This week, the 3rd graders practiced introducing their Genius Hour video about Coral Reefs and the accompanying Scratch video game they created so they can present it to their homeroom classes.
The 3rd graders want to save the coral reefs, and learned from their Skype with a science reporter that buying sustainable seafood can help. They researched which grocery stores in our area sell sustainable seafood (seafood caught or raised responsibly), and found that Greenpeace has given the following scores to our local stores. Then they input the data into a Google Sheet and created a chart. This will be used in their Genius Hour presentation.
With their Genius Hour research completed, the 3rd graders have begun working on their presentation with the hope of persuading more kids to help save the coral reefs. They decided to make a video game using Scratch programming that will teach kids facts about the coral reef and the things that damage it. So far, the game has been a great collaborative effort from the students, and they are branching out this week to add some more details from home.
The 3rd graders worked on creating coral using the 3d modeling program Tinkercad this week. They learned that many coral have symmetry and we talked about different types of symmetry, such as radial symmetry. Then they worked on a Project Ignite tutorial that walked them through designing coral with linear and radial symmetries. There were a lot of new design skills to learn, but they persevered!
The students also reviewed “systems thinking,” and we began to read a great book that teaches how to apply systems thinking in the real world called, Billibonk and the Thorn Patch.
The 3rd graders practiced using Multiple Perspectives (one of Kaplan’s Depth & Complexity icons) by making character Valentines this week. First we brainstormed traits for each of the characters in Fish in a Tree. Then the students each chose a sender and a recipient from the characters. They had to design their Valentines so that we could tell which character made it and which character would receive it – without using any names 🙂 The students had a lot of fun, and did such a great job that we guessed them all correctly. (Click on image to enlarge.)
They also worked on some very challenging Valentine Sudoku puzzles, most of them showing extreme tenacity when they had to start over multiple times!
This week was a bit chaotic for 3rd grade GT due to group pictures. We didn’t get as much work accomplished as usual, but the students did do some problem-solving.
In the book, Fish in a Tree, the teacher poses a river crossing riddle to his students which our students also endeavored to solve. After making some manipulative pieces (and removing some of the more unrealistic answers) , they were able to determine the solution.
The students also tackled some more verbal Hands-On-Equations problems this week. Lesson 3 stymied them for a bit, so it was definitely a bigger challenge than the first couple of lessons we did. The students persevered, though, and should be ready to try Lesson 4 next week!
This week, the 3rd grade GT students started to learn how to design 3d objects using an online program called Tinkercad. The students spent most of their time exploring the different tools and doing a couple of tutorials. Our goal is to have the students begin designing different types of coral to print out, and possibly inventions that might help the coral reef by the end of this year.
The 3rd graders also got introduced to word problems where they need to apply what they have learned about algebra so far. They caught on very quickly, so they actually flew through Lessons 1 & 2!
All of the GT 2nd-5th graders are receiving their GT report cards this week. The 3rd-5th grade report card is new to our brand new 3rd graders, so we went over the self-assessment portion together this week. Once the students scored themselves, they chose from the areas they had scored lower to create goals for the second semester in GT.
In addition to working on report cards, 3rd grade discussed the bravery in Fish in a Tree and worked on the last lesson for level 1 in Hands-On-Equations.
The 3rd graders chose to study the health of the coral reefs for their Genius Hour project this year. As part of their research, they spoke to Erik Vance, a reporter who has written stories about the impact of mankind on the animals who live in the ocean. We connected with Erik through the Pulitzer Center, one of the many resources on the Skype in the Classroom site. (The Pulitzer Center, by the way, has a wonderful educational outreach program that includes a fabulous Lesson Builder tool.)
From Mr. Vance the students learned about some practical ways that we can help to keep the oceans healthy. He taught them about “sustainable fishing,” and that one easy way we can promote this is to ask waiters for sustainable fish in restaurants. Mr. Vance also told the students about a creative project an artist has done in Cancun – placing sculptures underwater. The sculptures attract sea creatures who add to his artistic masterpieces, enticing tourists to swim in this area rather than in regions where amateur divers might cause damage to fragile ecosystems.
We really appreciate Mr. Vance’s time and expertise! Thanks to him and Fareed Mostoufi at the Pulitzer Center for making our Skype visit possible!
The 3rd graders practiced part of the Design Thinking process this week by using Bloxels kits. These kits work with an app, allowing you to physically design parts of a video game and import to the iPad app once you are ready. To begin, the students talked about games they like and don’t like and tried some Bloxels games that have been created by others. This is the “empathy” stage of Design Thinking. Then they “defined” what was important to include or not include in a game of their own design and “ideated” some possible designs. The next step was to “prototype” their games using the Bloxels colored cubes in their kits. After this, they were able to download and “test” their games. They will work more on refining their games when we return from the break.