Madly Learning


The Making of a Rock Cycle Video

In my classroom right now my grade 4s are learning about Rocks and Minerals.  I have tried to focus more this year on using experiments and inquiry in my units.  I have taught the rock cycle before but it has always fallen flat.  This component of the Rocks and Minerals unit needs to be taught in a more engaging way.  So in doing research for my TPT unit I cam across an activity that uses crayons melted over hot water.

On Monday I knew that I wanted to do this with my class but as usual I wanted to try it out first at home just to make sure that it worked well.  Students are rarely good when an experiment doesn't work out the way you need it too.  So to prepare I stole some crayons from the little ones craft cupboard, ruined a cheese grater, and began to prepare the materials for my at home practice experiment.

But then I had an idea.....

A few days before a student showed me a video he had made of him drawing a picture with his iPod touch.  He had used the time lapse feature in the photos app to film himself.  It was great! So sitting in my kitchen I thought that filming this experiment of the Rock Cycle would be a great opportunity to try filming with Time Lapse Video.  However of course I could just simply film the experiment I was inspired so I decided to write a story about the rock cycle to go with the experiment so that I could use it to help reinforce the concept of the Rock Cycle in a memorable way.  So my Video was born.  Check it out below, then keep reading and I will tell how I made it.

Writing The Story
Once I was inspired to add a story to the video I needed to plan it out and think it through.  So I wrote it out a rough draft of the story.  Once this was done I made sure that my draft was off to the side when I was writing live on the video so that I reduced the amount of mistakes that I made when writing.  Writing out the story as I video taped was nerve wracking but very easy.  The time lapse feature makes is look very cool on playback.

Steps in the Experiment
Each step of the experiment was a different video clip.  I filmed these one at time.  This was imperative that did this correctly because I didn't have additional crayons so I needed to make sure that although I could rewrite the script I couldn't redo the experiment portion.  I rehearsed it then filmed it.  I put my phone in the kitchen cupboard above my counter and turned on the under cabinet lights to reduce the shadows.

Putting it All Together
This was actually the easiest part.  I used iMovie and this app is so user friendly to create a stunning video.  I simply selected each video in order, zoomed and flipped the original videos so they were how I wanted them to look.  I cut and clipped each video to make them fit together and transition nicely.  To zoom in to certain parts and focus on the writing I duplicated the same video and then zoomed into the bowl so that you could see the crayons melting into an igneous rock.

Finally I switched to KeyNote and made my opening and closing slides then opened the slides to see them full screen and screen captured them.  I added the new photos to my video and recorded my voice over the final image so that it would direct people back to by blog here or to my TPT product.

In the Classroom...

My students loved the video and it helped to consolidate their learning and review the steps that I had just demonstrated to them in class.  They were also very inspired to go out and try to create their own videos about things.  I am sure that I will have a lot of time lapse videos in my future.

If you would like to check out my Rocks and Minerals TPT Unit see it here. 

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Social Studies Through Inquiry: Two new Units

My Social Studies through inquiry units are now out and ready to download.  

Heritage and Identity: Early Societies from 500BC to 1500BCE
Heritage and Identity: First Nations and Early Europeans

Click on the pictures below to link to my TPT store to download your copy.  

To celebrate I am giving away a copy of my 4/5 unit.  
Please enter the contest at the end of the post.   

Again I have created a A Grade 4 unit.  

A Grade 5 unit

And a Combined 4/5 Unit.

Enter my Contest Here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Inquiry: 6 Tips to Asking Questions

Being able to ask good questions is an important part of the inquiry process.  However it is often difficult task for students to ask the type of questions that lead to authentic inquiry.  When given a topic then asked to post questions students will often ask lower level thinking questions or questions that are unrelated to the theme they are studying.  Asking question this is a theme that my colleagues and I are exploring in more detail at my school. Through this focused exploration, and my experiences with my students struggling through generating inquiry questions I have come up with a tips that I wanted to share with you.  

All Questions are Important
Much of the focus on inquiry is on the higher order thinking questions from the Q chart.  However what I have learned is that all of the questions that the student can ask are important.  At the beginning of an inquiry project students may ask lower-level fact-finding questions these questions are important for students to ask and will form the basis of a student developing their understanding.  Eventually they will be able to ask higher order thinking questions.  What I found is it students have a difficult time asking higher order thinking questions when they don't have the necessary background knowledge needed to investigate deeper into their topic.  

Students may be able to ask the question but the may not be ready to find the answer. 
Some students who were given the formula to create a higher order thinking questions were able to do this successfully.  However what I have found is that just because they're able to ask the question doesn't mean they're ready to find the answer.  Being able to ask a good inquiry question does not mean the student is ready to find the answer to that same Big idea question.  First the student must understand the facts.  Getting them to ask WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN questions will help them to build the necessary background knowledge that they need to eventually be able to answer the inquiry question.  

Conference by asking questions of their questions. 
Some of the most viable conversations I had with my students were of me asking questions about their questions.  Through this process we were able to refine and evaluate the types of questions that they were asking in order to encourage them to dig a little deeper into their topics. Sometimes I found that through my questioning students discovered that they already knew the answers to the questions they needed to ask but through this conferencing process they themselves were able to discover this.  I believe this was much more valuable than if I had just given them the answer, or in this case the question.  

