“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Loved that Lesson: Technology Edition Geometer's Sketchpad

Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift
Meg over at the The Teacher Studio is hosting her Loved that Lesson Linky again!  Be sure to click on the image above to find out what some other amazing teacher bloggers have been up to.


Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift Geometer's Sketchpad

As most of you know, I teach gifted students in an elementary classroom.  These students bring a range of strengths and abilities to the classroom each day.  It is my job to keep them engaged and learning in ways which meet their unique strengths and needs. About 8 years I was looking for new and interesting ways to integrate technology into the classroom experiences of my students. I had been out of the classroom for over a decade working as an elementary science and technology consultant, so I called on a friend who worked in the math department to get some ideas. Caroline suggested I try the dynamic computer software "The Geometer's Sketchpad" with my students.  
I was eager to get started but first I had to have our IT dept. remote install the software on all the computers in our school.  Once this was done, we were ready to go!  Caroline came to my school and showed my students and myself the essentials of Sketchpad and we were all hooked.

Here is a simple 5 minute video that shows a little bit about the tools in GSP. 




My students were hooked, and I have used GSP ever since to teach the majority of my geometry curriculum in both grades 5 and 6. 

This year I wanted to do something a little different.  We had covered all of the basic shapes, points, lines and angles as well as triangles.  I was flipping through my math curriculum document to see what still had to be covered in geometry and realized that students needed to be able to construct nets from three dimensional shapes and they also needed to be able to recognize three dimensional shapes from nets they are shown.  My brain got to thinking about having the students use Geometer's Sketchpad to create the nets, and use it's unique ability to animate sketches to have the students transform the nets into their three dimensional counterparts.


Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift Geometer's Sketchpad

Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift Geometer's Sketchpad

Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift Geometer's Sketchpad

I asked all the students to start with a prism or pyramid (as per the curriculum for this grade level).  I gave them some tutorial material on how to animate shapes and set them off on the challenge.  I have to say I was AMAZED that 90% of my fifth graders had created an animated square based pyramid or tetrahedron within a one hour period on the computers.  

In between our first and second visit to work on the animated nets, I realized that students also needed to be able to find the volume of prisms.  As I had already taught my students how to find AREA of shapes using GSP, I decided to see how they would do with finding the VOLUME of a square or rectangular prism (again this expectation came directly from the curriculum).


Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift Geometer's Sketchpad

Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift Geometer's Sketchpad

Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift Geometer's Sketchpad

I challenged the students to create a square or rectangular prism for their second animated net, and then increased the challenge by asking them to find the volume of their shape in TWO ways. Geometer's Sketchpad will allow students to select a shape and "measure" the area, volume, length, angle, etc.  I like to have students use a traditional algorithm as well so that they can see the two measurements must match, therefore their calculations are correct.

It was great to see the students working diligently at creating their shapes, nets, and calculating volume.  All of the students were able to create the shapes, animate them and discover something about their measurements.  Some students needed more coaching than others, some needed more time, and some needed the ability to work with a peer, but everyone met with success.  Their next challenge will be to find the surface area of all of their shapes!

I love when I can turn a lesson that could be dry and theoretical into something hands on and engaging for ALL my students.  If you have never tried Geometer's Sketchpad you can download and experiment yourself for free.  There are tons of online tutorials and lots of pre made curriculum materials and student activities.  Once you start using it with your students, you'll all be hooked.


Just click on the icon above to visit the Key Curriculum Website for a free trial and more information.  In my school board, GSP is licensed by the board and all schools have access to it at home and school for FREE.
Check with your IT dept. to find out if your district has licensing.


Loved that Lesson @Teachingisagift Geometer's Sketchpad
For Getting Started Tutorials click on the image above to go to the Sketchpad Learning Center.



Sunday, 30 November 2014

What's better than Black Friday? Cyber Monday!


Tomorrow is Cyber Monday at Teachers Pay Teachers and the deals are going to be awesome!  You get 28% off when you use code TPTCYBER!  Empty out that wish list...treat yourself to all those awesome products you know you are going to need and use after the holidays!

