin some student-lead research. My assistant principal @shafinad has shared the brilliant app aurasma with me and I’m so excited to have the students start creating videos that link directly from the wonder wall to videos of their learning! In the past I have created similar “off the wall” projects that linked from QR codes, but I think the Aurasma will be much more dynamic and students will be more inclined to scan one another’s work.
I would love to guide students to linking their work from last year on animals to their research this year. I think it would show them that the work they do never has to be entirely left in the past. In addition, it takes the work out of the four walls of the classroom and into the up-and-coming-learning-commons.
More to come!
I have been working over the past few weeks on an author study on Eric Carle with my grade ones. We have been working on the needs of plants and animals in science, so his books fit in nicely. This art project took place in three parts:
1. Tissue paper painting. This did not work so well for me. A half a dozen of my students created beautiful pieces but most had a hard time understanding what the final project was to look like. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
2. Eric Carle butterflies. Students each painted four sheets of paper. The instruction was to use vibrant colours that were neighbours on the colour wheel.
3. Cut out the shapes to form a butterfly and glue them onto large white background paper. I liked the result so much that I decided to use the same style for our classroom collaborative art project that will be auctioned off in a school fundraiser this spring. I cut small papers 3″x3″ and had students create butterflies, houses, community buildings, and people and plants we see in our community. They were allowed to let the art escape the confines of their paper and the effect was beautiful. I will choose enough art so that each child is represented in the auction piece and the remaining “inchies” will be matted and sent home as Mother’s Day gifts.
Eventually the art will be linked via QR code to the students’ blogs, which will host their related inquiry work on Alberta lakes and animals.
Today’s math centers are:
1. Math with technology: students will be using the ipads and ipods to create an “ebook” about “plus grand”. During centres, I will send two groups of students into the school with our mascots Coco and Biscuit to take pictures of things that are “plus grand que”. Students will return to the classroom to stitch their photos together into a book.
Math by myself: students will complete an addition worksheet.
3. Math with someone: students will use manipulatives and their math journals to create addition stories.
4. Math games: there are two today: addition war and addition tenzie
As sometimes happens, I was absent from my classroom two weeks ago for a morning and there were no subs available, so my students were divided up and sent to work in various classrooms. I was stunned by some of the art work some of my boys brought back to class! The teacher they worked with, Valérie, who always does such a good job of integrating literature into her classroom, shared this story with me.
“The Day the Crayons Quit” is a story about crayons who, frustrated, write a letter to their owner in the hopes of having him change the way he uses them.
Lesson plan ideas include using the story to start a conversation in Character Circle about the importance of teamwork. Valérie then had the kids create their own drawings. There were only two rules: all of the colours had to cooperate to create one picture and there could be no white space left on the pages.
With older kids, I would also use this book to teach about letter writing and voice.
Any other ideas are welcome!