Questioning should be more than just one lesson
In social studies and science having the students ask questions should happen all throughout the unit not just the one lesson right before they begin their inquiry projects. Students should ask questions before the unit begins (provocation) this will help assist teachers to understand what they already know and where the students want to go.  Refining these questions throughout the teaching and learning process and asking new ones as we go along will help students to understand the topic of study in more depth. 

Key Words
Asking students to ask a question is a very general and open ended task.  I can't count how many times I have given students and overall topic and asked them to generate questions and then have been disappointed with the types of questions that I get.  Many of them are so off-topic, basic or lack variety that I struggle to move them towards higher order thinking questions with what they give me.  This time, before we asked questions, we generated a list of keywords.  I asked them "what have we been learning about?" The words they gave me made up the list of our keywords.  From there I asked students to make questions to put on an anchor sized Q chart that used our keywords. I was surprised at the difference of the type of question students were able to ask when given these parameters. 

Direct teaching still happens
Just because our focus is on student inquiry does not mean that direct teaching no longer happens in my classroom.  It does and it is important.  Skills such as summarizing need to be explicitly taught, developing an understanding of new vocabulary is necessary in order for students to understand the information that they will read.  Directly teaching my students about economic sectors was an important task that needed to be completed before students were able to complete an inquiry project looking at the environmental impacts of a primary sectors in Canada.  The economic sectors seem like such a complicated concept for grade 4 students to understand but in reality when it was taught to them directly they easily got the concept. They were the better prepared to choose an appropriate topic on the environment for inquiry that also met curriculum expectations.  

As I learn through implementing inquiry based learning into my own classroom I will continue to refine my understanding of how this process works.  Please join me on my continued journey at implementing inquiry into my classroom!

Do you have any great revelations about questioning in your classroom please share in the comments below


12 Days of Christmas Sale - 50% off

The holiday's are here and we are 12 days away from Christmas. I am so grateful to the support and love that I everyone has given me and my store.  Sharing my ideas with others has been very rewarding and knowing that others appreciate what I have been doing is very encouraging.

To celebrate this  I am celebrating with a 50% off sale.  Every day I will put a new product on sale for 50% off.  This is an amazing discount. The total cost of these 12 products is over $90 and you will get them each for half off.  I have even conveniently packaged these 12 products together for $45.

For the cost of my two combined social studies and science units you could get both units for each grade then get 8 more products for free.

Products Included in the Sale and Bundle

Dec 13 -   4/5 Long Range Plans

Dec 14 -   Daily Math Sheets for Addition and Subtraction

Dec 15 -   Balanced Literacy: Summary Unit 

Dec 16 -   Balanced Literacy: Main Idea Unit

Dec 17 -   How to Use Google Drive: Student Visual Instructions

Dec 18 -   Balanced Literacy: Questioning, Predicting, and Recount Bundle

Dec 19 -   Physical Regions of Canada Unit - With Inquiry Project

Dec 20 -   Rocks and Minerals - Interactive Notebook and Inquiry Research Project

Dec 21 -   Parent Communication Translator Cards

Dec 22 -   Conservation of Energy Science Unit - Interactive Notebook and Inquiry Research Project

Dec 23 -   Government of Canada - With Inquiry Project

Dec 24 -   Balanced Literacy Biography Unit

Enjoy, Thank you and Merry Christmas!!!

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Cyber Monday Sale

Today is the last day to get 20% off all the the products in my TPT store plus when you enter the code TPTCYBER tpt will take an additional 10% off. This is an amazing sale price that doesn't happen often.

But guess what...I am extending my sale until tomorrow December 3. So you cal still claim 20% off on my products. 

Get Your Planning Done for the New Year

Math: Need some virtually no prep daily math pages that will give your students some rich math tasks to work on everyday?  Or need a basis for your three part lesson?  My daily math packs will give you this. No more opening up all of those math resources in your classroom looking for rich math problems and practice questions you kids struggle through. I have 30+ questions for you to complete.  Even better the tasks are easily differentiated and help you meet the needs of students who require special education programming.  Designed to review previously taught concepts then move students through the fourth and fifth grade curriculum.

Language:  Get students ready to participate in a writers workshop in the new year.  Some years I have found students that are less engaged in writing tasks, the dreaded groan of disappointment when you announce what they will be writing.  My solution...let them choose what they write.  I start in September by looking at previous forms of writing that they should be familiar with like a friendly letter, or a story, or a recount.  I briefly share the success criteria for each of these form and put it up on my wheel of writing forms.  Students then choose what they want to write.  If  they want to write another form they just have to ask and I will give them the success criteria and have them write that form. (they may not get it correct but I applaud the creative attempt)  As the term goes on the students tell me what form they want to write that month.  I teach them using a balanced literacy approach and follow the gradual release of responsibility teaching method.  By Term two they have a variety of forms that I have taught them and they can now choose one of them to write weekly.

Social Studies and Science: These are the hardest subjects to teach especially if you are like me and are teaching a split grade.  Finding all of your resources, learning the curriculum, finding appropriate experiments while keeping kids engaged learning is difficult.  Not to mention that inquiry projects are the new norm and are expected to be implemented while many of us are still struggling with how to implement these types of projects in an authentic meaningful way to kids who are very unfamiliar with this type of learning.  Let's be honest it is a shift for everyone.  I have designed my Inquiry projects to meet these needs.  Each unit has a variety of activities that will keep kids engaged in their learning while giving you plenty of opportunities for assessment.  Better still I have designed step by step inquiry booklets that will help guide you and your students through the unfamiliar inquiry process.

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