Archive for the ‘looking closely’ Category

looking for math outdoors

Posted on: January 4th, 2017 by jnovakowski

During my last visit of the year to the Kindergarten classes at General Currie Elementary, it was a snowy and icy day so we decided to venture outdoors with some iPads to capture images of things that inspired our mathematical thinking. We had a quick talk with the students about how to look for math outdoors – looking up, looking down, looking all around. We talked about what math might look like outdoors – the counting of items, the shape of things, patterns in the environment, as well as sources of inspiration for thinking about math.

One of the first mathematical ideas we played with was shadows – how does your position affect your shadow? what determines the height of your shadow? what do we need to think about if we wanted to put our shadows in height order?

img_9287 img_9288

As with the case of all our school sites…there is a story that lives there. General Currie was one of the first one room school houses on what was originally called Lulu Island. We stopped briefly at the historic building that is still on the new school’s site and talked about the time elapsed – what school might have been like, what the neighbourhood might have looked like, etc.

img_9289 img_9290

We ventured on to the field and took photos as we walking along noticing nests in trees, tracks in the snow, all sorts of ice and frozen leaves.

img_9291 img_9292

img_9295 img_9296 img_9297 img_9298

The ice was a source of fascination and many questions for the students. They were also very interested in some footprints they found and wondered about the size of different footprints or tracks.

We came back into the classroom and the students used the app Skitch with one of the photographs they took. They labelled, circled or used arrows to show where they noticed math or what inspired a mathematical problem or question.

img_9301 img_9302 img_9303 img_9304

Classroom teacher Kelly Shuto then showed some of the students “skitches” to the class to inspire further questions.

img_9305 img_9306

The following week Kelly tweeted out about the class photo book they had created, based on the idea “What math lives here?”

img_9481

img_9480 img_9479

In this crisp wintery weather, what will your students notice outdoors? What math lives in the frozen puddles and tracks through the snow? How far do animals need to travel to find food? What might your students wonder about?

~Janice

primary teachers study group: second session

Posted on: December 7th, 2016 by jnovakowski

A summary of our first primary teachers study group session and goals for the year can be found HERE.

For our second session of the school year, the primary teachers study group met at the Richmond Nature Park. We read and discussed the story of this place and learned about the formation of the bog environment and the uniqueness of this ecosystem. We connected this to the video of the formation of the delta from the online Musqueam teachers resource developed by the MOA and the Musqueam Nation which can be found HERE.

img_9011

 

img_8600 img_8599 img_8598 img_8597

We visited different parts of the Nature Park, thinking about how we could engage students in different spaces. The Nature Park has a covered area with picnic benches for eating or journalling as well as other seating areas.

img_8613 img_8614

Another favourite spot is the bird watching area where there are many bird feeders set up that are visited by a variety of birds and squirrels. Makes for excellent observing and a chance look closely at animal behaviour! I like to take video to share with students after a trip to “re-live” and discuss what they noticed.

img_8602

 

We walked through along the board walk and took a short trail loop to notice and talk about the variety of trees and plants in the park and ways to engage students. We also bounced on the bog!

img_9015

One of the plants we looked closely at was Labrador Tea, a common local bog plant, turning the leaves over to help identify it. Traditional local indigenous uses for this plant include making a tea infusion to treat colds and sore throats.

img_8635

We looked at the variety of bat and bird houses and discussed these as a great ADST project for students to consider and design based on the needs of their local environment. “Bug hotels” or pollinator houses are another design option as well for school garden spaces.

img_9016

As it got dark, we visited the Nature House where one of the staff members shared some interesting information about local snakes with us.

img_9018

Teachers who have brought classes to the Nature Park shared some of their experiences and the Blair team shared how they were doing a self-guided trip with three classes the following week and were doing three different inquiry-based stations during their trip.

We will be meeting again in January, registration is still open on the Richmond Professional Learning Events site.

I am curious what sort of questions our students are having about the impact of the snow and cold on the living things around their schools?

~Janice

primary teachers study group: intro to environmental inquiry

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

Last week, Richmond’s primary teachers study group began its fourteenth year of coming together as a group of teachers to investigate an area of interest through sharing, discussion and collaborative inquiry. After a year of looking at inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning in three specific curricular areas last year, the group voted to look at a more interdisciplinary approach to inquiry this year, choosing environmental inquiry. Teachers also wanted to examine different ways to document and make student learning visible during inquiry.

