5 Stars and Two Thumbs Up!

One is rated by others as he rates himself.-French Proverb

Ratings…an important part of our culture… They tell us what movie to see, which books to read, what car to buy, and what restaurants to eat in.  Making informed choices is part of being a responsible adult.  The more an item costs, the more likely we are to pay attention to reviews and ratings.

We had a lengthy discussion one day about the merits of some of our apps.  They liked this app because it did certain things or didn’t like that app because it didn’t do other things.  They expressed their ideas about what they would change or add to apps and we talked about how some apps are free and some are not.  I showed them a screen shot from the app store and they asked me about the stars and what they meant. We talked about how people gave the stars as ratings for how much they liked or didn’t like an app.  Then we looked at Amazon.com and looked at some children’s books they knew.  We saw they had stars also.  Of course, they wanted to channel their own Siskel and Ebert and rate their favorite apps.

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So there you have it.  Kids really do have their own opinions about what they like and don’t like.  They know why also.  Part of giving kids voice and choice is really giving them the “voice” part.  Learning how to articulate what they want, what they like, what they don’t want or like is an important skill.  We have had to work hard to move away from liking something simply because it’s “cool”.  In giving voice to a writing piece, they are also expanding vocabulary and ideas.  Writing for a variety of purposes is  an important skill.  There’s no time like the present to begin!

Today we will do exciting new things.  Let’s get to it!

 

The Project’s the Thing!

Doing projects really gives people self-confidence.  -Martha Stewart

The closer we get to the end of the year, the more restless my students become.  With only 16 days remaining,  you can imagine things are getting a little crazy.  Trying to keep things at a medium roar is becoming more and more challenging.  To ease us out of this school year and to maintain my sanity, we are turning toward projects of student interest.  This seems to be working (for now) and the kids are engaged (mostly).

The learning focus this week is pirates.  Living in a city rich with pirate history, we are learning about their life style and their place in the history of Charleston.  We have traced our bodies, cut them out and decorated them as pirates, we have written about them, read about them, and role-played.

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In addition to all of the pirate work, we have some exploring augmented reality with Chromville app.  We downloaded the Waterville page and they have been working on this.  They took a screen shot and wrote about their image.

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Some are working on Book Creator projects.  While these are still in progress, one student wrote this in her free time about her work. You can see her book here.  It is saved as a PDF.

My Work

At this point in the year, my students are asking daily if they can research topics of their choosing, make books, and create artifacts.  Their interest is eager and genuine.  It gives them self confidence to work on projects both independently and collaboratively.  They understand the importance of documenting their learning and they are eager to do so.  I am certain that next week, when we start working on dinosaurs, there will be a multitude of projects going.

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Going with the flow is often far easier than going against the tide.  If exploring their interests and working on projects for the next 16 days keeps them engaged, then we will keep on keeping on.  It may also prevent me from having to buy a big bottle of Excedrin to keep in my desk drawer!

16 days…we can do this!

Today we will do exciting new things.  Let’s get to it!