Saturday, October 15, 2016

Learning is...

In our continued effort to find where learning lives and what kind of learning we're looking for, I asked grade 4L for some feedback. They gave their thoughts on what learning is... and what learning is not. This sparked a very interesting conversation. After collating our ideas, we added our thinking to our learning wall to help guide us in our search for the BIG LEARNING each day.

Students offer feedback to the simple provocation: Learning is, learning is not...
We collated the results and added them to our visible learning wall. Using these ideas, we are able to identify where the BIG learning occurred each day.
We have referred to this wall throughout the week while generating daily learning that was meaningful. We made sure we took time at the end of each day to fill out a learning log. What we realized is that big learning sometimes comes at unexpected times. Though our learning was very different from one another, we understood straight away that what made the learning important or valuable was that it was something we would use again and again. One student even requested that I add that box to our learning logs so that they might reflect further to decide how this learning could be applied in other areas of life or how it might be used in the future. In striving to think deeply and make our learning meaningful, we have also begun to understand that it means we must take ownership of this process and be metacognitive thinkers. 

Example of a student weekly Learning Log

We found that these Learning Logs helped guide our thinking for Friday Letter writing

At the park this week, we worked as one team to pass hula hoops around a circle without letting go of each other's hands. We have become quite good and jumping right into imaginative play now that we've had some practice. This week, what started as quite a simple game became very complex with both spoken and unspoken rules. Play started out with a small group of boys and girls and then grew to include almost every member of grade 4! At some points it was "girls vs. boys" but then there grew to be "spies" and "traitors", it then evolved to include a football passing element, it further developed into play sword fights with sticks and eventually ended up in chaos and mayhem. Once the teachers stopped the game because it was becoming dangerous, we reflected that:
  • we needed to agree on rules of the game we made up
  • we needed to ensure that everyone felt safe 
  • we needed to make sure no one was getting hurt
  • we must always respect and stop when someone says they do not want to play
  • we must practice active citizenship by keeping the game fair and looking out for everyone participating
There was authentic community building and learning at the park this week. It even inspired writing projects for some of the students. 

Using the learning wall and "Learning is..." prompts, we shared some of our BIG learning from the park this week

In mathematics this week, we had a fantastically complex number talk that challenged us and then invited us to work together to build a larger mathematical understanding of a seemingly simple problem. 

Number talk for 43 - 9 demonstrates how a seemingly simple problem can turn into a very meaningful opportunity to share and expand our mathematical understanding

We also finished our work with Unit 1 on geometry. The students reflected on their understanding of different skills from our study and then completed an assessment. Because we believe in learning from mistakes and very much live by the saying, "In here mistakes are expected, inspected and respected," we spent time correcting any of the mistakes we made on the assessment. Some of us got the chance to really grow our brains as we searched for answers in many different resources. We also got a clearer understanding of why resilience is an important life skill to have as we tried, tried and tried again until we found the correct answers by thinking about problem solving in new ways. Finally, we returned to our self assessments and re-evaluated our level of understanding. 

We also began our study of Unit 2 on Using Numbers and Organizing Data. We investigated the different uses of numbers and were surprised that we never thought of numbers as anything but...numbers! We searched for different types of numbers which might be used for: counting, comparing, measuring, reference, and identification. We also generated creative ways to play the game "Name that Number" to challenge us on our own math levels.

Basel and Yigit explore different uses for numbers

Eva and Krista research to identify which kinds of numbers they've just used

Rojus and Antanas play "Name that Number"

Yigit and Shourya get excited as they determine the power of zero during their game of "Name that Number"

Aleksandras, Eva and Migle create a new spin on the game "Name that Number" to challenge themselves and push for brain growth

In language arts, we began to dig for the author's message in books we read.  We then used that to understanding to begin to evaluate our own writing to find what our message is to our readers. We shared pieces of writing with a partner or small group, and let them ask us questions about what they still needed to know. By asking each other these questions, we were able to use the feedback to revise a previous composition or apply to our next piece of writing. It didn't take us long to realize that adding details and emotions in our writing makes it much more interesting to read. We also completed our first writing prompt of the year. Our big learning from this process was that even when we don't connect deeply to a topic, we have the creative license to make the reader believe we do because we are in control of setting the mood of our writing and choosing which details we share.  

Shourya and Sofia enjoy books that have been recommended to them by classmates or teachers during Book Talks

Nora and Migle conference with one another and ask questions which will offer feedback about each other's writing (Sofija, Veronika and Yelyzaveta do the same, while Eva finishes a composition before sharing it) 

We also brought computers into class this week and began to explore them as a tool. We logged into school google accounts, discovered and experimented with how to use different functions in the various applications. We brainstormed how we might be able to use some of the google tools we explored in our class to enhance our learning. We also had another opportunity to practice being resilient problem solvers when the wifi kept cutting out- thank goodness for Mr.Colin and Mr.Thibault! 

Mr.Thibault helps Aleksandras troubleshoot

Mr.Colin troubleshoots with Sofia as others explore the wonderful world of Google
We look forward to another great week of learning ahead as we complete our summative assessment for unit of inquiry 1 and move onto unit 2, Sharing the Planet. 

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