2nd Grade Continues to Work on Building

The 2nd graders continued to work on their Structures Centers from last week. The have all visited each center once – though most of the K’nex Bridges have not been completed.  I will give each group more time to finish their bridges next week.  We had some interesting and creative constructions at the Roominate station, including a bulldozer and a 4-decker bunk bed!

The students also did Problem Solving Centers today.  I introduced a new station on the iPads using an app called, “Groops.”  This is a great app for practicing visual thinking skills, and I was fortunate enough to download it on Friday – the one day it was free!  Though the app levels begin with “Easy Peasy,” the problems quickly got difficult, and I was proud by the  way the students at this center kept trying and did not give up.

2nd Grade Visits the Insect Expo

None of us knew what to expect at the Insect Expo today.  Some of the students told me later that they thought it would be more like a museum – with all of the bugs under glass.  That was certainly not our experience!

The Expo was in a huge room at the El Tropicano Hotel downtown, and sponsored by the Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). I’m not sure how many different stations there were – but after two hours we had not visited all of them!  Each station was interactive, and more than a few of them had real, live bugs that you could touch – or eat.

Yes, there was a bug-eating station.  I’m not sure what type of bugs they were, but they had been fried.  A few of the kids dared to try them, and reported that they did, indeed, taste like french fries.  Adventurous tasters also got to try different types of honey: raw, bee, and clover.  There did not seem to be a consensus on which tasted best!

The Insect Petting Zoo was fascinating.  We loved the huge green walking stick, whose body was shaped like a leaf.  There were lots of cockroaches and beetles willing to be touched, too.

There were all kinds of art projects – such as making your own set of antennae and creating water bugs that you could test.  If you weren’t feeling very creative, you could try “Maggot Art” by putting some drops of paint on a piece of paper and plopping some maggots in the paint.  As they crawled around, they made their own insect masterpieces.

The cockroach races were very popular, and the beekeeper was apparently quite engaging (our group did not get a chance to see him).  The students also got to make their own “bug suckers” for collecting bugs like real entomologists.

Many of the photographs below were taken by the students, themselves, at the Expo!

2nd Grade Builds Bridges

Last week, the 2nd graders researched different types of bridges, and were presented with a challenge to design a bridge out of straws and masking tape that would span 25 cm, and hold as much weight as possible. This week, they got to build their designs and test them.  The strongest bridge appeared to be the beam bridge (which had originally been designed as an arch, but ended up being revised during construction). The beam bridge held over 1000 grams of weight.

The students took turns building, photographing, supervising, and testing.  I have posted some of their pictures below.  They did a great job synergizing, and I love how every bridge was very different!

In addition to learning some bridge construction skills, they also learned how to add their iPad photos to Dropbox.  I’m happy to say that all of the photos below were taken by the 2nd graders.  (Maybe I’m out of the job as class photographer, now!)

2nd Grade Does Research for Great Bridge Challenge

We reviewed the materials and forces that can effect the strength of a structure, which the students researched last week.  Today, they were presented with a challenge – to create a bridge using nothing but 20 straws and some masking tape.  The bridge needs to span 25 centimeters between and we will see whose bridge will hold the most pennies.  The students had to research what type of bridge they plan to build and sketch it today.  They will make their attempts next week.  Two groups decided that arch bridges would be the best.  One group is going to do a suspension bridge, and one is doing a beam bridge.  The students also watched a video from Kid President about being inventive – and being prepared to fail sometimes.

After planning out the bridges and doing some bridge “challenges” on the interactive board, the students did centers.  They are now keeping track of their centers using the iPads and Google Spreadsheets.  They can choose their centers, but cannot repeat a center.  No more than 3 students can be at a center.  There was some great synergy going on at the Chocolate Fix and Math Logic centers!  And I posted a few pictures below of some Valentine S.C.A.M.P.E.R. projects where the students had to “Put it to Another Use” with a heart shape.

2nd Grade Learns About Forces, Loads, and Materials

When the students worked on building structures with straws last week, they learned that the best shape to support a structure is the triangle.  This week, they learned about other factors that can influence the strength of a structures, such as the loads upon them, the forces acting on them, and the materials out of which they are made.

They used the Building Big site on the laptops to learn more about how each of these can have an impact. Then they identified vocabulary words to add to Haiku Deck presentations about Forces and Loads.  After presenting what they learned, the class participated in a “Space Race” quiz using the iPads.  In partners, they answered questions.  As they answered correctly, they could watch their spaceships cross the screen in the front of the room.  They did very well!

2nd grade also learned that they will be going on a field trip on February 24th to the Insect Expo downtown.  They will get an interactive tour of the Expo, and will be able to taste bee honey and participate in the live insect petting zoo.  Parents, please be sure to sign the permission slip, which I sent home today!

