Even though the Grade 4/5 collaboration unit looked different from other years, the students’ learning was just a powerful as when the unit was more traditional in execution.
Dramatic Review of Explorers Knowledge
We divided the two classes into group of five students and each group created a country. The countries made flags and chose rulers or governments. (Each country took a “family photo” which the students thought was hilarious!)
Next, the countries chose explorers to cross the “great ocean” in search of animal pelts. I made a channel across the gym lined on both sides with benches and gym mats. The explorers worked in pairs to ride scooters along the ocean channel. When they reached the other side of the ocean, they searched for stuffed animals (pelts) and brought them back across the ocean to their rulers and/or governments.
We ended the activity with a class discussion that encouraged students to make connections between their previous knowledge of explorers and the dramatic play we just experienced.
Introducing Main Players
Before we delved into the human side of the fur trade, we spent time learning more about the beaver.
Here are some fabulous video links about beavers and their importance during the fur trade:
We used fashion to introduce each fur trade player. We examined images of clothing from museum archives and Youtube videos to draw the outfits worn by each character in our fur trade journals (i.e., Metis (men and women), voyageurs, European businessmen, settlers).
The classes was divided into two teams and played Pictionary to learn about the item that were traded.
We began a look at the trading posts by searching for images online and making comparisons between various posts.
The students formed new groups and were tasked with creating a trading post diorama complete with a map and key. This took three classes and a lot of glue gun sticks! The library furniture was cleared so that students could work with their materials on the floor.
Students used their newly acquired "maker" skills from the Plant Adaptations unit to work safely with glue guns that were needed for adhering the wooden materials such as popsicle sticks and branches to the base.
Many students brought supplies from home. This allowed the students to give their dioramas personal touches.
The dioramas were displayed along the common area hallway during parent-teacher conferences for all the families to admire.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning alongside the Grade 4 and 5 students as they inquired about plant adaptations in Term 1.
My first post included our work on venus fly traps and the lianas that took over the tree in the intermediate shared area.
The students added writing pieces to the bulletin board after our sessions in the library.
After exploring adaptations caused by lack of sunlight and nutrient-rich soil, we moved onto water and seed dispersal adaptations.
Part 2: Lilies and Mushrooms
We watched a few videos about the water lilies and then worked in small groups to make the water lilies and pads.
Each group member made a specific part of the plant adaptation:
Once again we examined a few videos about puffball fungi before making our own.
The mushrooms were constructed by:
We used the tree stump props from the drama studio as bases for the mushrooms. The students made extra bright and beautiful mushrooms for fun to add to the display.
I am so excited to have weekly scheduled collaboration time with Division 2 and 4 this year. We kicked off the year with inquiring about plant needs in the Amazon Jungle. (The Intermediate pod is named the "Amazon Pod" this year due to the school-wide jungle theme.)
So far, we have explored carnivorous plants and lianas. Students have demonstrated their learning through art and with writing.
Library Collaboration with Division 7 is AMAZING!
Instead of a teacher prep block, Library Time is now a collaboration block with the wonderful Miss D and her class!
We've been weaving fairytales (books and oral retellings) into ADST activities as we focus our efforts on design thinking and creating with empathy in mind.
The Three Little Pigs Cousins
Now that the three little pigs live together in the brick house, life has become little crowded. It's about to get even cozier with the pigs' cousin, rubber ducky, coming for a sleepover!
The students designed bunk beds that met the special sleeping needs of the pigs and the duck:
Pig #1: Rolls around a lot
Pig #2: Sleep Apnea (resulting in loud snoring)
Pig #3: Talks in his sleep
Ducky: Only used to sleeping alone
Miss D used the magic of the red clown classes and transformed into Inspector Clouseau, the little pigs' furniture agent. Each student had one minute to explain the bunk bed design to the inspector, highlighting the special features of their design.
The pigs were very impressed by the bunk bed creations and spread the word to their friends in Fairytale Land. Inspector Clouseau suggested that the students start a furniture company to help the citizens of Fairytale Land. The students eagerly agreed and have begun to create their company's logo.
My jungle bulletin board was missing something.
So, I asked the Grade 4/5 teacher, Queen Troll, if she would be willing to make monkeys with her art class for my library. I showed her a picture of Kerri & Lindsay's "Teacher Bits and Bobs" paper bag monkeys and she said they would be done by the end of the first week of school.
On Friday, I entered the library to find this waiting for me.
It was like a scene out of WWII movie.
The carnage of monkeys was unnerving.
There wasn't just one class-worth of monkeys. Oh, no. Queen Troll had all four art classes make monkeys.
