Monday, April 21, 2014

How is a rainbow born?

After visiting Acorn School, a Reggio-Inspired school in Richmond Hill, as part of our CTInquiry network group (Connected Through Inquiry) a few weeks ago, Heidi and I felt inspired by one of their documentation pieces displayed. This documentation piece was a collaborative story written by their Junior Preschoolers and Senior Preschoolers of the school. Heidi and I absolutely loved how they co-created a story with their students around an inquiry question and thus, we adopted the idea while making it our own for our Rainbow Inquiry to follow suit with one of the initial wonderings posed by C.S (JK). 

To set a context for this post, I would like to highlight that much thinking and learning occurred within the walls of our classroom over the past few weeks that led up to this collaborative story being created by our students. With our students actively adopting the role of a "Scientist" as part of this environmental inquiry, whether it be through our daily conversations, sharing and building on each other's thinking and in connection to various literacy experiences and scientific explorations (e.g. read alouds, shared reading, experimentation, etc), as a teaching team, we made the conscious and purposeful decision to tie in this unique learning opportunity in a way that was unique to us and our learners. In doing so, we hope that this post illustrates to you that this was not something we saw and then "replicated," but rather this learning moment was something that was complimentary to our students theories and thinking about rainbows and where they come from.  

A special thanks to our good friend and inspiring colleague, Angie Harrison, for pushing our own thinking as a teaching team around how to make visible to our blog followers that as much as this post highlights a "product," there was still a process involved that got our learners and us as a teaching team to this point in our inquiry. 

Image captured from Acorn School during our visit
How is a rainbow born?

A Collaborative Story created by the Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten students 
in Ms. Schmidt & Ms. Theis’ class

A rainbow is born with just the air (E.Sz). The rainbow is also born with the sun (D.K). A rainbow can be born during the rain or after the rain in the sky (E.S). My thinking is when the rainbow starts it goes one colour to the other colour, to the other colour and that’s how it grows (C.S). 

The first colour is red. It is hot (M.P). The second colour is orange (R.T). It is warmish (L.M). The third colour is yellow (P.B). It is like the sun (V.D). The fourth colour is green (E.Sz). It feels like the grass (Z.P). The fifth colour is blue. It is like the sky (R.K). The last colour is purple (M.D). It feels soft (R.V). 

I see the rainbow start from the left and it looks like a semi-circle (E.S). Maybe the other half of the circle is in the ground? (T.B) The colours disappear but the rainbow is still there until another day of rain (E.S). When the rainbow camouflages in the air, it breaks off and turns into air (T.L). 
Then a new one is born (Z.P). 

But how? (T.D.)

We'd like to extend our sincerest thanks to Acorn School for opening their doors and welcoming us so kindly into their inspiring learning space! 
We hope to visit again very soon!

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Spring has sprung (finally!) and a lot of exciting things are unfolding in our classroom! To provide you with some context of where we are now, I'd like to highlight where we started from over a month ago whereby our students had shown a profound interest in putting on "plays." In order to honour their interests, we worked with our students to help rearrange our learning space to provoke and support their curiousity by turning one area of our classroom into a puppet theatre! After much excitement and many celebrated performances, a few students realized that we didn't have a name for our theatre! After a small group of students brainstormed some possibilities, one SK student (E.S.) decided to create a survey and collect data from her peers around what we should name our theatre based on the four collected names. 

Little did we know, that the winning name itself would shift their gears to begin inquiring about a completely new topic! "Rainbow 126" was the most popular name voted on and that has now opened the doors to our students wonderings about rainbows!

Here are a some of our colourful theories:

What does a rainbow look like?

It looks kind of like a semi-circle because a semi-circle really looks like a rainbow because it’s half of a circle. - D.K. (SK)

A rainbow is like this (makes an arch motion). It’s good because then it’s like a slide and maybe you can sleep on it! - R.V. (JK)

To make a rainbow, you need water because the word “rain” is in rainbow! 
- T.B. (SK)

I see that when rain comes you see a rainbow! It looked like there was red, orange, yellow, green, blue and pink! - J.Si. (SK)

Where do we see rainbows?

We see rainbows when there’s lots of rain and when the rain stops. We see it start on the ground and it reflects on the sky. “Reflects” means that the same things goes on that one thing. - D.K. (SK)

One time, I saw a water sprinkler and then the sun comes out and then I saw a rainbow you know? - Z.P. (SK)

I saw a rainbow in my cousin’s house. I saw it in the washroom and I caught it and then it got out of my hand. When the sun went away the rainbow did too. But then I found it again when the light comes back. - M.D. (JK)

In the sky where the sunlight is! Rainbows don’t live inside our house. Rainbows can shine on people you know? I was driving in my car and I saw it in the sky! 
-R.V. (JK)

Sometimes where it’s a beautiful rainy day and when it stops raining a rainbow appears. It looks like a beautiful rising colours in the sky! - C.S. (JK)

In the sky! It has to be day time because the sun helps and you can’t see a rainbow in the dark. - R.K. (SK)

Can you catch a rainbow?

