The roll of the die for Stage 3

As noted in my recent post about the culminating activity for Stage 2’s science & technology unit, Bloom’s (Revised) Taxonomy now puts “Creation” above “Evaluation” (as seen in this revised diagram). In the race to the end-of-term activities, this last step can sometimes be easily overlooked, but I was determined to get to this point with both units – and we were successful!

For the culmination of this term’s work with the Stage 3 students – we’ve been studying Antarctic explorers in HSIE (human society & its environment) – I devised a journal-writing activity that relied upon the roll of a six-sided die (ie. numerals 1 to 6) to suggest each new diary entry for our student “explorers”. The students were hopefully able to be creative, while using all the essential field knowledge and skills developed by the unit.

The displayed key to the die was as follows:
1. Team member lost down crevasse
2. Dogs are hungry
3. Frostbite!
4. Sled stuck to ice
5. Clothes wet and frozen
6. Blizzard!

Each student was handed a worksheet with headings for Day 1, Day 5, Day 8, Day 10 and Day 14 (and room for more if the journalist/explorers decided they wanted to keep adventuring and create more entries, or had actually “survived” to make such a decision). Students could elect to be their team’s leader or the member in charge of documenting their expedition for posterity.

It was decided that the first roll would be common for each student in a class, with all future rolls individual to a student as they were ready to write their next entries. One group of explorers, 6D, rolled the dire “Team member lost down crevasse” option for Day 1. 5B began their expedition with the threat of “Frostbite”. 6W got off to a slow start, meeting a “Blizzard!” on Day 1. The teacher and teacher-librarian then made their way around the room, rolling the fates of the explorers for the rest of their journal entries.

It was certainly a fun activity! All three classes were engrossed, and there was a flurry of insightful observations and good use of field knowledge. As the individual journals took on their unique twists and turns, the students began to realise how much they were at the mercy of the elements (and Lady Luck) in the harsh Antarctic environment. Losing team members down crevasses, and having to put their personal reactions into a such short diary entry was often quite confronting, especially if the journal might be the only way that news would get back to loved ones.

Not to trivialise the trials of genuine explorers, there were still a few examples of an ironic, begrudging hilarity, as one student began an incredulous string of bad luck with “Frostbite!”. Another was snowed in by a raging “Blizzard!” for much of his diary (“I paid $30,000 to sail to Antarctica and I’m stuck here in my tent!”) Another student learned of the dangers of ignoring ravenously hungry sled dogs the hard way.

Stage 3 students can often be quite jaded about aspects of their learning, but it was a pleasant surprise today hearing one group, whose teacher had been absent for the simulation game, excitedly remember the highlights of last week’s lesson. Roll on our next term’s (complementary) unit: “Wild Weather and Natural Disasters” for science & technology.

The students write:

Day 1 and we’ve lost a team member. Everyone is sad and nobody wants to talk. We had a quiet dinner and then went straight to bed. Nothing special happened. Just quietness. Captain wrote a letter to his wife. He cried quietly while he did this. We hope it never happens again.”

Day 10: My sled is stuck against the ice again and again. I have an idea! We will unpack some of our equipment and put it into the backpacks…”

Day 5: Today there is a raging blizzard and it is worse than any of us could have imagined. It is freezing cold and we can’t see anything in front of us. I think we will have to stay inside our shelter.”

Bright ideas – Inventions for Stage 2

Bloom’s (Revised) Taxonomy now puts “Creation” above “Evaluation”, as seen in this revised diagram.

Here’s the blackline original I created to help out Stage 2 students to finish up their science and technology unit on “Inventions”. Hopefully, the students were able to create some new knowledge, using all the essential field knowledge and skills developed by the unit:

BLM - inventions

And two completed creations:

PROBLEM: “Falling out of bed” by Maria:
invention 2

PROBLEM: “Falling off a motorbike” by John:
invention 1
(Note the “invented spelling” of “exhaust pipes” on this one.)

Bilbies at Easter

The picture book, “Hunwick’s egg” by Mem Fox and Pamela Lofts, makes a great Easter book for developing some field knowledge about bilbies, eggs and Australian fauna and fauna without necessarily getting into the Easter message and Easter Bunnies.

But there is no shortage of bilby-related Australian picture books these days and many students are now aware of the plight of Australia’s endangered bilbies and why so many are immortalized as fund-raising chocolate confections at the time of year.

The Premier’s Reading Challenge is promoting a beautiful bilby story by Nette Hilton, “The smallest bilby solves the biggest problem” on Youtube. It’s part of the K-2 Challenge and this version is illustrated by school students working with Nette Hilton.

Chocolate Easter bilby
A chocolate Easter bilby.

Fastest animators in the west

The Stage 3 students – four boys – in our school’s hearing unit made this short animation with me today:

We used Xtra Normal with very minimal knowledge of online animation programs, and created the above clip in about thirty minutes. The ability to edit and re-edit over and over, and so quickly, kept the students very engaged. Despite their hearing losses, which required them to split their attention between the IWB and the teacher’s aide signing them the dialogue, the boys were getting such a lot out of this program. We were going to do some interactive Antarctica activities this afternoon, but the lesson took a dramatic tangent into the lesser-known world of Web 2.0.

A few words of caution: I think it is best used with the teacher registering and small groups of students collaborating with it, under careful teacher supervision. That way all the productions are stored together, under the teacher’s log-in name. I did notice that some of the “demo” animation samples on the site are very inappropriate for use with students. For example, the Tiger Woods parody!

Elusive Antarctica

With the emptying and storage of our school’s library contents, I’ve only been able to hold back minimal thematic resources to cover us for the next seven months (or so?). Added to that is the fact that the library’s now-invaluable interactive whiteboard (IWB) is in storage, too, and only a few of the classrooms I visit have their own.

The Stage 3 students are studying Antarctica in HSIE (Human Society & Its Environment) and we’ve been keen to revisit an interactive website we found two years ago, but numerous TaLe and Google searches weren’t revealing the one we wanted. I know I had the URL on the C-drive of my library computer, but that is packed away too. The clickable pages, which were motivating enough on small computer screens, would have been very exciting as IWB learning objects.

Last night I found the website! It was, of course, Discovering Antarctica, a UK site.

The most popular page, last time, had been What (not) to wear, an opportunity to dress an Antarctic scientist in appropriate clothing for his unique working environment. I can’t wait to see how it looks on the classroom IWBs.
What (not) to wear