3rd Grade Starts Looking for “X”

photo-oct-18-1-15-02-pmThe 3rd graders began the first level of “Hands-on-Equations” today. This math unit introduces the students to algebra by using manipulatives.

They also worked on narrowing down their Genius Hour topic and creating a research question. They’ve decided to learn more about the Great Barrier Reef – how it’s changing, and the consequences if it dies.

We read Fish in a Tree, and worked on making connections to our personal lives and the real world.

3rd Grade Makes Magnificent Things!

In 3rd grade GT this week, we read the book, The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires.  It’s all about a girl who has a great idea for a project but it doesn’t turn out the way she planned at first.  She tries hard, but ends up getting very frustrated.  After taking a walk, she returns to the project with renewed energy and completes it.

The book ties in very well with the student Cardboard Challenge projects.  As they progress, they often find that what they envisioned isn’t quite what they are able to make.  But they are learning to adjust and change course if they need to!

The projects are almost complete.  We did some test runs this week, then talked about the improvements they would like to make.  Next week will be their final chance to make the games the best that they can be!

3rd Grade Presents Their Solutions for Cafeteria Behavior

Yesterday, the 3rd grade students presented their proposals for ways to help with noise and messiness in the cafeteria.  They based their ideas on research they had done, including interviews with principals from other schools (Mr. Gustafson and Mr. Gilpin).  Mrs. Jessop and our “Principal for the Day,” James Allen were the audience for the presentations.

Anna presented a board game that she made that could be played to reinforce cafeteria behavior.  She made one game set for each grade level that includes the directions and game cards.  Classes on the grade level could pass the game to each other when they are finished.

Roman created a video game using Gamestar Mechanic. It also reinforces cafeteria behavior with questions about appropriate ways to act when in the lunch room.  His vision is for the link to be available on the student shares drive, and students who have teacher permission can play the game when they come to the library.

Timothy and Katie were very motivated to use movies as an incentive for good behavior in the cafeteria.  They used an app called Touchcast, which allowed them to use a green screen and add some special effects – including a live, intereactive poll – into their video trying to persuade administrators to use this idea.  (We had a few issues with the app, as you can see from Timothy’s floating head in the photo below, but it finally worked out!) They were careful to look at the idea from many perspectives, and included these in their video.

As a class, the students also liked the idea of engaging student leaders to help out in the cafeteria.  Since we are a Leader in Me school, this seemed like it would fit in well with our school goals.  The class worked together to come up with a vision for how this would happen, and Timothy and Katie put the ideas together into an Adobe Voice presentation.

Mrs. Jessop said that she would share these ideas with the other administrators, and we will hopefully be able to implement some of them next year.

3rd Grade Works on Creating Games and Videos

The 3rd graders are getting ready to present their suggested solutions for cafeteria issues to Mrs. Jessop and Mrs. Bailey next week.  Two students worked on creating a video using a special app called Touchcast.  This app allows us to use our green screen and add some other special effects.  The other students are making games – one a video game and one a board game – to teach cafeteria rules. We still aren’t finished so hopefully we will make good progress next Tuesday morning!

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3rd Grade Makes Strides on Their Projects

The third graders spent a big portion of their time in GT getting their projects about the cafeteria ready to present to Mrs. Jessop.  One student is creating a video game, another is making board games for every grade level, and 2 students are making a “newscast.”  What was really interesting was listening to the students help each other out when they hit stumbling blocks on their projects – even if they weren’t technically working together.  They also seemed eager to try to get some of their projects completed at home so they would be able to get done in time.  We only have 2 more GT classes for this year!

We were so busy that I forgot to take pictures today.  So, I included a Creative Commons image above.  What clues do you have that this is not a photo of our cafeteria (besides the image credit)?

3rd Grade Tries to Untangle Some Problems

The 3rd graders spent a good portion of their time Tuesday working on their proposals for solving the cafeteria problems.  They finished up looking at their solutions from different perspectives, then did a PMI by highlighting positives and negatives.  After that, they helped each other think of ways to overcome some of the negatives.  All of that planning will hopefully pave the way for their awesome suggestions to give to Mrs. Jessop.

In addition to that hard work, they then worked on a collaborative math activity called “Tanglers” in which they had to practice their communication skills just as much as their math skills.  Tanglers are puzzles in which each student is given some of the clues to the answer, but they can’t show each other their clues.  They can talk about them, though – which requires good listening and analysis.  Some of the clues are irrelevant, which makes the activity even more challenging.  When first given the clues, they don’t even know the problem that they are trying to solve!  They did a great job synergizing, however, and solved three puzzles fairly quickly.