For our first session of the year, we met in Anna Nachbar’s and Deanna Mayotte’s classroom spaces at McNeely. Anna and Deanna have been teaching grades 2&3 together for several years but this year have been able to move to a shared space of two rooms and a co-teaching model. Anna shared their thinking and process and how they have focused on the learning environment and noticing how students are responding to is and making adjustments. They have a variety of choices for flexible seating and spaces for students to collaborate. The students and teachers have also been spending a lot of time outside, gathering from their school garden and spending time in their wooded area at the school. The class has been spending time looking closely and using different art materials as they do observational drawing.

img_7806

Several different professional resources and children’s books were displayed for teachers to look at and then we came together in a circle to discuss the format of the study group for some of our new members and for teachers to share some of the things they have been trying regarding outdoor learning.

img_7807 img_7808 img_7812

The Outdoor Learning book list can be downloaded here: ptsg-outdoor-learning-resources-book-list

The group of us then walked outside and through the school’s wooded area, stopping and looking closely, considering and sharing different ways to engage students in observing aspects of the outdoors. A first step to engaging in environmental inquiry is nurturing a connectedness to the natural world. Students need to feel connected in order to care about the environment and take action to protect it.

img_7814 img_7813 img_7816 img_7817

We noticed such a variety of trees, plants and fungi growing in this small area as well as traces of human activity – cleared paths, clearing of some areas, garbage. What might our students notice? What might they wonder about?

Teachers left with ideas for different ways for their students to interact and connect to the environment and thoughts about ways to find natural spaces and living things in their school area for their students to begin to see as learning spaces. When we meet again in November, we will share what we have been trying and ways we are beginning to document our learning experiences outside.

~Janice

how materials inspire inquiry

Posted on: October 15th, 2015 by jnovakowski 2 Comments

Building on our Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry series, there will be several professional learning opportunities in our district this year that focus on specific aspects of playful inquiry. On the professional development day on September 25, Marie Thom and I hosted an afternoon at Thompson Elementary focused on how materials inspire inquiry.

A variety of art materials were presented alongside natural materials found in our area to inspire attendees to think about the changing of the seasons, what stories live in fall and to consider a connection to place and the cycles that autumn brings.

IMG_0540 IMG_0541 IMG_0542 IMG_0543 IMG_0544 IMG_0545

Some of the teachers attending mentioned that they had never used charcoal pencils or watercolour pencils themselves and this was part of the intent of the session. We wanted teachers to consider the affordances of different materials and what they each offer so that they can make intentional decisions about which art materials they may provide to students. We emphasized the notion that students need to also learn how to use the materials, take care of them and to consider what materials might be more suitable for different projects. Just like with tech “apps”, we want students eventually to be able to have a repertoire of materials that they can choose from to use to help them think about an idea or to represent their thinking.

IMG_0546

By looking closely and observing leaves, nuts, branches and other objects outside or brought into the classroom, inquiry naturally emerges and students wonder aloud, creating an opportunity for teachers to seize the moment and create ways for students to investigate their question, to look even more closely or test their ideas. Working with art materials may uncover new ways of thinking about the object or their questions.

IMG_0551 IMG_0550 IMG_0549 IMG_0548 IMG_0547

If this is an area of interest for you, two professional books we recommend are: The Language of Art by Ann Pelo and In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia by Leila Gandini and Louise Cadwell.

~Janice

looking closely: the power of observation in early science experiences

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by jnovakowski

On Friday afternoon, as part of BC’s PSA day, I presented a session at the BCScTA conference at Cambie Secondary here in Richmond. I shared some inquiry projects we have been working on in Richmond primary classes focusing on “looking closely” and investigating science outdoors.

IMG_6361

The following is the handout shared at the session:

Looking Closely BCSCTA 2014

-Janice

observing and wondering about worms

Posted on: May 25th, 2014 by jnovakowski

On Friday, I joined Karen Sato’s and Marisa Quan’s grade 1 classes at Blair for a morning of investigating worms. My morning at Blair was part of an ongoing collaborative inquiry with the primary teachers, considering ways for students to represent and share their science learning through note booking, with a focus of connecting to the outdoor environment.

