My Grade 4 and 5 Blog

We have class blogs at YIS, and I try to write several posts a week to showcase learning, incite students or to share what fun we have in the classroom.

Our blog: blogs.yis.ac.jp/blumk

A few of my favorite posts:

A Trip to Ikea
As much as possible, we try to do authentic math inquiry, and shopping seemed like a perfect way to do it.

The PTSA granted each classroom money to enhance reading areas, and the goal was to have students involved in the process.

We began by thinking about what we wanted in a reading area and then planning a trip to Ikea. Students wanted a personal space for reading, some more comfortable pillows, a rug that wasn’t so old and chairs where they could sit and small tables.

Students planned the train and bus travel, figured out money everyone needed for lunch and had a list of items they agreed they wanted. We headed to Ikea Tuesday and had a great time shopping. They had calculators, measuring tape and constantly thought about their budget.

When we returned with furnishings, the students all put everything together. They didn’t follow directions, but jumped in and put together stools, tables and lamps. Everyone is excited by their reading space, their secret tent and our new class pet, Auggie.

Beliefs Walkabout

This week, grade 5 went out on a walkabout around Yokohama. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we’re lucky to have such an interesting city for walking. Past graveyards, churches, laundry hanging outside small buildings and plants tucked into every nook and cranny. We walked through Chinatown with its shark fin soup restaurants, temples and dragons.

Over three hours, we walked and took thousands of photos. We stopped and talked about beliefs and why we have those beliefs–why others might have those beliefs. Back in class, we’ve been printing photos and startin to have some good discussions about them. It’s been a fascinating journey so far. Students, what did you think of our walk around Yokohama? What did you learn? Was there a new aha moment?

Geometric Teapots

Week of June 12, 2012:

It all started with an idea… of collaboration about shape and space.

One of the finished packages

The goal was to create a 3-dimensional package that could safely hold a china teapot. Once complete, the teapot and package would be shipped to another international school.The skills were geometry and measurement. Students would need to design and create 2-dimensional shapes that would be put together to create a 3-dimensional package. They had to measure the teapot’s dimensions, the sides and then make sure it all fit together nicely. Time needed was about 3 weeks.

Susanna and Nyah investigating packaging

We started with a field trip to Motomachi, the local shopping street to check out packaging. What shape were packages?

Arief checking out packaging at Motomachi Union

Students discovered that packages came in all shapes and sizes, and they talked through the language: cylinders, rectangular prisms, hexagonal prisms, cubes..

Creating a design on paper

Students then came back to the classroom and began designing their idea. Using paper and pencil and then a computer application, Google Sketchup, they tried out their idea. Google Sketchup allowed them to expand their idea into 3-D and to see if their scheme would work.

Using Google Sketchup

After they created a unique, yet sturdy design, students began to sketch everything out on cardboard–each of the 2-D shapes. Slowly the package began to take shape.

Drawing it out on cardboard

One team’s design was a cylinder. Another one aimed for a octagonal prism. Another one thought they would go with a rectangular prism inside another rectangular prism. All were different. Finally, students painted and adding the finishing creative touches. They were all aiming for unique–something eye-catching.

Painting the teapot package

Students finished their packages, and everyone voted for the best 2 packages. The packages were sent to Sendai by mail, and…arrived several days later. Here are the winning teapot packages. Joseph, Kanna and Hanna’s cylindrical design with special inside stability. Unique, yet functional.

The winning teapot design
Another winning teapot design

And then there was Valdemar, Saya, and Brandon’s design. They went for a small package with another box inside. Light, yet sturdy. They also designed a logo.

We got the results today, June 14th. The teapots both arrived safely. The packages were barely dented. The students at Sendai International School reflected on the design through a video. A great project!

Students at Sendai International School reflecting on our teapot packages

Week of May 15, 2012: This week, one of our IT people, Aaron, came in to show students what makes up a computer. We’ve been studying natural resources during our unit on “How We Organize Ourselves,” and we started off the unit by thinking about where our “stuff” comes from.

Looking Inside a computer

Students, fascinated by the computer, wrote down that a computer has plastic and some metal, but they couldn’t figure out what else was inside the computer. So, we thought we’d take a look.

Examining motherboards

With an old computer in hand, Aaron came in with screwdrivers, and students began to dismantle the laptop. Out came the battery, the memory, the keyboard and then the entire back to reveal a lot of tiny compact boards with small pinpricks of copper that make it all work.

Unlocking the computer

Half an hour later, about 90% of the class was still fascinated by small wires and dots that looked like people. Recess came, and a small group of girls and boys stayed to take apart the screen and see the tiny camera. A lot of wows, oohs, aahs and the desire to take home souvenirs.

That’s What’s Inside

From there, we jumped into looking at where all that copper comes from in the world, everything that is made from copper, and some cons of mining for copper. An interesting spark.

Started on 11/11/11 and continuing through May, 2012:

On 11/11/11, students from grade 5 at Yokohama International School, took photos and videos of their day for the One Day on Earth global video compilation project. In that project, people from all over the world took photos and videos of something that happened on 11/11/11. One Day on Earth is now compiling a video of happenings from that day from all over the world.

Starting from the time they woke up to the time they went to sleep. Students from grade 5 took hundreds of photos and videos throughout the day of their different classes, recess, lunch, after school activities, etc… Then, with the help of our ICT facilitator, Elif, they compressed the footage into a 3 1/2 minute video. We submitted the video to One Day on Earth and are awaiting the full documentary next year.

In a weekend workshop about ICT and collaboration, another colleague and I came up with the idea of expanding this project to other international school students–to see how students around the world live their days. We also had a speaker earlier this year who speak about Third Culture kids and how kids all over the world in international schools have so many similarities and differences.

Hopefully, this video will be not only be a chance for students to share their school days with each other. It will also give students the opportunity to see how similar they are, and for those students who do move around a lot, a chance to see how similar it is, no matter where they are going.

International schools have some special students with unique talents and gifts, and they have a lot of experience to share. We hope that this project will bring those views and ideas together.

Here are the results on our Wiki: One Day in School: http://onedayinschool.wikispaces.com/

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