The last activity of the day was to try out designing video games with the new PixelPress Floors app.  This requires planning and meticulous drawing, and the students were a little frustrated when their first drawings scanned differently than they expected on the iPads.  However, most of them are used to the Growth Mindset by now, and knew that it would just take practice to get better.

3rd Grade Considers Different Perspectives

Now that the 3rd graders have gotten information from many sources about possible solutions for the problems with noise and trash in the cafeteria, they are narrowing down their suggestions.  Because they learned from their Systems Thinking lessons that it’s important to see the ideas from other perspectives, they did an activity called, “Framing” this Tuesday to consider how other people might be effected by each idea.  These perspectives included: the school principal, the custodians, teachers, other students, parents, and staff who work in the cafeteria.  They showed surprising insight on some of the issues that might come up!

The 3rd graders also worked on another collaborative math problem, but we mixed it up this time and did mixed-gender teams.  One team did great, while the other had a difficult time communicating with each other.  However, they both were able to solve the challenge through perseverance.

Another activity 3rd grade did was to add their creative products to the “Squiggle Challenge” all of my GT students are participating in.  The challenge comes from a school in Minnesota, and it will be interesting to see all of the different ways students can find to transform the same squiggle!

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3rd Grade Gets Feedback for Their Projects

The third graders read some more of Billibonk and the Big Itch today, which gave us the idea that the students might need to see the cafeteria problems they have been working on – noise and messiness – from a different perspective.  We decided that they needed to spend some time in there observing lunch from the adult point of view.  With clipboards in hand, they took notes during the 5th grade lunch period and discussed how some of their observations resembled or differed from what they had thought from the student perspective.

We were also very fortunate to receive some video responses to the students’ questions from last week.  A principal in Michigan sent us some answers that gave us some insight about how his school’s cafeteria works.  The students were really gratified to find out that his school uses circle tables in the cafeteria, which was one of the suggestions they found during their research to cut down on noise.  He also gave the students ideas for incentives that might encourage our own students to work on their cafeteria behavior. They took a lot of notes, and realized we need to do a little math next week so we can compare the number of students that sit in our cafeteria at one time to how many are in his during a lunch period.

Next week, we will be Skyping with a principal in Minnesota to learn more about his school’s cafeteria. The students are finding it very helpful to get a variety of perspectives!

Near the end of the day, the students worked with Cubelets using Legos donated by a 4th grader and the new brick adapters donated by the Castleberries.  They also explored the new MaKey Makey purchased for our class by a 4th grade parent.

Third Grade Prepares Interview Questions

Due to STAAR testing on Tuesday, 3rd grade had a shortened GT period, but got quite a bit done.  They worked on questions to ask administrators at other schools about how they handle cafeteria behavior.  The questions were placed on something called Flipgrid, where they will hopefully get answers from administrators all over the world.  They are also planning to do a Skype interview with an administrator next week to get more ideas on how to limit noise and mess in the cafeteria as part of their Genius Hour/Systems Thinking projects.

The 3rd graders also got to try to new beta version of the Hopscotch app, which is an iPad app for programming.  Hopscotch is already available for free downloads, but the company is working on updating the app, and they want feedback from as many people as possible.  Considering the 3rd graders hadn’t used Hopscotch before, they did pretty well in the small amount of time they had!

We also want to thank the Castleberry family for their recent donation of some new Cubelets and Lego Adapters from our class wish list.  We hope to get started using them next week!

3rd Grade Works on More Cubelets Problem Solving and Genius Hour Research

I gave the third graders a challenge to make Cubelet robots that could race each other to a finish line.  This required a lot of problem solving on the part of the students.  They were good at making robots that moved, but had a hard time trying to get them to stay in a straight line.  I really liked how they used scientific thinking to work on their problem.  They would hypothesize a solution, change a variable, and test it.  One of the issues they thought was working against them was our tile floor, so they set up a racetrack bounded by books on a smooth table. Unfortunately, that didn’t help!  One robot finally made it to the end from start to finish with no interference in between.  It was a fun challenge!

In Billibonk and the Big Itch, the students heard about the idea of looking at where a problem is not occurring to try to figure out how it is different than where a problem is occurring.  They are going to apply this to their Genius Hour projects by doing research on cafeterias that don’t have noise or trash problems to see what our school might want to try to do differently.  We are hoping to Skype some administrators from other schools to learn more about their cafeteria rules and setup.