I had to find homes for 80+ monkeys.
It turned out to be a humorous adventure as I spent the next three hours spreading monkeys around the school!
They spilled over into the office and upstairs in the Amazon Pod open area.
So many monkeys!
I had the pleasure of creating a culminating activity for Division 1 and 3’s Natural Resources Unit just before spring break. I decided to expand upon an idea that was presented at the BCTLA Conference last October 19, 2018 in Richmond, BC… Space Mining!
I wanted to combine the students’ learning surrounding mining and rock formations along with the coding practice we had been learning in library class.
Introducing Mars Base Alpha
I began with creating videos to introduce the activity and team roles. I am still a novice at creating videos using screencasts and green screens so the videos are very basic. Students formed teams, signed up for roles, and came up with team names. It was very neat to see the students think deeply about which role suited them the best and would benefit their team the most.
Creating the Surface of Mars
Lady D (my spunky library technician and I used painters tape to create a grid on the library floor.
Tip #1: FROGTAPE
Do not use cheap dollar store tape. BIG mistake! I ended taping down the original dollar store tape because it wouldn’t sick to the carpet.
Just use FROGTAPE!
Rock specimens were placed in the left hand corners of the grid squares thanks to our incredible Grade 5 teacher, Queen Troll. This allowed room for students to walk without accidentally kicking the specimens. There were a few fun life signs in the squares: Martian rubber duckies, graffiti art, a skull, water, and a plant.
Tip #2: Healthy Dose of Fear
We used the skull as a reminder that the surface of Mars is a dangerous environment. It was also a reminder to respect the “Evacuation Count Down” (a.k.a. space mining is over & go back to class) or you’ll be left on the surface of the moon indefinitely!
Tip #3: Lighting
We realized our iPads do not have flashes during the dry run. Oops! To provide enough light to take pictures, we opened the electric shutters a little bit, projected a Youtube video of Mars on the screen, hung Christmas lights, and placed battery-operated tea lights on the grid corners. We are planning to invest in headlamps for next year!
Authorized Access Only Tunnel
The tunnel was definitely an example of the indulgence I am afforded by my principal, Aussie Gal, and Lady D. Using rolling bookshelves, a rolling whiteboard, and 2 huge blue tarps we created a tunnel from the library to the gym. The Technical Engineers and the Astronauts used the tunnel; it was completely unnecessary, but so much fun to use!
Tip #4: Nails and Butterfly/Binder Clips
I used nails to attach the tarps to the bulletin boards and my amazing administration assistant, Ms. Gate Keeper, suggested using binder clips to hold the tarps together. Brilliant!
NASA Mars Base Alpha Workstation
Our Fine Arts School has large black curtains in the gym that became the perfect backdrops for our NASA Mars Base Alpha Workstation. We were a little short on tables, so two teams worked at single table with a divider in the middle of the table with the teams' names on it. The Mapping Engineers had a clipboard with the blank grid of the library floor, pencils, erasers, pencil crayons, and NASA ID badges. The Master Coders had a clipboard, a stack of paper, erasers, pencils, and NASA ID badges.
A table with rock and mineral books for reference along with a table of astronaut uniforms were set up to the side of the workstations. A NASA sign and a Coding Example poster adorn the walls.
Tip #5: Recycling
We realized quickly that the students needed to a place to throw out there used code papers to avoid confusions. Have a big paper recycling bin handy!
The Mapping Engineers examined the blank grid and chose one square to be photograph by the astronaut. The Master Coder wrote a code to take the astronaut from the starting square to the square that was to be photographed. The Master Coder gave the iPad and the written code to the Technical Engineer, who transported the iPad and code to the Astronaut. The Astronaut waited in the tunnel with fellow Astronauts.
The Astronaut walked the code, knelt down, and used the iPad camera function to photograph the desired square.
The Astronaut returned the equipment to the Technical Engineer, who delivered the equipment to the NASA workstation.
The Mapping Engineers viewed the image on the iPad, drew the image in the square on the blank grid. Another square was then chosen and another code written. The Technical Engineer erased the previous image before returning the iPad and new code to the astronaut.
Tip #6: Use 2 iPads
While the astronaut was using one iPad, a second iPad was being prepped for the next mission by the Mapping Engineers and Master Coder. This kept everyone constantly working and reduced waiting time.
It was a success!
As with any first attempt, there were a few bumps in the road. However, the students were super focussed for 2 hours, codes improved throughout the activity, rocks were correctly identified, and everyone work as a team.
As for yours truly, I ended the activity happily exhausted!