If you haven't grabbed it yet, now is a great time to get your copy of my Math and Science Chat bundle. Two great products bundled together to save you time and money!  Using Math and Science Chat speech bubbles can get your hesitant students talking about what they are learning in math. Using communication in the classroom to represent, explain, justify, agree, and disagree affects the way students learn mathematics. Math and Science Chat engages students, encourages them to learn more, and allows for the exploration of ideas, strategies, procedures, facts, and more.
Encouraging the development and exchange of ideas, Math and Science Chat helps to support a social learning environment for students, creating a community which fosters encouragement, respect, and the exchange of ideas.



   

You can also grab the original Math Chat bundle on sale too!  This is one of my best selling products!


Looking for resources for teaching about the Human Body?  I have created some new products that you can use with any grade studying human organ systems.  



Ready to add some "buzz" to your Electricity unit?  This project was created as a culminating assessment and evaluation task which aligns with the expectations in the Ontario Curriculum.  Students will design and create a three dimensional model of an arcade game which includes working circuits, lights, and/or bells and buzzers. This package includes several pages of science and technology terminology/vocabulary word wall cards which can be printed on cardstock, laminated and posted in the classroom. Also, included are fully editable copies of extra word wall cards. The word wall cards can be used to introduce and teach the science and technology terminology. Refer to them frequently throughout the teaching of your own classroom electricity unit. 
Hope everyone is looking forward to the upcoming holidays...I know I am!  The TpT Cyber sale is a great way to get your planning for the New Year underway!  

Don't forget to use code TPTCYBER at checkout!



Sunday, 9 November 2014

Loved that lesson! Technology Edition.


My friend Meg over at The Teacher Studio hosts this awesome linky each month.  I always find such amazing ideas from other fantastic teacher bloggers.  This month I decided to do a bit of a throw back and write about a lesson from last year. (You can read more about how I used the novel Wonder HERE.)  I love the novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Last year I wrote a blog post about all the fantastic things we did before, during and after reading the novel.  One of my favourite projects was making "Character Trait Images" using Tagxedo.

Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca


You've never heard of Tagxedo?  I love this program.  It allows you to make sophisticated word clouds via the Internet.  Using Tagxedo is super easy.  Want something to use with your students?  You can find an easy to follow tutorial in PDF HERE.

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Go to the Tagxedo homepage and click on CREATE.

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

You will see a page that looks like the one above.

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Click on LOAD. Here you (or your students) will add text.  For our Wonder assignment, the students brainstormed character traits about each of the characters in the novel.  

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Next, click on SHAPE. You can choose from a variety of shapes which are pre-made OR you can click on ADD IMAGE.  This is how my students were able to create the Character Trait images from the novel.  The students created sketches of the characters from the novel.  I uploaded them to a site on our school server so the students could access them easily.  They were able to upload the images to Tagxedo and create custom word clouds.

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Finally you can change aspects of your image by clicking on color, theme, font, orientation, or layout.  Students were encouraged to experiment and choose designs they found visually appealing.  

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Next you can save your images as JPGs or PNGs.  I had the students create a folder and download all of their individual images. I then taught them how to use the on line photo editor Picasa.
We downloaded the program to our computers at school and showed students how to create collages using their Tagxedo images.

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo and Picasa @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Below you can see some finished student work.  I was really proud of how well my students persevered to complete this assignment.  I think their Tagxedo collages turned out brilliantly don't you?

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca


Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Creating a Wonder Character Trait Image using Tagxedo @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

If you are reading the novel Wonder with your class, or if you would just like a great FREEBIE...click on the image below to download the bookmark I made for my students.  I printed them on card stock, cut them out and laminated them.  I love the sentiment expressed by R.J. Palacio...imagine what the world would be like if we all "choose kind".
FREE Wonder Bookmark from http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Thanks for reading.  Feel free to message me if you have any questions about how we completed this project. 