In each class we began with some wonder questions…having the students think about what they were curious about. We talked about what questions we could find out answers to by observing the worms and how we might need to consult a worm expert to find answers to some of their questions.

IMG_1349 IMG_1372

 

It was a rainy day and the students at Blair are usually easily able to find many many worms on a rainy day. But Friday, they were nowhere to be found. The students speculated that they were hiding or at school or maybe on vacation ;)

IMG_1353

We were persistent (like scientists sometimes have to be) and dug down deep in the garden and found some worms! The students looked closely at the worms in small groups, using magnifying glasses if they wanted to.

IMG_1377 IMG_1359

The students tried to find the worms’ eyes and mouths and were captivated by the way the worms moved and how they felt.

IMG_1375 IMG_1364  IMG_1357 IMG_1387

One student, who seemed perplexed by all of our talk of how the worms felt asked me if worms had feelings. I told him that was such a big question and that scientists are always trying to investigate what other animals are able to feel and think. He really wanted to know though and so I explained that I didn’t think that worms had feelings of sadness and happiness like we do but they could feel things that were soft or rough or dark or light and maybe sense if danger was coming, like when they come up from underground when it is raining so they don’t drown.

The students recorded their observations, where they searched for the worm and further questions they had. We also read a short article on worms from the Kids versions of worldbookonline. This answered some of the students’ questions and raised more questions for them!

IMG_1396 IMG_1395 IMG_1394 IMG_1393 IMG_1392  IMG_1384 IMG_1381 IMG_1380

The following link takes you to a short Animoto video of the students’ observations of worms.

http://animoto.com/play/wEfDK24ZUQG2E0eqt9J0uw

~Janice

observations at the pond with K/1

Posted on: May 11th, 2014 by jnovakowski

The K/1 students at Blair visited the pond at Thompson Community Centre to look closely at the seasonal changes happening there and to record some of their observations. We reviewed what it meant to make observations…to look closely, to zoom in, to notice details, to stay awhile and not rush around. The students used the magnifying glasses and loupes to get up close to some of the plants around the pond. They were excited to look for some moving living things and found success near the end of our visit when a large water strider made its way across the pond.

IMG_1060 IMG_1059 IMG_1075 IMG_1074 IMG_1073 IMG_1071

IMG_1065 IMG_1062

While we were at the pond, the students recorded what they noticed…some focused on one or two things while others tried to capture everything they saw!

IMG_1083 IMG_1082 IMG_1081

 

Back in the classroom, the students added some colour to their drawings and we had the discussion around observing and recording like a scientist…for example, What colour was that flower you drew? You may want it to be purple because that’s your favourite colour, but if a scientist recorded what she saw, she would try and capture the exact colour of that yellow flower that we observed.

~Janice

 

noticing and comparing plants at Blair

Posted on: May 11th, 2014 by jnovakowski

IMG_1038I visited Blair at the end of April and worked with the grades 2 & 3 students in Daisy Khare’s class. The students were beginning to learn about plants and we decided it was an ideal time to go outside and look closely at the school’s new garden beds. Some of the other classes’ plantings were growing so well already.

IMG_1037

This gave us a great opportunity to discuss looking closely at plants – noticing the colours, the textures, the lines, the shapes, the markings, the size, etc. The students were asked to choose two different plants to observe and notice what was the same and what was different about them. The students enjoyed using magnifying glasses and loupes to really zoom in on the details.

IMG_1024 IMG_1025 IMG_1023IMG_1020

IMG_1027 IMG_1019 IMG_1018 IMG_1010The students took their science notebooks outside with them and recorded their observations with drawings and words. We left it up to the students how they would do this.

IMG_1005 IMG_1004 IMG_1016 IMG_1015 IMG_1014 IMG_1031

It was interesting to listen in on some of the students’ conversations. Many of them wondered what the plants were exactly and looked for clues (like plant markers with the names on them!) to help them out. They were excited to see bright red radishes bulging up through the soil. One student noticed the tendrils on the pea plants and wondered what they were for.

IMG_1013

This led to other questions from the students and they began recording their questions in their notebooks alongside their observations.

