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Twitter: @ireneb2011
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Cannon's Cardboard Creations Challenge!!

Today was a very exciting day at Cannon as we launched the 
Cannon Cardboard Creation Challenge.  
This is part of a global cardboard challenge sponsored by the Imagination Foundation.

The idea is something awesome out of cardboard, recycled materials and imagination. To get inspired, watch this video, Caine's Arcade. We watched it at school today and I heard comments like, "Wow, Caine is super creative!" and "Caine is not afraid to do hard stuff." and "Can I make a cardboard creation too?"

The rules are simple...
  • Scholars will design and build their OWN cardboard creation at home using recyclable materials. 
  • Scholars should bring their creations to school on October 10th where all the creations will be on display for the entire school to see!
  • Siblings MAY work together.
  • Scholars choosing to participate, will earn an innovative thinking 'digital badge'!
  • All projects will be shared globally as Cannon Elementary has registered for the 2014 Global Cardboard Challenge!!

Just to get your creative juices flowing, check out these links then imagine your very own cardboard creation!

101 Things to Do With A Cardboard Box

Sunday, September 14, 2014


After reading the book, Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors, by Rachelle Doorley, I became a little obsessed with creating  TinkerLabs for my classroom. One of my teaching goals for this year became to design more tinkering experiences for scholars.

Tinkering is the focused and purposeful investigation and experimentation of materials with the intent to learn, generate new ideas and expand thinking. Tinkering builds background knowledge and experiences that are directly tied to the tenets of engineering and the engineering design process: planning, building, making connections, design, observation, seeking pattens, improvement and sharing knowledge.

With that in mind, I developed classroom TinkerLabs. So far there are 16 TinkerLabs in our classroom ranging from tinkering with simple machines to using light to notice details and patterns to playing with color, design and pattern to create art. One example is the 'Earth Movers' lab...a favorite.

Each tinker lab has been put together in a plastic tub that includes all of the materials and card with the task, guiding questions and vocabulary. 

Each lab was introduced during the first week of school and now we have 'TinkerLabs' a few times each week as part of our Engineering time.

Here are some pics of the kids at work...notice how engaged they are!

Investigating the properties of sand, soil and rocks in the 'Earth Movers' Lab

Building a wagon in the 'Wheel and Axle' Lab

Investigating the attributes of different animals in the 'Grrrr-Animals' Lab

Planning, designing and building in the 'Domino Maze' Lab

Investigating details using animal x-rays in the 'Light It Up' Lab

Investigating pattern and color in the 'Light It Up' Lab

Using a microscope to notice details in the 'Take A Closer Look' Lab

Learning about color and shape while building in the 'Shadows' Lab

Experimenting with color and design in the 'Gears + Wheels = Art' Lab

Designing a catapult in the 'Lever' Lab

Using Legos to build animals and habitats in the 'Lego-Lands' Lab.
Tinker labs have been going well these past few weeks. One of the challenges for me is making the time to keep designing new labs throughout the year. Another challenge is to get to each of the labs to talk with scholars about their thinking and what they're actually discuss the 'guiding questions'  and the 'vocabulary' on the cards! So many little time!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Building A Classroom Community

I am a lover of books...both children's books and adult books! This summer I was on a mission to find the perfect books to help establish our classroom climate. (By the way, I LOVE Amazon Prime! Any book I want or need is just a click and a day away!)
I looped with my students this year so I have, for the most part, the same students I had last year. So, it was no surprise to them that we began our first school day sharing a book together...and our second school day and out third school day....well, just about every day so far:)
In the days leading up to the first day of school, I selected some special books with which to begin the year. These books are entertaining to kids and also carry important messages about persistence, kindness, self control, and asking for help; all attributes of a positive classroom culture.

We read and discussed each book, determining the authors message and the 'moral of the story'. And, because our campus theme this year is 'Superheroes - What's your Superpower?', we assigned a 'superpower' to each book.

The kids have been rereading these books in our classroom library and we refer to our class superpowers often because the stories serve as reminders for the norms of our classroom.

Special thanks to the amazing teachers in my PLN for their suggestions and sharing spirit!