Bentley Bear’s Adventures

KC have a class teddy bear named Bentley. Every weekend Bentley goes home with a different student and has adventure all weekend. So far this year Bentley seems to be going to a birthday party every weekend!

A few weeks ago Bentley went to David’s piano lesson. He was really impressed with what a wonderful musician David is.

See for yourself!

Video from wahroonga public school on Vimeo.

 

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Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

We read the book Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd. We loved all the funny names of Hairy Maclary’s friends. We made an artwork, did some writing which we published in our ICT time. Some our our artworks are now hanging in the classroom and some are hanging in the school library. There are lots of Hairy Maclary and Friends books. You can check out more about Hairy Maclary and Friends at this website.

Hairy Maclary.jpg

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Steampunks 2016 Marshmallow Challenge

STEAMpunk scientists

Last night I was lucky enough to present a workshop at STEAMpunks 2016. It was called Publish, Reflect and Connect- How to get started in Kindergarten Engineering. The STEAMpunks Conference was hosted by our school and involved a whole day of students, teachers and parents exploring the world of STEAM. Amanda Fox (@AmandFoxSTEM on Twitter) from the STEM Academy School in Savannah, Georgia, shared her school’s journey. She encouraged us to #FailUp- when a prototype doesn’t work rethink and redesign and have another go.

My workshop was all about using an Engineering activity- The Marshmallow Challenge to kick off a STEAM unit and to give teachers an opportunity to publish, reflect and connect to help them explore the world outside their classroom and to collaborate with other teachers around the globe.

Engineering is fun and engineering is hands-on so we spent 18 minutes of the workshop doing the marshmallow challenge. Here are some photos of what we came up with.

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The buzz in the classroom was fantastic. Everyone was contributing, taking photos, sharing ideas, testing designs out and trying to build a tower for their marshmallow. After the challenge we reflected on what we had just learnt and how they had to rethink some misconceptions they might have had.

It was wonderful to share the time with amazing teachers all at different points on their STEAM journey. I enjoyed showing them what I have been doing with my class and challenging them to give it a go. Using Twitter and WordPress to Publish, Reflect and Connect helps me to challenge myself in my own classroom. When things are being created to share with an audience they have to be authentic. We have to put the effort in. Collaborating, sharing our ideas and receiving feedback helps us grow. It helps my students to connect with the world outside our school and our suburb and it helps me challenge myself to teach authentically.

Connecting and Collaborating with other teachers, parents and classes helps us enormously. I am preparing my students to be citizens of the world which means that we have to be learning about the world and in the world. STEAMpunks 2016 was exciting, it was authentic and it challenged me to reflect on what I am doing everyday. It helped me to realise (all over again) that I love my job. I look forward to continuing this journey – STEAMing ahead of course!

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The Running Man Challenge

A few weeks ago KCD set us a challenge- to complete the Running Man Challenge. Here is their effort which we thought was fabulous. 2HP have done it as well. Today we finally had time to have a turn ourselves. It was so much fun we think other classes should have a go too.

KC Running Man Challenge from wahroonga public school on Vimeo.

Challenge Accepted.

 

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Kindergarten Marshmallow Challenge

This term all of Kindergarten have done the Marshmallow Challenge. The first time I did it was with KC. You can read about what KC found out and what I found out here.

I also helped out the other Kindergarten teachers to have a go at the Marshmallow Challenge.

Here are some photos of what it looked like.

It was exciting to watch the teamwork and the ideas buzzing around every classroom.

KCD Marshmallow Challenge from wahroonga public school on Vimeo.

teamwork from wahroonga public school on Vimeo.

 

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The Marshmallow Challenge

Here is the challenge…
IMG_6692

Take:

20 sticks of spaghetti

1 metre of tape

1 metre of string

1 marshmallow

In a group of 4 people you have 18 minutes to make the tallest freestanding structure you can. The marshmallow needs to be on the top of the tower.

You can read more about it here.

We decided to have a go.

We are Scientists,

we are Technology experts,

we are Engineers,

we are Artists and

we are Mathematicians.

Before we started we talked about it. We thought it would be easy. We thought we would make really tall towers. We had lots of ideas.

We set the timer for 18 minutes. It was up on the Whiteboard so everyone could see. We got into groups of 4. We checked that we had everything we needed. We knew what we were going to do. We knew that we were going to work as a team to build a tower. We had our cameras ready to take photos or videos of each other. We were ready!

What was KC expecting?

KC were very excited by the prospect of a challenge. We loved the idea of trying to build a tower and we thought it was going to be really easy to build an amazing structure. The students knew that they would need to work together as a team in order to come up with a solution. They were ready with their cameras to record the process.

What was I expecting?

