A Sixth Grade Window

"The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows." ~Sydney J. Harris

Beginning Construction

To investigate geometric concepts, we are building a city.  Each group builds a different section of a city and must incorporate many geometric concepts including lines, angles, polygons, polyhedrons, non-polyhedrons and more!  The city will look really cool when we are finished because parts of the city are 3-dimensional.

Please take a moment to answer our new poll on the right– we are going to add the data to our city project.

We also added a new book, “Because of Mr. Terupt” by Rob Buyea to our Shelfari on the left…we latched on to this book after reading the first line.  The first sentence starts out “It’s our bad luck to have teachers in this world,…”  What?!?  The first chapter definitely has our attention.

Students – check out this video that Pierson and I made to help us review some basic geometric ideas that we talked about yesterday.  We are going to be adding these concepts to our city today! :)  You should have these mastered!

Steady Work…

After being off for 4 days, the students worked really hard yesterday…tried a lot of new strategies, displayed critical thinking skills, and concentrated on the tasks at hand.  First, we tried a new app for answering multiple choice questions called eclicker.  This app is free to all students, I did pay $9.99 for the eclicker host site so that I could enter my questions and “beam them up” to the students.  I type the questions and answer choices beforehand, students open the app, and one by one the questions I choose will appear on their screen.  After they have entered their answers, a graph appears that illustrates our class percentage for each answer choice.  The students cannot see names, just class averages.  I can see each student’s answer choice and I can email myself a score sheet for grading purposes.  This app would be a “substitution” type activity…but, it leads to a lot of discussion of answer choices, lightening fast feedback, and a little motivation vs. the dreaded bubble sheet …and it is environmentally friendly. ;)


Even though this article uses examples from an upper level science course…I thought some of his examples for ways he uses clickers to elicit higher-level thinking to be very interesting.  I like the predicting using clickers and the group opinion polls.

Yesterday, we just experimented with getting to know the app, I see solid uses for it in the future…

In other news, we are excited about trying out a class blogging challenge starting March 1st   http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/

…and we are working on writing an informative essay that we would like to then turn into a digital essay!

More to come…

The “Eyes” Have It…

Today was one of my favorite science lessons!  We dissected cow eyes.  During our “Light and Sound” unit we discuss the parts of the eye, how light enters the eye, reflects, refracts, etc.  Prior to the dissection, students studied a great website where they explore and learn about the dissection of a cow’s eye.

We performed a variety of activities about light and the eye before doing the dissection…students were very eager for the eyes to arrive today!

For our measurement unit, we predicted how many grams a cow’s eye may weigh and how many centimeters in diameter a cow’s eye would measure.  They were very excited to see the real thing after talking about it for so many days.

I love watching the looks on the students’ faces when I watch the videos that were taken.  I can’t wait to debrief the experience tomorrow!

Video Disclaimer:  1.  No cows were injured for this experiment.  2.  All students could opt out if they did not feel comfortable with the dissection.  3.  I am so not an expert scientist. ;)

Cow’s Eye Video Clips

“Love is in the Air”

Valentine’s Day is a day to be collaborative, right!  :)  In math, we used an app called Groupboard.  This app is a blank whiteboard, but the catch is that it allows a group of people to chat and draw together anywhere on the internet in real time.  The free version allows up to 5 users to draw simultaneously in one group.  The students were working on what we call “math squares review” problems.  I assigned each student to a group on the board, they did not know who was in their group at first and they had to silently solve the problem together on the white board.  At first it was difficult because students were writing and erasing at the same time, but as we worked through the problems, it became great collaboration.

I think this may work even better with more difficult multi-step problems.  When we reviewed the answers as a whole group, all students had a great grasp of each step of the solution.  They really had to think while watching what was being written on their board, to know what was incorrect, to know when to write a particular step, etc.  It was also a very “safe” way to make a mistake versus going to the front of the room on the board when students may not feel very confident yet.  All students participated, it was a very productive introduction.  We could even write on the board with students from other classrooms, schools, states!  Nice job, guys…my favorite part of this video is when I hear you congratulating each other. :)


…AND even sixth graders love a “SWEET” day every once in awhile!

It was a Zoo on Friday!

Not really, but we’re building a zoo.  Friday afternoon we started a measurement investigation that requires students to build a 50,000 square foot zoo area.  There are many specifications required for the zoo.  Areas and perimeters that are specific to each type of animal…specific angles are required in the sidewalks, water features and more.  Students work in groups to create a blueprint of the zoo and record all of their measurements.  They were really grappling with how to scale the measurements to fit on graph paper.  Here is a short video clip of a minute of our work.  Just experimenting with video and editing, need to work on the volume.  Meghan, you are a much better videographer than I am. :)

I found two free apps to help us with graphing and measurement.  “Angle Meter” uses the camera, you can place it on top of a graph and it will automatically measure the angle…an interactive protractor.

Another app, called “Quick Graph”, will be a great review for what we just finished studying in algebra.  You can enter any equation and it will graph the equation for you.  This will be a quick way to review linear and non-linear functions.


Class, remember this weekend you were to do a little investigating…trying to figure out how to represent the area of our zoo on the graph paper.  And you were to take a peek at the “Classics” you have on your iPads…let’s talk about the assortment on Monday.  If you are curious, you can check the lexiles at http://www.lexile.com.

Oh, and some of you were wondering if we would ever have a visitor from another country…looks like we did!  Woohoo!   Check out the poll on the right too, I hope on Monday all of you choose “within the last 24 hours”. ;) (Jessie, your comment was very funny, strategy huh??)

Have a great weekend!  See you Monday.

Reflections 2/8

It is very exciting to log in to the computer tonight and be able to “see” students doing their homework, talking through math problems…amazing!

Here Padon is working through turning an improper fraction into a mixed number.  Wonderful job, Padon…I’m proud of you!  Class, Pierson (my personal assistant ;)) noticed that Padon may not have recorded the correct final answer…what do you think?

Today we also discovered a great way to record and organize notes.

We read a nonfiction article about Amelia Earhart and each student chose what they thought to be the MVP (most valuable point).  They recorded their MVPs in Evernote.  It’s cool because we found out that we can arrange our responses, thoughts, vocabulary, notes, etc. in a very organized way.  Today we just opened a notebook for “Reading Nonfiction”.









Sixth graders, I got to thinking tonight that when you shared in your small groups we should have recorded the other student responses in our notebook…then we really would have had a great outline of the article.  What did you think of the way we shared out today>> Student 1 reads his MVP, student 2 responds, student 3 responds, student 4 responds, then student 1 defends/explains his or her point and the process moves to student 2…were you able to keep from “crosstalking”?   I noticed many of you had the same MVP, what do you think that means?

We are also starting a new study in Measurement…if anyone knows of an app or website that would be helpful, we would love for you to send it our way!

Can you “Explain Everything” today?

Today we are going to “explain everything”! :)  Take a look at this quick tutorial that shows us the features of the app known as “Explain Everything”.  Last night, Pierson wanted to help me use this app to show how we figure out what fraction and percent of the school year has passed.  Cool, huh!  We made a few mistakes. ;)  How can you use this app to help you better understand the math lesson today? Can you explain to me how you figured out the answer to our math squares?  I can’t wait to see your explanations, maybe you can post them on your blog.