Thursday, 25 February 2016

Community - Challenge Based Learning

We conducted our video call today with a fellow year 2 class in New South Wales. Things weren't all smooth sailing as the school we were calling had some crazy restrictions on websites including Skype. We tried Google Hangouts as I was really keen to try that but it wouldn't work and Facetime decided (after the first successful attempts) that it wouldn't co-operate when we went 'live'. In the end, as the teacher and I were friends on Facebook, we decided to try out Facebook's video chat function; it was a resounding success - PHEW!!!

Aside from the technical difficulties, the students really enjoyed learning about each others communities. We had quite a lot of questions that we wanted to ask our new friends and they were so keen on hearing the answers. It was especially interesting to see my students reactions when they found out the other school only had around 250 students compared to our nearly 1000.

The most rewarding thing for me to see was the genuine curiosity the students displayed and the keen interest they showed in learning something that was very interesting to them. Learning about community as our Challenge Based Learning (CBL) topic this term has really opened their eyes to the world outside their own and to see them so deeply involved in their path of learning has been invaluable.

The students have learnt important 21st century learning skills such as critical thinking and problem solving as well as communication and collaboration skills. For me, I have learnt to sit back more and let the children lead their learning and act more as a facilitator. It has given me more passion to learn more about how children learn rather than how I can teach them; which I think is much more important.

From here, we will follow up with our video call by keeping in touch with our new friends via blogs and handwritten letters. It's amazing the amount of key learning that can be undertaken from such a simple sounding topic - reading (reading about the school we are 'visiting'), writing (writing questions and then writing to the other students), maths (data gathering, analysis, mapping and graphing), geography (the world around us, Australian places), History (the growth of our school). It has been an incredible thing to witness.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

App Smashing with Pic Collage and Pieces Basic

Numeracy is in full swing in my grade 2 class and with so much to learn about, what better way to do it than to integrate different learning areas under one topic. 
Blog 4Using our Challenge Based Learning (CBL) big idea of 'Community' we decided we would explore how our school community has changed in size since it first opened in 2011. Students will be learning about collecting and analysing data, creating tables and graphs and place value together.
Today we gathered our data by looking at all the school pictures in the main admin building (which listed the school's population) and by asking our great office staff for help. We used this data to create a basic table in our Numeracy books. From there, we looked at

Sunday, 21 February 2016

This Week in Class...

I’m really excited to be doing something a little outside the box this week in class. Our Challenged Based Learning (CBL) topic this term is ‘Community’ and our challenge is to ‘build a community of togetherness’. As a guiding activity for the students this week, they will be going on a virtual field trip using Google StreetView to explore how a country/ rural community is similar or different to their suburban community. I have teamed up with a friend of mine in this rural community (who also teaches year 2) and after our students have had their 'field trip’ they will be Skyping them. They will ask them a series of questions that they will develop themselves about their community with the goal being to understand how communities can be different. 

I’ve not done an activity like this before but am really excited about seeing what sort of things the students notice on their ‘field trip’ and what sort of questions they will come up with. 

I’ll post about the experiences on here on my blog at the end of the week. 

Has anyone else done something similar in their class? 

Friday, 19 February 2016

Using Evernote and Squid to Stay Organised

I've felt much more organised this year which is a good thing, since I have a chatty bunch of grade 2's to deal with. It's also funny how everything has just seemed to fall into place in my second year of teaching. I am feeling much more confident and much less stressed about the small stuff.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A
with s-pen (8" version)
One way that I have found I have kept myself better organised is by using my new tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S-pen). In particular, I have been using a combination of the apps 'Squid' and 'Evernote' to keep all my reading conferences, running records and number assessments together.

Before I talk about the use of the apps, I have to first explain the choice of tablet. I used to own a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and I loved it. I used it a lot whilst I was studying but decided to sell it so I could buy a decent laptop. I didn't think I would have a need for a tablet like that once I was teaching. The one thing I loved most about it was the fact that the stylus was the closest resemblance to writing with an actual pen.

I feel so organised by keeping all my
notes in Evernote.
Fast forward to teaching and I had been using an iPad that my school provided and I found annotating or any form of note taking (using handwriting) so difficult using those awful fat, squishy styluses and even worse using my equally fat, squishy fingers (haha). I know I could spend money to get a decent stylus for the iPad but they are still clunky, need batteries or in some cases will only work on certain apps. So, this is why I went back to buying my own 8 inch Galaxy tablet with the s-pen.

*disclaimer - this is not an ad for Samsung, I know there are a few brands with pen-like styluses; I just prefer this brand as it is what I am most familiar with.