I knew that the marshmallow challenge would be exciting. I knew that my students would have lots of ideas that they wanted to test out. They love sharing their ideas during class discussions and we spend time listening to each others ideas everyday. I was hoping that they would be working together as a team to share their ideas and use the time effectively. I knew that underestimating my class would be a mistake. I was looking forward to seeing what they came up with. We spend a lot of time in KC recording our learning with the cameras so I knew my #studentphotographers would take some great photos. I was interested in hearing their ideas and seeing their teamwork.

Here are some photos of what happened.

 

What did KC learn from doing the Marshmallow Challenge?

At the end of the challenge we did not have any towers that were standing up. We had ideas that we found tricky to put into practice. We found out that spaghetti is brittle and therefore it is not the ideal building material. We found out that working as a team is harder than we thought. We have to listen to each others ideas and give them a go. Some teams did this really well. Other teams forgot that they were building one tower all together and tried to make four towers. We found out that 18 minutes is quite a bit of time but we also found out that sometimes having the time tick away on the countdown timer is distracting for what we are trying to do. We found out that trying to make a tower out of spaghetti, tape and string is lots of fun even if we don’t end up with a free-standing tower.

 

KC Marshmallow Challenge Teamwork from wahroonga public school on Vimeo.

 

What did I learn from KC doing the Marshmallow Challenge?

During the challenge I saw lots of things happening. I saw conversations going on between students who wanted to test out an idea. I saw my students persevering even when their first idea didn’t work. I saw some students get distracted by the camera or the timer or the marshmallow and forget about the tower. I saw a few students find out that breaking spaghetti into tiny pieces is really fun but in the end you are left with a pile of spaghetti. I saw students who took great photos and videos. There was a buzz of activity in the classroom that you only get when students are on task and engaged. I saw leaders stand up and demand attention from their teammates as they took charge and started building.

What was tricky?

The number one thing we found tricky was working with the spaghetti. We found that when you tried to use it and connect it together it sometimes broke. We had great ideas about making the tower really tall by taping bits of spaghetti together but getting it to stand up was really hard. Some groups also found it tricky to work together and listen to each others ideas. We need to practise that so that we get better at it. 

What misconceptions did I have that I needed to reconsider? 

Before starting this engineering challenge I had an assumption that it could be difficult for my Kindergarten students to understand what they needed to do. What I found is that it was engaging and exciting for the whole class.

I underestimated in my own mind who would be the most engaged students. My class are all working hard with their reading and writing, and just like in any class there is a range of abilities and progress. What I observed was that the students that I thought would take the lead and guide the discussion were not the ones who did. Those who need lots of support to write down their ideas every other day had lots of ideas to share and listened to each other. The creativity, discussion and teamwork that I saw came from students with a wide range of writing and reading ability. This was not a written challenge so it did not hold them back. It was a reminder to me to keep giving my students lots of different ways to express and explore their ideas as they continue to build their writing and reading skills.

Giving students a real problem to solve and some tools to get creative was incredibly rewarding. My class did not end the challenge with any free-standing towers but they did end the challenge with excitement and ideas and a sense of accomplishment because they had a go.

The end product of this challenge is not the tower. It is the persistence, the testing, the teamwork and the creativity.  Building my students up to be creative thinkers, testers and communicators  will help them learn. It will help them to fail and then modify until they find a solution they are happy with. It will help them become the Scientists, the Technology Experts, the Engineers, the Artists (Designers) and the Mathematicians of our world.

The challenge I have now set for myself is to give them more opportunities to design, build and communicate their ideas and work together to build on each others’ ideas. 

I repeated this challenge with the other classes in Kindergarten at my school. Stay tuned for my next post.

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Our Excursion to the Farm

We had lots of fun at Calmsley Hill Farm yesterday. Here are some photos. Stay tuned to hear what we thought of our very first excursion.

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Can Animals Talk?

This term we have been reading Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte's Web

It is a story all about a girl named Fern, a pig named Wilbur, Charlotte the spider and lots of other farm animals. Fern goes to visit the farm almost everyday and she is great friends with all the animals. Today we got up to a section where Fern is talking to her Mum and Dad and they can’t believe that Fern can talk to the animals in the farmyard. They are really worried about Fern and think she might be going crazy. We decided to try to work out what we think. Can animals talk?

KC Can Animals Talk? from wahroonga public school on Vimeo.

 

We are very proud to say that all the videoing today was done by a few different student photographers. We are practising holding the camera really still and making sure the person is on the screen. We are getting better but we are looking forward to having another go soon. We know that every time we practise we get a little bit better.

What do you think? Leave us a comment.

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Adding Numbers with Dominoes

Dominoes are a really fun thing to use to practise adding numbers together. This week we found dominoes that matched a number. Some numbers have lots of different combinations and so there were lots of different dominoes to find. We are also practising starting from the biggest number and then counting on to find how many dots there are altogether.

When we had found all our dominoes we took photos of them.

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Happy Mother’s Day Mums

We hope you are having a special Mother’s Day. We hope you like the cards we made and the video. Don’t forget to leave us a comment.

Mother’s Day 2016 from Ruth Carlos on Vimeo.

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