23 Feb 2014

New ICT tool - padlet.com

Padlet.com is an online app that is designed to work just as beautifully on an ipad as it does on a laptop or similar device - accessed viz the internet, its uses are numerous: for independent, group or whole class activities, for teaching, for learning - you are only limited by your imagination!

This is a great overview of some ideas, created by Suzy of the Technically Invisible blog and you can get your own free copy of it here
My class have been used the site for reading responses and inquiry brainstorming/sharing of ideas.

Modern 3/4 portraits

Inspiration for these has come via my favourite art blog Deep Space Sparkle and was ideal for beginning our painting art focus for this term. Ours did not turn out as 'true to type' as what was in the DSS lesson but we are really thrilled with the 'modern' look our portraits have taken on!
In the first week of school we wrote 'I am...' poems and I wanted the pupils to paint portraits of themselves; they have always done full-face portraits so agreed they are ready to try a different angle.

We found these images of self-portraits by Van Gogh on Google images:

First we practised the line drawings as advised by Deep Space Sparkle - we used 1/2 A4 and pencils, doing two attempts before then moving onto A4 paper, first with pencil, then with crayons.

Next, we moved onto A3 black paper (the paint colours we will be using are so bright, we think they will look good on the black paper - it will be something different for a change!)  The outlines were done with white chalk (easy to paint over).

We first painted the faces and features. We aimed to be using short brush strokes like Van Gogh used.

Next we painted the background, our focus being to have a mixture of colours, again with the short brush strokes.

Our next step, once the paint was dry, was to add some highlighting detail with black outlines on the main features - we did this with black oil pastels.

Don't they look fantastic?!

Normally I would launch into a painting unit by first working the children through a couple of sessions of brush techniques and colour mixing.  But for this activity I just wanted to get a quick product so we could display them to make the room colourful and it has also given me a baseline to see what the pupils can do.

As we worked I talked about the importance of proportion (ie large paper, so draw the features much larger) and emphasised the correct way to hold a brush, as well as the use of newspaper to clean the brush before getting the next colour (I do not as a rule use jars of water for cleaning brushes while painting).

I did not really have a set criteria - just wanted the children to do what they could.  We will have more specific learning outcomes as the painting  unit progresses.

9 Feb 2014

LEARNZ Virtual Field Trip - Feb 2014 - Geohazards

A resource I love to use to provide content and extend my pupils for reading and/or inquiry, is the NZ website LEARNZ, which provides real-time virtual field trips to various locations or based on various events around NZ.

I love it because the field trips, once you have registered and they have taken place, can be accessed any time - so if it doesn't suit my programme to follow the trip in real time on the dates the trip takes place, my pupils can still make use of the related resources at another time - for instance in 2012 there was a wetlands field trip which we used about two terms later in the year when it fit better in support of our inquiry.

Term One of 2014 - 25-27 Feb - a field trip to the geo-thermal region of the Bay of Plenty in the North Island of New Zealand is taking place. We will be using it for our reading programme as I think the non-fiction nature of the content will really motivate my boys and my reluctant readers:

The topic of natural disasters is one that many children find fascinating and, as I cannot physically take my southern class to view this North Island area, they will be able to see it via the photos and videos that will take place on the website. They know this is our theme and were excited about what they might find out.

This is a link to the learning resources page I created on our classroom blog for the children to use: 

My guided group lessons will be using material based on the geohazard topics also, and the class bookshelf also has library books about the topics.  Different reading groups, as per ability, will be given guided or independent activities to complete over the next four weeks, some from the field trip and others based on their guided reading material.  These are the independent sheets that I have developed based on the fact sheets in the LEARNZ website.

Supporting materials - guided reading resources: to be used with various groups according to reading ability and interest level of the content...I usually set pre and post tasks for the title, meaning that the group has at least three days of activities with the guided text and one day of an independent activity using other resources (but that is a whole other blog post!)
  • Connected 2 2005 - Living on a Lava Flow
  • Connected 1 2011 - Ruaumoko Rages; Taupo; Time Capsules; Understanding Volcanoes; Living With a Volcano
  • School Journal Part 2 No. 2 2002 -  Make a Volcano
  • National Geographic Kids Science Readers Level 2 - Volcanoes!
  • School Journal Level 3 Nov 2011 - One City, Two Earthquakes
  • School Journal Story Library Level 3 - Quake, Rattle and Roll
  • Connected 2 2000 - Jago Descends
  • MainSails 2 - The Volcano Awakes!
  • MainSails 2 - Tsunami!
  • School Journal Part 4 No 3 2004 - A Bit of a Bang
  • MacMillan Winners - Killer Quakes
  • Scholastic Connectors - Extreme Scientists

5 Feb 2014

Start of the year...who are we?

Two activities to help share or build identity: 4pics 1 person (pupils drew pictures to represent themselves. Some jumbled their names and others chose not to.)

I showed the children some of the pinterest posters for "in our classroom, we do..." statements.  They worked in groups to select statements of what they would like our classroom to be and then each decorated one panel for a mural...
First one at the top says WE DO LEARNING! Great to know that message is coming through! 

I have a blissful class of just twenty Year Six pupils - we are going to have a fantastic year I think!!