Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Class Auction

Student-Centered Learning

Teachers encourage student-centered learning by allowing students to share in decisions, believing in their capacity to lead, and remembering how it feels to learn. Student-centered activities include students in planning, implementation, and assessments. Involving the learners in these decisions will place more ownership on them, which is a good thing. Teachers must change their leadership style from directive to consultative -- from "Do as I say" to "Based on your needs, let's co-develop and implement a plan of action.

While reading the novel, Vincent Shadow, Toy Inventor, which contained a chapter about an auction, my students developed an intense interest in the auction process. We never finished the chapter that day because we ended up having a 40-minute discussion about the in and outs of auctions. One of my students suggested we hold an auction in our classroom and a brilliant learning experience was spawned, entirely student driven.

I spent that evening gathering toys that my own child was willing to donate to a good cause. Some of my students brought items from home that they were excited to auction off as well.

We started with 477 gold coins. We solved the necessary math equations to figure out how to evenly divide those coins among 9 students. Each student began with 53 coins. Each student made a paddle to use while bidding on items. 


We watched a YouTube video about an 11-year-old cattle auctioneer. We practiced our skills and then each student had multiple opportunities to act as the auctioneer.

One of my students declared, "This is the best day of school I have ever had!" Another bemoaned, "I don't want to have a 4 day weekend, I will miss school too much!" Students bid on items and then gave them to other classmates when they won. They bid on items to take home to other family members. It became less about the material objects they were bidding on and more about the process. They were excited and engaged.

Placing students at the center of their own learning requires their collaboration. They need a voice in why, what, and how learning experiences take shape. Why is about relevance. Learners need to understand the value of the subject, vocabulary, and skills before they are willing to invest effort. What involves students choosing the focus of content. Let their interests drive the content that teaches skills and concepts. How depends on the different ways that students process understanding.

Give students the chance to take charge of activities, even when they might not quite have all the content skills. Students are accomplished education consumers. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Illuminated Manuscript

As a culminating  project for our integrated studies unit on the Middle Ages, the second graders wrote research papers on a related topic of their choosing. Their finished papers were published in a class illuminated manuscript.

Becoming published authors is an educational adventure unlike any other. It builds students' confidence by signaling to them that they and their work are worth sharing and celebrating with others. It's a reward for their hard work, but also an acknowledgement that they made something new, incredible and worthwhile. They aren't just members of the audience anymore – they're creators, capable of doing anything they put their minds to. We shared our published work with the first grade class via Zoom.

Being able to hold their finished classbook in their hands and, better yet, hand it over to someone else to read and enjoy is a thrilling experience. It makes them feel recognized as authors and as capable people, not just kids – both by their peers and by their teachers and parents.

Castle Tour

The Dragon Crafter's Castle Tour

        As part of our integrated studies unit on the Middle Ages, the second graders built a life sized cardboard castle out of recycled materials. They used all the information they learned about the various parts of a castle to build and decorate our class castle. The results were spectacular and we all had a wonderful experience throughout the building process. Please enjoy the video we created to share our castle creation with others.


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

What is MakerSpace, anyway?


MakerSpace is a place where children explore, create new things, or improve things that already exist. These spaces foster open-ended learning. Children naturally tinker; they build things and take things apart – especially when they're allowed the freedom to work without direction. MakerSpaces encourage natural creativity.

Students practice critical thinking skills, challenge their imaginations, and come up with solutions to real-world problems.

MakerSpaces are really helpful for STEAM related activities. They are also safe places for students to fail. Students learn by trial and error, improving with each attempt.

At the core of a MakerSpace is the maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests. 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Integrated Studies

In today's global economy, centered on the development and exchange of knowledge and information, successful people are fluent in several disciplines and comfortable moving among them. Creativity, adaptability, critical thinking and collaboration are highly sought after skills. Integrated studies helps to develop those skills in the classroom. 

Integrated Studies allows students to develop a meaningful understanding of the complex associations and influences within a topic.

The second graders are immersed in an integrated studies unit on the Middle Ages.

We used a backdrop of The Middle Ages to create our classroom Code of Chivalry. We practiced our cursive handwriting skills by signing the code with a real quill pen and ink.

We continued our exploration of knighthood by reading a variety of books centered around knights. We researched coat of arms and each student created their own heraldic achievement, which consists of a shield, supporters, a crest, and a motto. 

When the project was complete we had an accolade, which is a ceremony to confer knighthood.

One of our classmates extended the lesson, by bringing her family's coat of arms from home to share with the class.

We learned about the Feudal System and then took part in a visual/kinesthetic experience, where each student was assigned a particular role in the system (Queen, noble, vassal or peasant). Each student began with 10 gold coins. Each peasant gave the vassals 6 coins for the protection of their crops. From each peasant's payment, the vassal kept one piece and gave 5 to his lord, the noble. From each vassal's payment of fidelity, or loyalty, the noble kept 2 pieces and gave three to the queen. In the end, the peasants had 4 coins; the vassals, 12; the nobles, 22; and the queen, a whopping 46. As you can imagine, the peasants were not happy! We had a great discussion on the fairness of this system.

We used our newfound knowledge to create a Feudal System pyramid with a partner.

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities enrich student learning by providing learners with different ways to engage with concepts. The second graders worked on the Tall Tower challenge. They used paper tubes and 2 feet of masking tape to make the tallest free-standing tower that they could.

We extended our discussion of the Feudal System by reading the poem: 
The Four Alls:
The peasant who worked for all
The knights who fought for all
The priests who prayed for all
The king who ruled all

Each student selected one of the "alls" and created a diorama to depict the life of that group.

Our exploration of the Middle Ages continues. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog showcasing the building of our Classroom Cardboard Castle!

Class Auction

Student-Centered Learning Teachers encourage student-centered learning by allowing students to share in decisions, believing in their capaci...