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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Properties of Matter Design Challenge: Texture Totem Poles

After investigating the properties of matter (texture, flexibility, mass, color, shape and size), students were challenged to design and create a totem pole where the grouping rule for each level was texture.

We began by reading and researching totem poles: What is a totem pole? This research created a bit of a buzz in the classroom as many students were not at all familiar with the concept of a totem pole.

Armed with new learning, students were introduced to the challenge and the product criteria.

Before actually creating a plan, students participated in a materials investigation where they brainstormed possible materials and examined them to determine their texture.

Students then planned their material usage and drew a diagram of the totem pole they wanted to create.

Students used their plan to create their totem pole. Once complete, they rechecked the criteria list, met with a peer to gain feedback for improvement, revised their plan and moved forward with improvements. 

In addition to sharing their totem pole with the class, students also used the Draw and Tell app to showcase their work and explain the different textures.

All in all, I was impressed with students' engagement in this project, their quality of work and their skills at giving feedback and improving their work! Well done!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Celebrating Dot Day

We had a great time celebrating Dot Day today!

Who knew there were so many fun read alouds for Dot Day??

We started our day by listening to 
Peter Reynolds, author of Dot Day, 
read the story and talk a little bit about his writing.

We used the Quiver app, an augmented reality app, 
to make colored dots 'come to life'.

We used the Draw and Write app to create dot designs 
and tell how we can make our mark on the world

We met some new 1st grade friends @OCTRead 
to share some books and some very creative dots.

We did a lab experiment to investigate 
all the colors that make up a black dot.

We built and tested marble runs using inclined planes.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Properties of Matter: Crime Scene Investigation

First graders acted the part of amateur detectives this morning in science class.  We've been using a variety of balls to learn about the properties of matter all week. Students investigated, described, matched, sorted and categorized balls according to their properties. The focus was on the properties color, shape, texture and the relative size and mass of the balls.

Today, students listened excitedly as I told them that the Grapevine Police Department shared one of their crime scenes so that they could practice their observation and deduction skills and demonstrate mastery of the properties of matter standard for first grade.

The scenario went like this...
Over the weekend, a ball was thrown through a window somewhere in Grapevine. Two crime scene clues were given: 
  • The ball that was thrown through the window was smaller than an apple.
  • The ball that was thrown through the window was the heaviest of the group of balls.
Can you use your observation, investigation and deductive skills to determine the ball that was the culprit?

In order to complete the investigation, students focused on the first clue...relative size. They lined up all their balls, compared them to the apple then excluded the all balls that were bigger than an apple.

Then it was on to the second clue...relative mass. Students used a balance scale to compare the mass (weight) of each of the remaining balls until they were sure that they had the heaviest ball (which also happened to be one of the smaller balls).

Then, it was time to open the box to see the actual evidence 'sent to us' by the police department. And.....drumroll was a match!

As students went off to record this event in their Science notebooks I overheard, "I'm going to be a crime scene investigator when I grow up!"..."Yeah, me too."

The idea for this investigation came from STEMscopes, Accelerated Learning. I love using STEMscopes as part of my science instruction and this particular lesson was a big hit!

Upon reflection, how I could have made this lesson better...
  1. I wish I had the yellow crime scene tape enhance the atmosphere.
  2. I wish I had arranged for a real police officer to visit to set up the scenario and give feedback to the 'investigators'. I'll remember that next year:)