There are 46 First Nations in Alberta. We have been learning about the culture of First Nations people in our province. Our project work has allowed students to be active in developing research strategies.
This week students worked collaboratively to organize and present their information. They created posters that they will show to the class. The posters form the basis for their presentations. Listening to the opinions and ideas of others, working collaboratively towards a goal and demonstrating an ability to compromise and find roles within groups were skills students worked on. For the presentations that will take place following the March break, each individual within the research group will report on a different aspect of the First Nation they have been researching. When the students present before the class each person will have a role. Students have come up with unique and novel ways to present their information such as incorporating videos, using music, gestures and referring back to the poster. The process has not always been easy, but it is part of the process of developing skills of cooperation, conflict resolution and consensus building that will benefit students as they move through their education and in the future when they have their own careers.
A number of groups were able to film themselves presenting (i.e. a practice presentation). After presenting they viewed the videos and rated their performance on the scale seen below:
It is hoped that by viewing themselves, students can pinpoint areas where they did well and likewise where they feel they could improve. They were encouraged to watch themselves and be critical about how well they could be heard, whether or not they were facing the audience, using gestures and if there were miscues or instances of indecision. Students have created scripts that include a beginning, middle and end. Many students are keen to present in front of the class even if they are nervous about their performance. By watching themselves, and reflecting on their performance when they were not in front of the class (and presumably a little more relaxed), it is hoped that they will be able to present to everyone in a confident manner.
I was very pleased to meet the majority of parents / guardians of the children I teach at Parent/Teacher conferences on March 22 ~ March 23. Over the break I would encourage students to read 20 minutes per night. Setting aside a specific time for reading is a often a good way to encourage development of reading skills.
Here are some tips for parents reading aloud with children:
In Social Studies, students learned about natural resources this week. In Alberta we have different types of energy reserves such as wind power, coal, oil sands, natural gas, solar power and even power generated by manure. We discussed how the Alberta oil sands are an integral part of the economy of our province. Students reflected on the benefits of this resource as well as the controversies surrounding its ongoing development. We learned that much of the infrastructure around extracting and upgrading bitumen is located near Fort McMurray in northeast Alberta. Alberta's forests and especially our agricultural resources are important too. Alberta has 22.5 percent of Canada's land suitable for agriculture. This is more land than any other province except for Saskatchewan. More than 20 million hectares of land are used for farming and ranching in Alberta and many Albertans work on farms or in jobs related directly to agriculture. Among the crops grown in Alberta are wheat, canola, potatoes and sugar beets.
Spelling quiz - Mon. March 19. Spelling words appear below:
Homework: Assigned Tues. March 13. Due: Fri. March 16. On a piece of lined paper, please list Alberta's natural resources. Below are two items that may assist in creating this list. Students are likewise encouraged to ask parents/guardians about the types of natural resources known to them in the province. Agriculture, forestry and mineral/fossil fuel extraction are major economic activities in the province:
On Monday of this week students had a spelling test. The focus of the weekly spelling word list was identifying and knowing the meaning of some frequently used suffixes. Through this study, students further developed their ability to apply knowledge of root words, and suffixes to understand complex words in context. As part of our weekly word work students write sentences using these words. On Tuesday when students got their tests back they edited and revised their sentences through feedback given by the teacher. They concentrated on meaning as well as use of punctuation, capitals, subject-verb agreement and proper verb tenses. Many students have made great strides in writing more complex sentences with fewer errors.
Throughout the week students were given time to complete the first portion of their First Nations project work. In this portion of the project work students have been locating information to answer research questions. They have used a variety of sources, such as maps, websites and the textbook. In small groups of four students they have been working collaboratively to communicate ideas and information in a posters. Students have been selecting appropriate visuals, to add interest to their posters and to engage their intended audience of peers. The due date for the posters was extended from Thursday to Friday.
On Thursday we began to discuss natural resources in Alberta. A major focus of Social Studies is learning to appreciate the variety and abundance of natural resources in Alberta. Students learned that we have both renewable and non-renewable resources that are important to Alberta's economy. We began to talk about oil production in Alberta and the importance of agriculture. Students began a mapping assignment based on the map of natural resources that appears below:
In Humanities, students worked on story writing, word work and their research project about First Nations. Based on student feedback Mr. Brewer created a rubric for the project work:
The highlighted areas in the rubric above were the focus for this week's work. Students collaborated with others in their group to achieve the group goal of designing posters featuring their research about First Nations. They began by producing rough plans of how they thought the posters ought to look (i.e. layout). They used brainstorming, to organize and carry out this aspect of the project work. They based their plans at least in part on posters they had seen made by students in previous years that were used as exemplars. The rubric allowed them to use established criteria to determine their progress and the areas where they could improve (e.g. make the title larger and more colourful so it can be seen more easily). Next week students will evaluate usefulness, relevance and completeness of their gathered information. They will address information gaps (e.g. if the research told a lot of information about clothing, but neglected to explain about shelter) As we progress through this work, we will focus more and more on presentation techniques. A more detailed version of this rubric, that Mr. Brewer will using when evaluating the work appears below:
Students continued to write their legendary stories too. They agreed that stories ought to have a beginning, middle and end and that there should be a climax in action. They thought mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, and spelling) ought to be important as well. Setting, use of interesting words, and longer sentences that include red flag words and phrases were likewise features of the story that students agreed mattered for the legend to be of very good quality. To avoid repeating the same words over and over again it was agreed that students should use 'word referents' as well. Mr. Brewer will use this student feedback to create a rubric such as the one for the First Nations project.
The focus of word work this week was on the use of suffixes. One of our reading goals is to expand vocabulary. A strategy that we identified for doing this is to determine the meaning of words using prefixes and suffixes. Students used the words in context by writing their definitions and finding synonyms. They alphabetized the words and wrote sentences using these words:
Homework: Reading paragraphs. Assigned on March 2, 2018. Due March 5, 2018.
Spelling test: Mon. March 5.