11 February 2013

A somewhat quieter than normal day

Today was a school day! Yes! Why did only 14 of my 22 students showed up for class today? I'm kidding, right? Ah, no, not kidding. Yes, I had a lovely day with the 14 students who did come to school today.

First of all, why were there so many away? Well, I don't live in China, but there are many people of Chinese descent in Cambodia, and both yesterday and today the markets were closed (apart from all the people who moved as much of their stock as they could outside or who had outside stalls) along with many businesses for Chinese New Year! Last year we closed too, but with so many holidays it was decided not to take this one (which wasn't compulsory like some of the others). Unfortunately for me, our local photocopy shop was one of the business that was closed, so I had to do a little improvisation, but we got there. After school I went to a big photocopy shop a little further away as was suitably impressed with the speed and quality of their work and the price was the same as well. The material I was copying was all designed to be copied, so no problems with copyright.

As I knew last week that I would have three students absent all week this week, plus one more definitely away today and tomorrow, I decided to do a mini-unit on Chimpanzees this week. It fits in perfectly with our Biomes curriculum content, and the material I discovered incorporates maths, science and language arts, so I'm not feeling bad about diverging from core curriculum for a week. Pity I wasn't more organised with my printing and copying.

Something I like to do, and which was suggested in the curriculum guide I'm using, is to start the unit by creating a KWL chart. For the non-teachers among you K = Know, W = Want (to know) and L= Learned. Today we did the K and W sections. At the end of the week we will complete the L. It's always fun doing this, and I usually discover some interesting knowledge already existing among my students as well as some erroneous knowledge. That was certainly true today. In doing the K section, I don't discard anything, but rather hope that, as the unit proceeds, the students will discover the errors themselves. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. Mostly it does.

So just what did my students think they knew about chimpanzees. Here's a snapshot of what I got on the whiteboard.

As for their questions. Wow! These kids had some amazing questions. Once again, I try to record them all, eliminating overlap as far as I can. Here's what I got down, and they actually had a few more which just wouldn't fit.

So what do you think of those questions? Aren't these kids great thinkers? I'm really looking forward to the rest of this mini-unit. I already know we're going to answer a lot of their questions. Hopefully they'll be encouraged to go searching on their own for those which we don't answer.

Tomorrow I plan to create a poster with this information, leaving lots of space for the L section. On Friday I'll give students small pieces of paper in various shapes so they can record what they have learned and put it all together. You might want to check back next week to see the final product.

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