Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nespelem Shares Culture With PDS

We have had the privilege to work with a Native American school on an Indian Reservation in Coulee Dam, WA for the past several weeks where we have collaborated on our writing, shared about the community in which we live, and have learned about perspectives as we have become more familiar with a culture that was once thought to be very different from our own. There was a connectedness that PDS boys from Memphis, TN realized existed between two different cultures: the same interests in sports, technology, the love of outdoors, and music.

During our recent skype with Nespelem School, PDS got to experience traditional dances that are a big part of the Native American culture. The PDS students saw many styles of Native American dance as well as stunning regalia that were handmade and in some cases passed down to a new generation of Native American dancers. The PDS boys were able to watch intricate dance moves and listen to a culture of spiritual music in which the sound of drums lulled them into a trance. It didn't last when the drums picked up the rhythm and found its way through the spirit of the boys who found themselves forming a circle trying to mimic the moves of the dances they just saw. They soon realized that the dances that seemed so effortless actually required a lot of practice and skill. It was such an awe inspiring moment where two different cultures were coming together as one.

We are so grateful for our new friends at Nespelem School who have enriched our lives with a beautiful culture, allowed us to make global connections, and changed our perspectives about life of Native Americans.

Check out the photos taken by Nespelem School and posted to whatelse wiki.

Also, read a fabulous blog post that discusses Nespelem School's experiences collaborating with the 5th grade PDS boys!

Seconds After The Call

Here is a link to Edtechtalk where they interview Sheri Edward with Nespelem School about the amazing work that she is doing.

What's Your Mindset

We have been discussing mindset in the classroom throughout the year, and I found a great critical thinking activity to put the students' mindset to the test.


This problem solving game had no directions, and the students had to use cause and effect to get through each world and move on to the next. I wanted to share the comments and I am going to categorize them according to mindsets, fixed and growth:

Fixed Mindset Comments:
What's the point?
I don't get this.
This is too hard
It's impossible
Oh my gosh! What do you do?
This doesn't make sense
I could beat this if I wanted to
Fixed Mindset Actions:
A boy threw his hands up.
There was huffing and puffing.
Pouting took place.
Deep sighs were heard.
Heavy typing was heard as if a forceful stroke on the keyboard would solve the problem.
Hitting the desk out of frustration was seen.

Growth Mindset Comments:
Yes! I did it!
You just gotta think and you can do it.
It makes me feel good when I finally do something.
yea! I accomplished it, I so accomplished it.
That level 3 was really hard but I got through it.
This takes a lot of patience.
This is awesome!

These comments reflected the features of the boys' thinking which are not giving up, asking a lot questions, generating multiple ideas and explanations, being a critical thinker, and not stopping or giving up too soon. In the book The Thinking Classroom it states, "Good thinking is a mind-set, a collection of attitudes and inclinations with which one approaches thinking." It goes on to point out that "students have misconceptions about good thinkers, often equating good thinking with 'being smart.'" They need to realize that in order to be a good thinker, they have to learn that it is a matter of a disposition and not intellect alone.

Friday, March 6, 2009

How is the Structure of a Sentence Like a House?

When learning about sentence structure and the importance of always writing complete thoughts, the students were asked to apply their knowledge of how a sentence functions to that of a house. The students were given the freedom to discuss capitalization, subject/verb, phrases, punctuation, etc.

The students were each given a sticky note where they wrote their thoughts as they made their comparisons of how the structure of a sentence is like a house. Then, they placed their notes on the house that was created out of poster board and displayed on the wall.

The following are the responses that were shared:

*A chimney casting out smoke is like a pronoun casting out an overused noun in a sentence.
*The structure of a good sentence is like the base of a house: it's strong, firm, and well constructed.
*The walls separate rooms as punctuation separates sentences.
*The front door of a house prevents intruders like end punctuation of a sentence prevents a new idea from intruding.
*Prepositional phrases of sentences are like the colorful painting on the walls because without them, the house is dull.
*Fixing a fragments is like fixing a hole in a house: once repaired, they both are complete.
*A run-on is like too much furniture of the house that soon creates overcrowding.
*A house is like a complete thought because they both need structure to support them.
*The structure of a sentence and a house must be strong or they will fall apart.
*You have to have a plan to build a house as you have to have a plan to build a sentence.
*A variety of decorations adds details to a house like a prepositional phrase adds details to a sentence.
*A subject and verb is the frame of the sentence as the two by fours create a frame for a house.
*Words stack up to build a sentence as bricks stack up to build a house.
*The paint, shutters, and gardens are like adjectives in a sentence.
*Prepositional phrases are like the decor of the house, they both add detail.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Showcasing Tech Tools With Prezi

Where to Begin with Blooms Taxonomy

Click on the Wordles for a link to our class wiki page on Blooms Taxonomy.

It was once thought that students needed to have a strong foundation in Bloom's lower levels of thinking before they could analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the information at the higher levels.

I recently read an article "Measuring Skills for the 21st Century" from that explained how complex thinking and analytical skills are a part of learning at every stage of development. Where we once thought that learning had to be a linear process from lower to higher levels has now been proven otherwise. The idea from Bloom's Taxonmy, "You can't apply until you comprehend, or you must understand before you analyze" has been revised by a group who has studied these ideas and discovered that these processes can be learned simultaneously or in a different order. In order to create a solid foundation in each subject area, knowledge and thinking must be interwoven. For a student to be able to think analytically would make it easier to obtain even the most basic skills.

The article mentions a nonprofit group Core Knowledge Foundation and how their ideas, "support the point that learning factual knowledge and the ability to apply, analyze, and solve problems go hand-in-hand।" The question important is it to spend valuable class time memorizing information that is readily available on the Internet? The message that is being conveyed is that we should be spending our time wisely and teaching the students to be thinkers, researchers, decision-makers, etc. and they will have the "know how" to be problem-solvers with any level of information that is given.

This is a site that I ran across that ties in technology with Bloom's Taxonomy. It is pretty interesting so check it out. Digital Bloom's Taxonomy