We’ve both gained a lot by being part of the Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator program. Self-nominations are now open for the MIEE program and we’d encourage fellow educators to apply for this amazing professional learning experience!
As we work through this busy and often stressful time of year, remember to take care of yourselves! We can’t do our best work if we don’t take time for wellness. We wish all of our colleagues, friends and family a wonderful summer!
Here’s our first official episode of Carpool Karaoke EDU Edition – 5(ish) reasons why we love project-based learning!
The Kenton Girls have started a new form of reflecting and sharing thanks to inspiration from our fellow Microsoft Expert Educator, Brian Aspinall. Check out his post on Carpool Karaoke Education Edition! Here’s our intro:
Our latest collaborative project is well underway! The grade 1s are looking forward to participating in the World Wildlife Fund Polar Bear Walk, which they have planned in partnership with the Oak Lake Community School Kindergarten class and a group of Brandon University Faculty of Education students. We hope that we can raise awareness about the problems polar bears are having due to global warming and we’d like to make a small donation to support the World Wildlife Fund’s work with polar bears.
About the Polar Bear Walk – quoted from http://polarbearwalk.wwf.ca/
“Every year, polar bears in Hudson Bay walk up to 5,000 kilometres across the Arctic sea ice in the search for food and to raise their cubs. But the sea ice on which they depend is changing, and in some cases disappearing altogether. To help the polar bears that make their home on the ever shrinking expanse of sea ice, Sean Hutton founded the first Polar Bear Walk in 2013 when he was just seven years old! Join Sean in symbolically walking alongside the polar bear in our first-ever national Polar Bear Walk. Whether you walk 1km or 5km, you will double your impact for polar bears by raising awareness about rapid climate change and collecting toonies (which feature the iconic species) to combat the threats to their survival.”
About our Project-Based Learning
When we focus our classroom learning on a project such as this, it is called project-based learning. Students develop skills and knowledge that will help them meet their project goals. As an educator, I decide what curriculum connections can be made and which lessons to teach that will help students meet grade 1 goals while also working on their project. Project-based learning is typically very engaging and exciting for students, plus students learn to be active citizens because they are making a difference with their project.
The project is a great example of the interdisciplinary learning that is possible with project-based learning. As part of this project, we have been doing lots of research on polar bears. We are reading books, watching videos and writing about what we’ve learned. We hope to publish a class book about polar bears soon! Since we are working on this project with another class, we are “taking notes” together using a tool called OneNote. We’ve also had the chance to hear from some guest speakers via video call. Mr. Andy McKiel shared stories and photos from his trip to visit the polar bears in Churchill, MB. An interpreter from the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody, Wyoming taught us all about animal adaptations. Our science learning has focused on the needs and characteristics of living things, so that is also a great fit with this project. We are learning about what living things need to survive, how humans and other animals are the same and different and which life processes living things have in common. Polar bears have even become part of our art! We have created some cute polar bear crafts and we are learning to draw polar bears too. As we prepare for our walk, we are designing posters to carry with us with important messages to raise awareness.
This week, we connected with our partner classroom, the Oak Lake Community School Kindergarten class, via video call. After a quick review of the student-generated guidelines for a great video call from last week, we focused on a patterning lesson. The grade 1s in my class were able to explain what they know about patterns and they helped teach the Kindergartens about patterns. I was pleased to hear my grade 1s explaining that “patterns repeat over and over” and the grade ones capably started patterns for the Kindergartens to extend. We shared patterns orally and using actions, then asked the other class to extend the pattern. Our classes agreed to use the non-verbal signal of a thumbs up to show if the pattern was extended correctly in the other classroom.
I issued a challenge to complete a follow up patterning activity after the call. The challenge was to go on a “pattern hunt” to find and photograph patterns. After a quick lesson on how to take a photograph on our class devices, students in my classroom worked in pairs or groups of 3 to find examples of patterns in our classroom. Students found patterns in clothing, on backpacks and pencil cases and around the room.
Below is the Sway presentation our class created with the photographs from both classes. We also included photos from our earlier work in creating patterns. Students were excited to share this presentation with their families during the school open house!
We had our first video call with Mrs. Obach’s Grade 1 class in Hamiota today. We had some difficulty with our video calling tools so we ended up alternating between Google Hangouts and Facebook video caller (our network settings kept blocking my video camera). Both are excellent options for collaboration…Facebook has fantastic video quality and Google Hangouts has the ability to share your screen with the other members of the call. Skype remains a favourite tool, but isn’t set up on my new computer.
Leah and I decided that it was important to connect early in the year and establish norms for video calls. The students worked together to generate a list. Mrs. Obach’s Grade 1s took responsibility for recording our ideas, and my kindergarten students added images to the list.
Take a look at our guidelines for a good video call!