IMG_1034 IMG_1033 IMG_1032

We came back inside for students to focus on the recording of their experience in their science notebooks. It was impressive to see the variety of formats the students chose to show their learning.

IMG_1044 IMG_1043 IMG_1042 IMG_1041 IMG_1040 IMG_1039

This experience for the students was connected to the primary teachers’ professional collaborative inquiry looking at taking science outdoors and making students’ learning visible through science notebooking.

~Janice

primary scientists professional learning series

Posted on: April 20th, 2014 by jnovakowski

Last Tuesday after school, a group of primary teachers gathered in Pauline’s Stephenson’s grades 1/2 classroom at Brighouse for our final Primary Scientists professional learning series session of the year. The series has focused on the assessment of performance-based and process oriented science experiences and this session’s focus was on incorporating indigenous knowledge as we connect students to the outdoors through place-based learning experiences. Several resources were shared, many from Strong Nations publishing.

IMG_0960 IMG_0961

The local salmonberry bushes are in bloom. Salmonberries are one of only a few berries that are native to Richmond and are the first berries to come into season, usually in June. We are beginning to create an ethnobotany resource for K-12 Richmond science teachers to provide information about local plants and their traditional uses by the Coast Salish peoples.

Since this was our last session in this series, teachers also brought something to share to celebrate their personal areas of professional focus in science this year. Karen Sato from Blair shared an animoto she created documenting a spring walk with her class, highlighting Blair’s focus on place-based learning and getting outdoors. Tanyia Kusch, also from Blair, shared some rock investigations her students did, inspired by the picture book this  group received at our last session in February, If You Find a Rock.

Pauline Stephenson from Brighouse shared the documental panels she created, highlighting several areas of focus from our series – getting outside, process-based science experiences and observational drawing.

IMG_0973

IMG_0967

IMG_0971

IMG_0972

The primary team from Ferris has been working outside in their school garden with their K students and have been documenting their experiences using the app PicCollage on the school’s iPads.

Terra McKenzie from Errington shared some of the looking closely photos she has taken with her class using the zoomy digital microscope. Here is a photo of the surface of a leaf on one of their Spuds in Tubs potato plants. Looking closely for sure!

bDD1625F-3B9ACA00-1-Photo on 2014-04-10 at 9.55 AM

Louesa Byrne from Thompson shared a series of the documentation panels she has created and shared with her students and parents to help make the students’ science learning visible.

IMG_0969 IMG_0970 IMG_0968

This has been an inspiring series, with lots of collaboration and sharing amongst colleagues. Here’s hoping that it can continue next year as we look ahead to our redesigned curriculum and assessment frameworks in BC!

~Janice

documenting the components of soil

Posted on: April 19th, 2014 by jnovakowski

I made my monthly visit to McNeely last Monday to work the grades 2/3 teachers on their collaborative inquiry in using iPad technology to enhance students’ learning in science.

As part of the classes’ study of air, water and soil, I led a discussion with the students about the four main components of soil – air, water, organic matter and inorganic matter. The students were able to give example of what they might find in the soil outside that is organic and inorganic. Then, we went outside and collected a soil sample from the school’s garden plot. The students had great fun digging in the soil, trying to find some interesting specimens to add to their sample.

DSC_0424 DSC_0423

DSC_0417

DSC_0398

Upon return to the classrooms, the students looked closely at their soil samples, using magnifying glasses and loupes and using the zoom feature of the iPad camera.

DSC_0426 DSC_0425

DSC_0422 DSC_0421

DSC_0402

DSC_0404

The students took some really interesting photographs with the iPads.

photo 02 photo 03

The students used the app PicCollage to document their observations, including examples of both organic and inorganic matter.

DSC_0403

IMG_0911

C2DB732F-3B9ACA00-1-PicCollage B7bBD561-3B9ACA00-1-PicCollage A5D99343-3B9ACA00-1-PicCollage 7B9DA44D-3B9ACA00-1-PicCollage 1B695C0b-3B9ACA00-1-PicCollage

Pairs of students that were finished their PicCollage page then used the ShowMe app to explain the difference between organic and inorganic matter.

DSC_0408

 

DSC_0407

We are hoping to add a new app or two to the schools’ iPads in May so that we can add one more app to the students’ repertoire of apps they can use to document their learning.

~Janice