Using their existing knowledge from what the Y3s have been learning so far on story writing, I planned a 6 word story lesson based the famous bet given to Ernest Hemingway.
I selected several colourful and detail-rich illustrations from the wordless picture book, Journey by Aaron Becker. Then I added spaces and lines for the students to add the final draft of their 6 word story.
Before doing any writing, I wanted students to understand the difference between just describing a picture, and how to go beyond it, to see the story behind the picture. For this reason, we did a Venn Diagram of Description vs Imagination. The students' responses are below.
I made sure that students did not have the same picture as the person next to them.
- They were then instructed to do no writing until told to do
- Look at their partner's picture and say what they think is the story (2 mins)
- Write 3-4 draft 6 word story on the back of the sheet (10-15 mins)
- The teacher or myself could choose the best one of the drafts
- They write the chosen 6 word story on the front page with the illustrations
As the students worked, I walked around the class encouraging, helping and guiding students, as well ensuring that they were on task. I shared some of the entertaining creativity that some of these Y3s mustered up in a very short time.
In less than half an hour, the Y3 created some very imaginative 6 word tales.
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.
The last week was Curriculum Enhancement Week (CEW) in the secondary school, but some students did not participate. From them, I had four students who did not and offered to help me in the library. For some time now, I have been toying with the idea of identifying every picture book, and eventually I hope, chapter then nonfiction books by the IB Learner Profiles and Attitudes (IBLPAs).
First, I sat with the students as we went through some picture books and reviewed the traits of both IBLPAs, and how to see evidence of them in the books. I also had a last option, " This is just a great picture book", because, hey, sometimes a book is just FUN to read and we don't have to learn anything from it.
After we did this a couple of times so that I knew we were all the same page, I let the students do it on their own. Each time a book was done, a sticker was stuck to the inside front cover of the book. The purpose of this was so that teachers or students who are just browsing can see right away, without a computer, what IBLPAs are in each book. This fosters spontaneity and serendipity in browsing the books, as well helping those who don't want to search the online library catalog, a way to search manually for IBLPAs.
Then I created a Google Doc with all the IBLPAs. This was so that students could cut and paste the relevant ones into the subject headings of each book without errors and more consistency.
I then created a short video for the students to follow. Instructional videos seem to engage students and adults more, as we all become more visual learners. Also since they will not finish all the books in one week, it is likely I will have to train other students to do the same task, and perhaps even some parent volunteers. For this reason, I decided to make a short video.
I gave students administrator access to the catalog. This was because they needed to edit library records and I wanted to track which individual student for accountability reasons. After doing a couple of books, I checked in with the students to make sure they were doing it correctly, which they were.
Although they did not finish, I will get two more Y11 students who will come in weekly to help complete this task, as well as two parent volunteers. I hope to finish at least the picture book section by the end of the school year.
Our collection of library books for the primary mathematics is growing and we are ordering more for next semester. To make sure that teachers are aware of them and can find them, I made this instructional videos for teachers. I will also share it with students, Y3 to Y6, and parents.
To ensure teachers are aware of this video, I've added it to the Daily Communication that all Primary staff are expected to read on a daily basis to avoid a constant deluge of emails.
Ms. Dawson's Y4 Class also did reviews of many of our new primary books on mathematics. They were all collected in a Padlet where you can read these reviews.
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.
Y5s are in the middle of studying different body systems and each student has been assigned an organ as focus of study. This was a good opportunity to introduce and review Britannica School (ebonline):
In the first Y5 class, I shared a Google doc where they could cut and paste their answers in a table, but I found students spent too much time fiddling with the document when inputting the answers. So for the second Y5 class, I had them log into ebonline to read about their assigned organ. After a few minutes to check their recall and understanding, I had them close their computer and tell me one fact they learned about it. This worked much better, especially in the very limited time I had with them for library class (30 minutes maximum). Students also had to learn to scan for new information within a short time, about 5 minutes. Here are the results.
The first unit of inquiry for the Y4s is Who We Are with the central idea being that by exploring different cultures, students can develop an appreciation of diversity. Specifically, they will be examining:
To make the books for this unit more meaningful and individualised, students picked out a book from a library that they connected to this UOI. Students then had their photo taken with the book and they had to briefly state why they chose the book to represent the theme of diversity. All the Y4s with their books and their respective explanations were collected on a virtual wall display via Padlet, that as seen on the each Y4 Class websites.
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.