Friday, November 1, 2013

This week in River Class

This week's Big Fish

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We have just finished our first six-week rotation of S’math with the students is Sky and River.  Abby and Tom each did three different activities over the course of three weeks with one class.  Then they switched groups and did similar activities with the other class. 

Tom (Sky Class and S'math teacher)

In Tom’s first activity with Sky Class, each group was given a charge coming up with a name for their group by using the process of consensus.   The second week activity was taking the group hiking on the nature trail that surrounds the school. The second week, the students hiked down the gravel driveway to the entrance of the nature trail.  It was established in 2001 by a group of Upper School students. It is about a mile and a fourth long. It circles around in back of the Klopfer’s land, past the Davis horse farm to the Upper School baseball field and then follows the creek back to Lower School. The students hike the trail once in the fall, again in winter, and finally end with a spring hike.

Cooperation Squares (pictured above)

The final week only one group met for S’math.  This group participated in a physics experiment involving a can of olives.  They first predicted how far a can full of olives would roll when released at the top of an incline plane. Students placed stickers with their name on the floor of the multi to record their predictions. The experiment was done three times. Next, the can was emptied of its juice and the students were given an opportunity to change their predictions and experiments were repeated. Some were surprised that the empty can did not roll as far. Finally, the can was emptied of its olives. After students counted how many olives were in the can, they changed their predictions and the now empty can was released to roll down the inclined plane three times. Students who wished were also allowed to taste the olives at the conclusion of the experiment.

When Tom worked with River Class, rather than deciding on group names, the students created a birthday graph of all the students in their class.  He then went on and did the hike and olive experiment during the next two sessions.

Cooperation Squares (pictured above)

This week the Tuesday and Thursday S’math groups were merged with the half of River and half of Sky on each day. The students participated in an activity called “Cooperation Squares.” Students worked in groups of five to cooperate to put together five squares from pieces of poster board. The challenge was that each student had to try to complete one square while starting with pieces that would not make a square. Squares could only be completed by sharing, yet they were not allowed to talk, take pieces from others, or communicate by gestures. They could only give pieces to others. They had to work hard at this challenge!

This week we formed new S’math groups, two for Tuesday and two for Thursday. Each group is comprised of half River students and half  Sky students. As before, students will work a few weeks with one teacher, and then switch to work with the other teacher.

Abby (Sky Class, Spanish, and S'math teacher)

In Abby’s set of S’math groups with River Class, the first activity focused on probability. The kids played three different games to create, observe, gather and record data. The first game is a frog race game called “Hop to the Pond” where the kids worked with a partner using one die. We discussed the die and how numbers are represented in dots. We made predictions about the frogs that would win before we began the game. After taking a few turns, we discussed changing our predictions based on the new data we had created. Some kids changed their predictions since some of the frogs gained a lead in the race by having their number come up on the die and some chose not to change their predictions. The kids played the game with a partner and recorded the frog winner for each game on a graph on the board. We talked about the results and the probability associated with rolling certain numbers using one die.

For the second session, we used two dice and added six more frogs to the race. The kids made some thoughtful observations and conclusions based on the changes with the probability of the numbers when a second die was added. We recorded the whole group data on a graph and compared it to our first graph with six frogs and noted reasons for the change in frogs that were more likely to win (or lose) in the races.

The third activity for this set of classes was called “Scatter Beans” and we continued to make predictions about probability and added the challenge of mental math calculation through this game. The game consisted of a basket of beans (or pebbles) that have one side colored solid red or labeled with a red star and one side blank. Point values were given to the different bean color options. The students in pairs or trios, dropped the basket three times for each of their turns and had to find the sum and keep a mental running count of their points for all of their three drops on each turn. We again completed a group graph with our results of the points generated on each student’s turn and talked about the chances of possible outcomes for each set of turns.

The kids really enjoyed the games and participated in some very thoughtful and introspective conversations as a result of their engagement in the S’math games.
I am very excited about the experiences and experiments that I have planned for the next set of sessions. We will be focusing on making accurate predictions, the methods and components of conducting experiments and will be using some really fun and neat supplies.