For my new friends in Ottawa who attended this morning's workshop -- here are the materials from the session, as requested and as promised:
Thank you for your engaged, passionate participation. I really enjoyed our time together this morning, and look forward to hearing tales of your great work with students across the Ottawa-Carlton region!
For those of us who grew up in a time when "computers" meant a 20-minute bus ride to a lab at a nearby school to attend hour-long sessions once a week on the Macs so close to the origins you could almost eat them from the tree, the Internet is a marvelous thing!
A few weeks ago, I met a teacher in Australia on Edmodo, a virtual tool I've been using to get my classroom online and my students engaged in digital learning. Said teacher was keen to form a partnership with a Grade 6 class anywhere in the world in order to embark on a collaborative financial literacy project.
Game to try something new, I responded.
Over the (ours in Canada) winter break, my new colleague and I busily emailed back and forth, planning out what a collaboration like this might look like. Edmodo allows teachers to set up groups and students and "co-teachers", so my new Aussie friend set up an Edmodo class/group called "Friends in Finance" and made me a co-teacher, and we invited all of our students to join.
The end goal is to have our students work in small groups (online) to research, prepare and "present" a project that will showcase their evolving understanding of money and math concepts that transcend culture. But we knew that an important first step would be introducing our classes to one another, and developing both their media savvy and their collaboration skills. So we each decided to create class Padlet highlighting student interests and skills.
The virtual introductions went well, and students in both classes are now commenting on one another's posts as they get to know each other and ask questions to find out more about their respective school cultures. ("Will we be allowed to keep in touch when the project is over?" asked one boy in my class this morning, after reading Ms. Cross' class latest posts from down under.)
It's been interesting to observe which students in my class continue to take or embark on "leadership roles" online, and which are more tentative in their approach. (Fodder for term two learning skills comments for report cards, LOL!)
One serendipitous marriage of timing and teachable moments has been that we are just in the midst of our Space unit in science in my classroom in Canada, and as we study orbits and cycles, and in particular the rotation of the earth and why our "day" has 24 hours, our new relationship with this Australian class has provided a very practical learning opportunity for my students: it's one thing to read about cycles in a Science text or watch a video, and quite another to realize that the reason it takes 12 hours for students to receive a response to their message on Edmodo from their new friends is that while we are at school they are sleeping, and vice versa, due to their relative location to us on earth.
So, our little cross cultural friendship project is not only fostering cooperation beyond the physical classroom and providing an opportunity to co-study global finance, but is also lending itself well to other parts of the curriculum!
I am looking forward to co-learning with my new teaching partner and our students as we muddle through this virtual experiment together.
In keeping with the admittedly somewhat questionable practice of treats to motivate learners, I stole an idea I saw a colleague online use, and embarked with my Grade 6 students on an exploration of the lunar cycle with Oreo cookies today (thanks, Ricky, for sponsoring this lesson!!)!
After having done some full class discussion and video watching, and a little guided reading groups using texts about orbits in general and the lunar cycle in particular over the past several days, I introduced the task: Work in your group to model, describe and explain the phases of the moon, using Oreo cookies and whatever technology you wish.
First we co-constructed and posted some criteria for the assignment, then students eagerly set about researching the lunar cycle to confirm, consolidate or extend their understanding, and began building their models.
The rule was they were not allowed to eat their materials until I had seen and heard their "presentation". (This rule proved more of a challenge for some group members than others, but everyone seemed to enjoy the task pretty well, and most demonstrated a reasonable level of understanding!!)
The overall results were quite good, and the model really allowed students to demonstrate their understanding (or lack thereof), as they used it to describe each phase of the lunar cycle and explain how the relative position of the sun and/or the earth resulted in the different appearance of the moon. (And there there were errors, they could easily be corrected kinaesthetically as well as orally.)
Next up, a little "Math Eyes"...
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera now focuses most of her written attention to prolific blogging, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and, more recently, SMARTbansho and Homeschooling 4. Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
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