Sunday, 12 October 2014

Loved that Lesson Linky

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO CHECK OUT LOTS OF OTHER GREAT IDEAS
SHARED BY SOME AWESOME TEACHER BLOGGERS

School has been back for six weeks and it has been a whirlwind!  Getting to know my fantastic fifth graders has been fun and interesting.  We have accomplished a LOT in a short amount of time and I know this class is destined for great things this year!  I switched grades from sixth to fifth and I am loving the change in curriculum.  It is a lot of work to find new and engaging activities but I love it when I find things which are new and fantastic.

One of my favourite units when I taught fifth grade a million years ago was called "Mystery Powders" and it involved the exploration of properties of matter.  Fast forward to 2014 and the unit in fifth is called Properties and Characteristics of Matter.  I love hands on investigations and so do my students.  There is something about collecting all the materials and setting up stations for the students to explore that make me wish I was in fifth grade again myself!  We started our unit with a fantastic set of stations from The Science Penguin.  
Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Making a density column using kitchen materials

Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Analyzing some data and writing explanations


Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Matching pictures with definitions

Pictures of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Reading and recording what we have learned.

Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Checking out Study Jams from Scholastic.

To help control the flow of the stations I assigned the students the iMatter project from The Science Penguin as well.  If they finished a station before the rest of the class they were able to work independently on the project, which they have put into their science notebooks.

Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

As part of the unit, we were fortunate to have Scientist Sophia from Scientists in School come into the classroom and conduct a variety of hands-on investigations which I would not be able to do with the students myself.  Scientists in School bill themselves as Canada's leading science education charity for kids.  

"Founded in 1989, Scientists in School (SiS) is a dynamic Canadian charity dedicated to helping Kindergarten to Grade 8 students to become 'scientists in their school', catalyzing long-lasting interest in science, technology, math, environmental stewardship and engineering and potentially encouraging future careers in science-related fields.  Our investigative workshops give young scientists the opportunity to interact with ecologists, physicists, engineers and more, and help make even the most reluctant learner enthusiastic. Our goal is for every Canadian child to have multiple opportunities to be sparked by science during their formative elementary school years. Annually, more than 630,000 children and youth in more than 23,000 English and French-speaking classrooms in 290 communities across Ontario and Southern Alberta experience a half-day SiS workshop each year. In the last 25 years, over six million children and youth have become scientists in their schools. Today, they're Scientists in School. Tomorrow, they're our leaders and innovators."

Scientist Sophia came to school early and set up a variety of exciting, hands-on activities for the students to explore.  She gave an excellent introduction which reviewed the vocabulary and essential terms for the unit.  She also explained in detail what the students would be doing step by step during each investigation. During the remaining half- day workshop students explored solids, liquids, gases and changes in state while playing the role of detectives seeking clues to the mysteries of matter.  For their first investigation, my class was challenged to discover the difference between physical and chemical changes by investigating whether all plastics are created equal.  Next, they participated in an evaporation race using mouthwash, water and baby oil and then they were invited to carry out some “cool “chemistry in a Ziploc bag which utilized acids and bases.  Students got to experience an exothermic reaction first hand.  Finally, they were tasked with finding the identity of a mystery compound using their prior knowledge, some further experimentation and clues gathered during this chemical adventure. Scientist Sophia was wonderful and she kept the students on task and thinking the entire afternoon.  I would highly recommend that all Ontario teachers book a Scientist in School presentation.  



Students testing a variety of "mystery powders" as the culminating investigation.

Picture of Hands On Properties and Characteristics of Matter at http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Picture of Hands On Properties and Characteristics of Matter at http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Student recording in the booklet provided by Scientists in School

Hands On Properties and Characteristics of Matter at http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

I know my post covers more than one lesson, but I just couldn't pick what I loved most the past few weeks.  The kids loved the stations, demonstrated understanding of concepts with the iMatter project, and put it all into action during our Scientists in School presentation.  I hope you got some great ideas you can use in your classroom, or you will book a Scientist in School to come and work with your students!

I am also linking up with Erin from Mrs. Beattie's Classroom for her Year of Awesome Linky.  Check out even more great ideas on her blog.