Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How We Organize Ourselves with Maps

Central Idea: Maps help us organize and understand the world around us.

We began our inquiry by unscrambling the words of our trandisciplinary theme: How We Organize Ourselves.

Students considered how our classroom is organized and then took action to improve its organization.

The next day we went on a treasure hunt. Some students had a set of written instructions and some had a hand-drawn map of the school to help them find the treasure.

Afterwards we reflected on each tool with three guiding questions:

What was helpful about this tool?

What was challenging about using this tool?

How could we improve this tool?

This helped us to consider how maps and instructions can help us by giving us information, but also to focus our thinking on how we might communicate information clearly on a map.

Finally we thought about which tool we preferred. Students headed to the corner of the room with the tool displayed and gave evidence to explain why they thought either the map or the directions were more useful. They finished the sentence starter: "I would prefer this tool because" as they pair-shared their ideas with their classmates before summarizing and sharing with the whole group.

Thinking Skills

One thinking skill that we focused on during this unit was reasoning with evidence. During our guided reading time we discussed character traits as ways of describing characters "on the inside." Examples of these are: adventurous, thoughtful or jealous.  As we read books together we thought about what evidence from the book justified our claim that a character was, for instance, caring. What did character do or say that makes you think they are caring? This skill  was also practiced by reading "Wanted" posters and trying to match the character traits with the character based on evidence from the text. 

After exploring the examples of other authors we wrote our own "Wanted" posters.  We chose a character and a trait to demonstrate. First, we planned our writing by thinking about what evidence would show that the character could be described by this trait. What might the character do or say? 

Adventure Stories- Creating Our Main Character

An important reading behaviour is to make inferences from the pictures and text in a book. We continued to practice this by making inferences about an imaginary character based on objects. We looked at a group of objects that belonged to the character. After we made inferences about her as a group, we tried to sort them into categories to make some decisions about our character. What was she like? Where is she from? What does she like to do? Finally,  the character of Sonya was created, an 8 year old girl who loves solving problems and travelling. Sonya is the main character in a story that students are writing individually, but will combine together to create an amazing adventure story- more to come on this later!

Numeracy- Subtraction and Flexibility

When we are thinking about numbers, students are encouraged to think flexibly. In our discussions we share our thinking around numbers as well as our strategies for solving problems. This way, we are exposed to many creative ways to think and manipulate numbers, and can then discover more efficient strategies for different problems. We often communicate our strategies as group, in a pair, or individually.

We are seeing how addition and subtraction are related by thinking about number sentences/ number situations as wholes and parts. To experience this concept students work with fact families as well as played "Number Cover Up." In this game one part of the whole number is covered up. Students then choose from a variety of addition and subtractions strategies to find out the value of the covered up part.

To improve our fluency with subtraction we played card games with a partner.

Where and When We Use Maps

Students brainstormed all of the different places and situations that they use maps. Afterwards, they extended this and considered the purpose for using the map in the situation. From this initial activity we discovered that we think maps are mainly used to find things, such  as hotels, flight gates or people's houses. 

We used the thinking routine "See, Think, Wonder" to observe some maps closely and really notice their features.

To learn more about different types of maps and their uses, we invited in some guest speakers who told us how they use maps in their daily lives.

We also tried to distinguish between the different types of maps from our collections.

Then, we went on a map scavenger hunt, where we had to read different types of maps (political, thematic, physical, etc.) to find information. This gave us some experiences using maps for different purposes.

Ms. Shakhnoza helped us to find where we live in Tashkent, using Google Maps. She also taught us about how the street names have changed in Tashkent over the years.