When you touch a rainbow, it goes on your hand. It just feels like air so you can’t slide down because you’ll fall. It’s too high and there’s no oxygen there. 
- E.Sz. (SK)

No it’s because rainbows disappear after a long time and they come back when the rain stops. - R.K. (SK)

I think you can’t because rainbows are too big to get in a net and you can’t really hold a rainbow. When you touch a rainbow your hand goes right through it! It’s made of air too. - D.K. (SK)

I think it’s made out of sunlight. - S.R. (JK)

Rainbows are nothing but colours in the air. - T.L. (SK)

Some of our wonderings...

I wonder if rainbows fade and disappear? - M.P. (SK)

I wonder how the colours pop out? 
- E.S. (SK)

I wonder where rainbows come from? 
- J.H. (SK)

I wonder how a rainbow is born? 
- C.S. (JK)

I wonder why rainbows have different colours? - J.Sa. (SK)

To fast-forward a few weeks, our class has been actively engaged as Scientists as we continue to generate new theories, pose and answer our wonderings and collect information based on our discoveries and our own experiences with rainbows! Stay tuned for a post that highlights our first of many rainbow experiments! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"To develop the whole child we must develop the mathematical child." - D. Clements

I'd like to start this post by thanking Deborah Sinyard (@sinyarddeb) for sharing with me the beautiful quote above by D. Clements. This quote struck a cord with me since some incredible mathematical learning took place in our classroom last week! Just like we encourage our students to see themselves as scientists, authors, artists, architects, and beyond we also encourage our students to think of themselves as mathematicians. A JK/SK team embraced just that and this post will highlight how through one invitation for learning, this team made some incredible mathematical connections to what we've been learning about and exploring in our classroom!

Prior to this exploration, Heidi and I have been leading mini lessons during our Math Exploration and Learning Time around teaching to particular early number concepts (e.g. "movement is magnitude," "subitizing, "stable order" and "part/part/whole") using a variety of different mathematical tools (e.g. Rekenrek, connecting cubes, etc). While one of us is instructing a mini lesson, the other is circulating, documenting student learning, and asking prompting questions to push students' thinking.

Here's what unfolded...

While the other students were engaged in their various mathematical explorations, I noticed a JK/SK team (J.L. and R.V.) working closely together with the number cards and kapla blocks....they were co-creating a number line! Each student had a hand of cards and they were taking turns picking a card from each other and placing them in numerical order on the table (from 1-10). Even if a number was already down, they matched each card and with some prompting, they constructed a "tower" out of kapla blocks to show what that number looks like. 

I noticed that both J.L. and R.V. would check each other's "towers" by counting each kapla block used and ensuring that it was the correct number of blocks (thus practicing their one-to-one correspondence skills). This reminded me of the domino card game we put out last week as an invitation for learning to practice recognizing numbers without having to count and matching the cards to the corresponding numbers on the domino. It was wonderful to see them using the new open-ended materials and applying what they learned in such an authentic way!

It was also great to see J.L. and R.V. make connections to our explorations of "Number Trains" and compose each number of their number line using the connecting cubes! R.V. even made a connection to creating an AB pattern!

Here are some of the question prompts I asked the girls as they were creating their number line:
1. Can you tell me what you're making?
2. I wonder how we could use these materials to show what these numbers look like?
3. Why did you choose to stack the blocks? What do you notice about the numbers? What do they look like?
4. How are all the numbers different?
5. What happens to the towers when you count forward to 10?
6. What happens to the towers when you count backwards from 10?

When asked the last two question prompts, both J.L. and R.V. came to the conclusions that when counting forward to 10 the "towers" got taller which meant the numbers got bigger and when counting backwards from 10, the "towers" got smaller which meant the numbers got smaller! Fascinating connections!

Here is some captured video documentation of the girls in action:

I'd like to thank a wonderful friend, Heather Jelley, for picking my brain and getting me thinking about my position as the active "observer" and what types of question prompts I used to get these students to this point in their learning and understanding! It certainly gave me goosebumps revisiting my recordings and transcriptions!

Here's one "Think Tank" question that Heather left me with and I welcome any thoughts and ideas! 

How do you invite/engage/provoke learning in your classrooms with a math focus?