27/06/2015

New Design...I'm in love!!

Well I finally decided that it was about time to get a professional redesign. So after much thought and research I asked Megan at A Bird In Hand Designs to design a kick ass look for my blog. 

She was so awesome to work with and was even able to get to my redesign early . So now my new blog design is ready as I prepare to go to the TPT conference in Vegas. 

Now I will work hard on rebranding all of my products in my TPT store so that everything coordinates together. 

I have now joined Instagram and will work on adding more pictures to my account. If you have pictures of my products in your classroom please feel free to share them with me. 

30/05/2015

Wow 500 Likes

Guess what!! I have finally reached 500 likes on my Facebook page.  This is quite the accomplishment for me.  This road I am travelling as a seller on TPT is a long one and I have been doing this for four years.  I couldn't have done this without the tremendous support and feedback given to me by my fellow canadian TPTers and my followers on my various social media platforms.

As a thank you I am hosting a HUGE giveaway starting Monday June 1, 2015.  Please enter to win one of three $10 TPT gift cards.


Good Luck and thank you again for all of your support!

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25/03/2015

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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15/02/2015

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
and
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

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