Thursday, August 9, 2012

The next stage in our thinking journey

This has been an exciting week for a colleague, Cheryl Wolmarans and I as our new school website went live. We started working on the site during the holidays in Weebly. It's a really simple platform for web-building. Most of the functions are drag and drop. We have used the free version and it was such a pleasure to work with. We used Microsoft's Auto Collage to produce the banner images. We would love to upgrade to the Pro version of the software so we can add video and other features but at least we have the basic product up and running.

In the Grade 3 lesson last week I gave the students a problem solving scenario using a story about hunter gatherers. They had to work out a way of getting a dead buffalo to their home for cooking. I have posted some of their responses on the blog that is attached to our website. Some of them demonstrate some lateral thinking and some of them are just so funny sweet.

This week we focused on brainstorming. They worked in pairs and listed all the things they know about trees. I then made a master mind map of all their facts. They then had to work in their team and produce a document answering the question, "Can we survive on Earth without trees?" As it was a fairly short activity I asked them to then use their computer skills to format their document and add a picture. This will be one of our term assessments.

Next week I'm going to use a visual ranking tool in the Intel Free Teacher Tools suite. I am giving them a list of inventions and asking them to work in teams to rank the inventions by importance. As I write this I think it may be more interesting to ask them to give me a list of important inventions and then get them to do the visual ranking exercise.  Ok, adjustment required here. Using visual ranking involves critical thinking.

I am finding that the students are becoming comfortable with the concept of developing good thinking and they work with commitment. It's been an exciting journey so far. I'm looking forward to see what develops.

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