Our current IB-PYP unit is How We Organize Ourselves, and the central idea is "Humans organize to meet needs." Since the school year began, we've been examining organizational structures like our class library layout, conventions in fiction, routines in our day, conversation protocols, mathematical processes (including order of operations), and more.
I also wanted students to get into a coding mindset, as seen in our Choose Your Own Adventure tour of the U.S. regions. This time, I invited them to create flow charts around some topic of real world organization. As the user/viewer follows the chart with a question, there will be a different path (or result) that depends on his/her response to that question. Creating these requires a thorough understanding of the topic, a good sense of abstract thinking skills, and patience to create a layout that's easy to read.
Student topics ranged from organizing craft supplies to organizing routines before school. One student, who participates in our morning announcements team, gave tips on how to be a broadcast anchor.
Here are some of the drafts:
My class has been using a great thinking routine called Which One Doesn't Belong (check out the #WODB hashtag on Twitter for lots of examples), which asks students to practice logical thinking, and to communicate using mathematical language.
You can project the four choices and have students signal a number from 1 to 4 to show which one they think doesn't belong, and then call on a student to give reasoning. You can also ask students to move to four corners of the room, share their reasoning for choosing that option with other people in that corner, and then share out to the whole group. You can also use it as a written check / ticket out the door activity to get a measure of individual thinking.
I decided to extend this activity by taking it into our maker space this past week so students could build their own options. (So much fun, right?)
When we did this project, I wanted my students to study U.S. regions (a 5th grade state standard), use research and writing skills, use technology in a new way to add to their project toolkits, and to apply creative and logical thinking skills.
I showed my students the goals and an example of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure slideshow I made about Canada. Then we discussed what we thought a good project would include. Some of their ideas:
Students worked in pairs, trios, or individuals, according to their preferences, and they also chose the region to focus on for the project. Some had background knowledge about specific places, and others were researching everything. The slides started with a choice about which state or city to visit, and each choice led to another choice, or a dead end, with regional highlights as part of the virtual tour:
I just finished a round of book clubs with my students for the first time this year. I tried a new system and I wanted to share in case anyone else out there is looking for something similar.
I like the concept of literature circles, in that students are having discussions about the book and they have roles and responsibilities, but some of the roles in the traditional model seem unnecessary to me. I don’t think we need students to create original illustrations of a scene from the book to understand the book, for example.
I avoided book clubs for the past two years because of two universal truths: some students aren’t prepared with their reading in time for meetings, and some students read ahead and inevitably spoil (or incessantly talk about how they can’t talk for fear of spoiling) plot points during the discussion. It’s also true that I lean heavily on choice for reading time, and it’s hard to pick a winning book (or six) for every student in a given class.
I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of students and families in IA, CT, NC, MO, TX, and Canada. I love being a teacher-librarian!