Tag Archives: Science

A Little Bit of Honesty

Today I was honest with my grade 3 students and I think it surprised them. In fact, I don’t think they believed me at first.

I shared how when I was a student I did poorly. I had mostly C’s and D’s on my report cards. I wasn’t motivated to complete my tasks and would often scribble sloppily to get it done rather than taking my time and effort. My spelling was awful, I overused comma’s, my basic math number sense skills shocking and my cursive was a disaster at best. I can vividly remember learning cursive in the fourth grade. When we became “neat enough” we were given a blue ball point pen to do our school work with. I was the last person in my class to get one. My teacher said with a scowl when she handed it to me “Your cursive is still awful but you are the last one in the class to get a pen so here.” It still makes me emotional and ashamed when I think of that moment. For years I avoided writing cursively. I’m learning it all over again with my students.

I was so uninspired by my education that in grade seven instead of doing our big animal research project I had materials spread around me about penguins but I never actually completed a project. I lied to my teacher and tearily said “I did hand it in.” I guess she believed me as she said I saw you working hard on it and you’re such a nice girl. For the record, I was given a B on that project – one of my best marks in elementary school.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have potential to do well. Or that I didn’t have great educators, generally I did. I liked my teachers but I was terribly shy so asking for help when I didn’t understand something just wasn’t going to happen. I felt awkward and uncomfortable around my peers. I felt different like I couldn’t relate to them. I didn’t get them and I know for sure they didn’t get me.

I loved learning. I remember making elaborate butterfly life cycle models and painting them with my mom and bringing it proudly school in the third grade. As a Kindergarten student I was very interested in Dinosaurs and when my classmates shared for show and tell what they were going to be when they grew up I proudly proclaimed -a palaeontologist and my teacher was awestruck! I knew dinosaur names, facts, and details and created volcano models. I was fascinated by constellations prompted by winter Girl Guide hikes I remember even getting a star machine for Christmas one year that was accompanied by a tape. I would spend evening after evening listening and learning. I loved nature, collecting seeds, leaves and rocks. I read novel after novel. Young Adult, Adult didn’t matter I always had a book in hand. My parents purchased us an kids animal/nature encyclopedia set and I read all of the books cover to cover, over and over. When I think back to myself as a child I’m shocked I didn’t end up in a science-based career, but I failed grade nine science I wasn’t good at it.

I want to reiterate that I had great teachers. I was just an out of the box student that didn’t fit within the makeup of our school system.

I needed to share my struggles and then my success story with my students today because I needed them to understand that I understand. Success is so much more than an A or B on a report or a great score on a standardized test. This is why I am trying to dive more and more into an inquiry based program. The spark comes from the students and hopefully it reaches those out of the box thinkers.

My daughter is me. She wants to do her own thing all.of.the.time. She loves birds, insects, reptiles and nature collections. Her favourite netflix show is Magic School Bus (or My Little Pony). She’s soft, sensitive, shy but strong in her convictions and is great at advocating for herself. She fits well into an inquiry based world and I hope that her future teachers will get her.

IMG_0245

IMG_0006

Advertisements
Video

Testing Out Marble Roller Coasters

One of our challenges with Scientist Wendy from http://www.scientistsinschool.ca/index.php was to make a marble roller coaster to test out the force of gravity.

Social Studies Inquiry Day

Last week was our Social Studies Inquiry project day.  After working in our library learning commons space for 2 periods it became very clear that I needed to give the students a really big chunk of time in order to put their projects together.  So I told all the students that Wednesday would be Social Studies Inquiry Project day.  The kids were so excited I think of few of them responded with “it’s going to be like free time all day”.  I told them that I would provide all the materials they needed to put projects together but if they wanted anything special (e.g. glitter, stickers, colour pictures etc.) they would need to bring them in.  (Note: If you do not wish your classroom to look like a glitter bomb went off specify that the kids bring glitter glue not loose glitter).  Anyway when project day arrived I had the kids set straight to work.  I’m not going to lie it was madness and I was a little stressed out.  You already know about the glitter but there was paper scraps all over, plasticine mushed into the tiles, puddles of glue spilt all over, pencils, pencil crayons and erasers littered on every surface.  Pretty much chaos but organized creative chaos.  In the moment I had a hard time seeing the creative productive side.  I was caught up in the mess, the noise and the fact that every 30 seconds I was being pulled in one direction to the next, “can you print this Ms. Lewis-Young” or “My iPad isn’t working” and “I can’t find my glue stick lid” and even the good old “I don’t know what to do!”  I actually starting thinking to myself that the whole inquiry based learning was a nightmare and that I was never going to do it again.  I felt like I had failed.  We’ve spent so many hours learning how to ask good questions, seek out the big ideas, fine tune our questions, research answers and now this mass chaos?  They weren’t even taking it seriously just making a big huge disaster.  Or so I thought in the moment.  I asked them to line up at the door as we would take our projects to the room across the hall (an empty room) to store so they could dry.  Normally getting my class to line up can be like herding cats but they all lined up with the biggest smiles on their faces and projects in hands.  It was then at that moment that I really began to see what they had done.  Big beautiful posters, 3D plasticine models, sets for news reports all 100% kid thought of, created and crafted. I got a little bit teary because I was so proud of them and disappointed at myself all at the same time.  They had really come through and yes created a huge mess in the mean time but messes can always be cleaned.  The learning and experience that the students were given was worth it.  Every single student produced something.  Even students who are normally reluctant to work.  Pretty amazing!  I’m 100% bought into the Inquiry Based learning experience and will be running my Social Studies and Science programs 100% in this way.  I can’t wait to see how they share their projects now.

Sharing ideas and materials to create their posters

Sharing ideas and materials to create their posters

More collaboration going on

More collaboration going on

Finishing up their research using the iPads

Finishing up their research using the iPads

Using plasticine to create a 3D model

Using plasticine to create a 3D model

T's 3D model of a green space within an urban community

T’s 3D model of a green space within an urban community

S's has shared ideas how people can help keep their community and environment clean

S’s has shared ideas how people can help keep their community and environment clean

 

Close up of how Weather has an impact

Close up of how Weather has an impact

Back drop for A's video she is going to film on how weather affects where we live

Back drop for A’s video she is going to film on how weather affects where we live

Look at how gorgeous this poster is!

Look at how gorgeous this poster is!

Look out Ellen!  M has the jokes, confidence and skills to create a smash talk show!

Look out Ellen! M has the jokes, confidence and skills to create a smash talk show!