PebbleGo is an online database for the early years, and this is the first year the school is subscribing to it.
To connect it to the current Y2 about jobs in the community, I had students work in groups of 3-4. Students shared one iPad and were assigned a job and had to research it. As they worked together, they wrote down key points on mini-whiteboards.
There are several advantages to PebbleGo:
- students are introduced to databases at an early age and learn that there is an online alternative to the Internet
- it is very focused on specific topics that are relevant to the early years, regardless of the curriculum
- it is fact-based which is the basis of inquiry-based learning and suited to this age level
- there is an audio component to every article and subject headings. This helps both native and EAL students to learn words from linking the pronunciation to the written word and visuals. For example, it was evident after this task that many Y2s did not know the word veterinarians, or did not know it was the full version of vet.
Students were engaged with searching in PebbleGo, and collaborated well with each other in collecting and sharing information.
Here is a video to give you a visual on this lesson.
As the first quarter of school comes to a close, the Y2s are finishing off landforms, and able to connect them to climate and lives.
For this final week, I chose the book, Rain School by James Rumford. The story takes place in Chad where students have to first build their school before they can begin their lessons. The dichotomy of a dry, hot climate in the plains of Central Africa with the torrential rains of the wet season prove to be a challenge, but the children use the few materials that nature provides them - grass, saplings and mud - to construct a school. However, due to the extreme weathers, the school only lasts one school year.
After we read the story, I ask students the following:
Here are the answers of two classes. In some cases, they discussed first with each other, then shared as a group, and others we discussed as a class. Although I did guide students with prompts and stem phrases, the thoughts here are very much their own.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is one of my favourite books for so many reasons. One could do an extensive lesson on this linking the character of Liam to many of the the IB Learner Profiles and Attitudes. This story also appeals to me with its themes of sustainability, and environmental design in urban living. Here is a charming and entertaining video retelling of the story.
Since the Y1s current unit of inquiry is sharing the planets with a focus on how plants and humans live together, the plot of how a Liam embarks on breathing life, literally plant life, into an abandoned rail system could not be more appropriate.
After reading the story to them, I asked Y1s the following:
Why is the story called the Curious Garden?
What does the garden do to show its curiosity?
What IB Learner Attitudes and Profiles does Liam model for us and how?
Do you think this is a true story?
Many students did not think it was a true story and when I asked why, it was mostly because of the picture book format. I told students that Liam is a fictional character, the Curious Garden was inspired by the true story of the High Line in New York, an abandoned railway that has been turned into a popular pedestrian green corridor. I showed them a video from Time.com.
Although the vocabulary and pace of speech is too advanced for the Y1s, they were fascinated by the drone shots that turned a picture book turned into reality. I paused a few times during the videos to ask them questions to check on their understanding. They definitely understood the main ideas.
After this video, I asked the students if they thought the same thing existed in Singapore. Virtually all students, said no. However I told them, we have our own High Line in Singapore and it is called the Green Corridor. It is a former rail corridor for a train that ran from the central business district of Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It ceased operation in 2012 and was 24 km long within Singapore.
Most of the rail tracks are gone, and it mostly a walking trail from north to south Singapore, with further development plans in the future.
I then showed them a drone video that capture arial views of this route that also labelled areas of Singapore. The Y1s had fun identifying which parts they lived at or had been to.
I also shared with students some of my personal photos I took when I walked the entire length from north to south in April 2016.
Video by Elaine Fong
From the Curious Garden and the videos I showed them, they could make connections to how plants, humans and abandoned structures can live together sustainable, even their own lives in Singapore, and as the Y1 unit says, share the planet.
The Y2s are 2 weeks into their current unit of inquiry on landforms. They've moved from identifying and defining landforms to now understanding how these affect our daily lives.
To make this connection I used a book from a Y3 unit of inquiry on structure, "If you lived here: houses of the world" by Giles Laroche.
I photocopied an illustration of a home from a specific part of the world. Then I read the short text related to this picture to the class describing the home and its environment. Students then had 3 minutes to discuss with a partner how the landform affected how the home was built.
Video by Elaine Fong
Working in pairs students were able to make connection with the landforms and how it affected the way people lived, ate, transported themselves and goods, as well as the materials and designs of their home. I did read them the short description of each home before to check for listening and understanding. Since many students developed their answer beyond the short text I which I had read and paraphrased the information, they had a better understanding which was reflected on their answers.
I've carried out this this lesson where students answer individually, but the responses were repetitive and similar. When working in pairs, students came up with much more original answers and unique perspectives, but some pairs did collaborate more successfully than others.