2nd Grade Builds with Straws

For this semester, 2nd grade is continuing with our unit on Structures, but we are moving into learning about man-made structures.  To introduce the unit, the students used straws and paperclips to build structures of their invention as an exploration.  Then, they were given the challenge to create a structure that would hold a folder on top without falling.  Several students were able to accomplish the challenge in various ways.  One element that was common in the stronger structures, though, was the use of triangles.  The students learned that this shape can withstand a lot more force than squares.

Speaking of challenges, we read a book called Rosie Revere, Engineer.  The little girl, Rosie, gives up inventing when she is laughed at.  But her aunt teaches her that the only way to fail is to quit.  This led into a discussion about mindsets, and we talked about Fixed and Growth mindsets.  There will be more conversations about this in the future.

The students also worked at Problem-Solving centers – completing Math Analogies and other challenges.


2nd Grade Gets an Intro. on Citing Sources

I realized that I had missed a very important step when the students did their animal adaptation research – citing their sources.  Today, I showed them how to find the citation information on the World Book Encyclopedia articles they used for their superhero projects.  They will be doing more research this year, so this is a skill they need.

Then they worked on creating superhero trading cards on their iPads to accompany the cartoons they made about animal adaptations.

We also passed out and discussed their GT report cards, which should be brought home today. Parents, please discuss the folder contents and the report card with your child, cut off the signature edge from the report cards, and return with the folders and signed sheet as soon as possible. Any papers in the pockets do not need to be returned.

The students did problem-solving centers today. They seemed to enjoy the Superhero Math (some of them chose division sheets this time!) and the Tangrams so much last week that I kept those stations in.  They also worked on Math Analogies and some mixed math skills.

2nd Grade Super Thinkers!

It was so great to come back from the break to a group of super-enthusiastic 2nd graders!  They all seemed well-rested and ready to get back to work.  That is great, because we have lots to do!

We are finishing up learning about animal structures, and each student is completing a cartoon about starring him or her self as a superhero with a particular animal’s adaptation. They are also making Trading Cards about their superheroes.

I wanted to get in some more problem-solving before GT report cards go out (next week), and found a neat activity online called, “Mystery Math Superheroes.”  The students had to solve some math equations to determine how to color in a grid.  If colored in correctly, they would reveal a superhero. What I liked about this activity was that the students could choose what level of math they wanted to tackle.  Several of them chose the multiplication.  Next week, I might throw in some division for the students that found the multiplication too easy!

In addition, the students got to do some visual thinking with a Tangrams app that our class is beta testing for a company called Tangible Play.  The company sent us a free stand for the iPad, plus tangram shapes, letters, and a special mirror that goes on the iPad camera.  When you set up the iPad on the stand, you can do the tangrams in front of it on the table, and the app lets you know if you have the shapes in the right place.  The students gave great feedback that I will share with the developers for improving the app.  What’s more important is that every pair of students seemed to  enjoy the challenge, and worked through the tough parts.  Great way to show perseverance!

2nd Grade Works on Holiday Centers

After the students finished working on rough drafts of their Superhero cartoons, I gave them the rest of the morning to choose from different centers.  There were a couple of sudoku options – one was using old-fashioned pencil and paper, and one was on our interactive white board.  They could also play a logic/visual thinking game called “Factory Balls-Christmas Edition” on the laptops. Holiday tangram puzzles were popular.  Another choice was to use the iPad programming app that they learned about last week, Hopscotch, to create a holiday scene.  And, lastly, the students could look at our green anole with a huge magnifying glass and some beautiful crystals (brought in by Anna) under the microscope.  I also offered some drawing activities but, strangely, no one gravitated toward those!

My goal was for the students to choose activities that were challenging for them, and I was glad to see many of the students really showing some perseverance on the more difficult puzzles.  The candle tangram was particularly hard, but no one gave up!  As far as I could tell, everyone who tried it finally figured out the solution.  There was also a lot of synergizing to be seen in the classroom.  The students were very helpful to each other as they worked out the Winter Sudoku puzzle on the interactive white board.  And, whenever a new batch of students tried out the laptop game, there were always some “veterans” willing to show them the ropes.  It was the perfect last class for 2013!

2nd Grade Discusses Adaptations

As part of our Structures unit, the 2nd graders talked more about animal adaptations today – specifically physical and behavioral.  I think there is still some confusion among some of them about what “behavioral adaptations” are, so you may want to talk about how some animals do things to protect themselves, find food, or attract other animals (an example would be birds that migrate for the winter).  We watched a short BrainPop video called, “Camouflage.”

They researched animals that they chose, took notes on their adaptations, and shared their information with the rest of the class.  One of the unique examples was the Puffer Fish!

After we read Imogene’s Antlers, they also used two of their Thinking Hats – Benefits and Judgement – to come up with the pros and cons of being a human who wakes up with those adaptations.  Next week, they will begin writing stories that build on that brainstorming.

In addition, the students did some problem solving with multiplication and division about a “Silly Zoo.”