Saturday, December 19, 2015

Connecting with Common Core - Collaborative Discussion

Students in Room A-4 enjoyed connecting with the Common Core State Standards through collaborative group discussion about the novel Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman.  After reading several chapters of the novel--while annotating and citing evidence of character's growth and transformation--students were given the challenge to come up with questions addressing different levels of questioning using Bloom's Taxonomy and Costa's Levels of questioning to prepare for collaborative group discussion.  Students wrote questions on index cards and noted which level each question addressed.  Then, in teams a group facilitator initiated the discussion choosing students to read questions, while tracking progress of students who asked questions, answered questions, and listened attentively.  Students took turns asking questions and called on their team members to answer their questions, often citing evidence or agreeing/disagreeing with their peers to show depth of thought and analysis.  After discussing the spectrum of low to high level questions, students completed a writing task answering their partner's questions in writing on a shared Google Slides presentation.  What a fantastic activity--it was such a joy to be a "silent witness" to the deep and thoughtful conversation that was all student-led!  Enjoy the photos/videos below and check out another classroom engaged in collaborative discussion here!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sahara Survival Guides and Games!

After taking detailed Cornell Notes on the Sahara Desert, students created guides or games to challenge one another's knowledge of the Sahara!  Some students created real board games or card games, while others created digital or online games including Kahoot quizzes, interactive PowerPoint/Google Slides presentations, Minecraft games, and more!  Enjoy the fun below!

Trans-Saharan Trade Expedition! - Simulation

Students embarked on the journey of a lifetime today pretending to renact the travelers along the trans-Saharan trade network.  Students were split up--half becoming African traders and half becoming Arab traders.  Students chose a new name (African or Arab) and wore name tags to distinguish themselves.  Then, they randomly picked 10 trade items from a paper bag--the Arabs receiving items such as spices, incense, boiled candies, and Arabic and the Africans receiving items such as gold, salt, beads, and silver.  Students continued onto a message board on Edmodo introducing themselves, their trade items, and their feelings about their travels.  Then, students proceeded to "travel and trade" with one another. Students used language and gestures to communicate with each other trading items, bargaining, and walking away with new goods! After gathering their bounty of goods, students reflected  in writing on the journey, including the trade items students received and how they might use their items once at home.  They finally voted on the most popular trade items and used Google Translate to write in Arabic something they learned or learned to speak during their trade expedition.  Enjoy the fun-filled day in photos below!

Students then wrote first person journals about their experience: