primary teachers study group: session two

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by jnovakowski

Our second session began with some sharing. Gillian Partridge shared a project she did with her grades 2&3 students, inspired by the Mix It Up book. The painting on the left is an abstract representation of salad and the one on the right used mixing of colours (focusing on prairie colours as the class is studying Canada) and creating circles and understanding fractions.


Margaret Choinski shared how she used the book What Do You Do With An Idea? to inspire students to create building plans during their study of structures. She has a parent visit the class who is an architect and he explained that the architect is the “idea person” being buildings which was a great connection to the book and the process of creating.

magnificent thingOur new picture book was introduced – The Most Magnificent Thing by local author Ashley Spires. I shared how I used this book with two primary classes at Lee.

We talked about the great messages around habits of mind and dispositions that are highlighted in this story – perseverance, determination, trying something another way, seeing things from different perspectives.

As a science focus for our district this year is Creativity and Innovation, we are very happy that Destination Imagination has donated two copies of this year’s project guide to each of our schools. Even if schools don’t choose to enter into DI’s competitions, the manuals have a wealth of great ideas, including instant challenges, to develop creative thinking in the classroom. We tried out a series of mini-challenges from the book. Each challenge had a specific set of materials to go with it.

#1: Create a device that will move the egg across the table without any team members directly touching the egg.

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#2: Build a bridge between two chairs that will support the weight of the egg.

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#3: Build a tower that will raise the egg above the table as high as possible.

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#4: Tell the life story of the egg non-verbally using gestures, words or drawings.



Each challenge had the constraint of time – 4 minutes. We talked about how that has its pros and cons but creates an urgency that some students need. We also discussed how some students would love the challenge and problem-solving of the building challenges while others would flourish in the final storytelling challenge. We always need to be thinking of creating opportunities for all of our students to shine and be successful.

We also looked at the draft information for the Critical Thinking Competency. Richmond has a long history with critical thinking so for the teachers in our group, the description of critical thinking was not really new information but the idea of the profiles of students will be a new way to assess students’ competency in this area.

IMG_0660We shared some of the resources from the Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2) which has been creating resources for teachers for years.


Thank you to the Blair team for hosting us!


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