Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning - #3 (The Aha Board)

In my first post on Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning I skimmed over the concept of The Aha Board.  In the book Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooks by Kellie Marcarelli she talks about these boards being used to hold the students' learning on the major concepts of each unit. We have modified this concept a bit to meet our needs within the process of  Challenge Based Learning (CBL) . What we have done is basically created an interactive challenge map or web. We have put the challenge in the middle and taken large Post -Its and wrote a Guiding Question on each. As students have made their way through their research they have written on smaller Post-Its the things they have learned and how they learned that under each Guiding Question.

    Oneco's Gifted Program has been working with CBL for about four years now and each year our process has become more and more refined. This would also included training students to take more ownership in the CBL process itself.  In the past, my students were able to effectively carry out CBL Challenges, but struggled to see where they were in the process especially in the Guiding Questions, Guiding Resources and Guiding Activities Components. Although, we had attempted to keep track of the process through packets and other such formats, these avenues had left us frustrated at times. It might have been that my elementary school students needed something a bit more concrete, maybe they feel more accountable now that the people entering our classroom can see their work in progress or they just enjoy putting Post-Its on the cabinet. My guess it a is combination of all those things and that is okay with me since The Aha-Boards effectiveness has certainly been AMAZING.  Since they have been introduced students have been using the evidence demonstrated on their group's board to discuss the quality of the research being done and what their next steps in the process should be. We were not seeing this type of metacognition before the Aha-Boards were introduced and my students have learn to depend on them.

Last week a few of my students and I were discussing the need to reflect on strategies that we use in hopes that they will become part of our learning toolbox. To prove my point, I pulled up my recent blog posts on our use of Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning. After reading my first post, these students turned on me a bit and wanted to know why I had just skimmed over The Aha-Boards. Honestly, they got just a little heated about my neglect in this matter.  Then these eight year olds went on to explain why they felt they were important, why we need them and why others should hear about them. I had to promise that within the next couple of weeks I would remedy the situation. I have done my best to cover everything we talked about in this post and I do hope I have done them proud. However, I promise if I missed something they will let me know. 

It is my hope to one day have these Aha-Boards go digital, but I truly felt that we need this concert model first.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning - #2

In my last post I spoke about how we were  implementing Interactive Notebooks into our Challenge Based Learning (CBL) process so I thought spend some time demonstrating what this could look like in an elementary school classroom. This may turn into a series of post, but for now here is a lesson done with my second grade students in the midst of their CBL Challenge: To help keep Oneco Elementary School's Campus clean and beautiful

The strategies I present in this video have been taken and modified from Discovery Education's - Spotlight on Strategies (S.O.S) Blog. I was introduced to this incredible series about two months ago and it is quickly becoming one of my go to resources when dealing with multimedia.

Please make sure to watch all the way to the end to hear a couple of students discuss their metacognitive thinking. 

Here is the blank graphic organizer I use with my kindergarten and first graders. As we make our way through different videos we use Post-its in each section to hold our thoughts. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning

The idea of Interactive Notebooks was a bit new to me this year and there has been a steep learning curve. Actually, this has been the piece I have been looking for awhile to round out our Challenge Based Learning (CBL) process. The CBL Framework gives us a great set of procedures. Then the Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels' book Inquiry Circles in Action:Comprehension and Collaboration helps guide the mini-lessons that need to be taught during our process. However, for us it just seemed like there was still a piece missing in our process and I now believe that interactive notebooks maybe our answer. These notebooks are set up to  provide a way for students to document, keep track of, and reflect throughout their process.

I will admit by the end of the first quarter this year I found myself a bit overwhelm by the implementation of Interactive Notebooks. There was just so much information out there that I was having trouble focusing on exactly how to go about getting started. At that point, I decided to focus on the book Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooks by Kellie Marcarelli and then pull in other resources. I did this for several reasons:

1) The fact that The CBL Framework relates so closely to the scientific method. Some of my students spent time to compare and contrasting the two processes in this post Comparing and Contrasting CBL and The Scientific Method.

2) This book goes into the nuts and bolts of using interactive notebooks (hows and whys).

3) The fact the author based the procedures on the strategies described in the book Classroom Instruction that Works by Marzano, Pickering and Pollock and the procedures are research based. 

In the past, I thought and behaved as if it was my role to dictate what gets done when, but I have come to realize that way of teaching was hurting my students in the long run. My students were not being allowed to think for themselves or able to move to the next step in a CBL challenges (or really any activity) without me telling them what needed to be done. Truth is, if we want students to grow up to be independent problem solvers we are going to have to let go of the reigns some (even with procedures). With the Interactive Notebook, Aha Boards and task list my students are really gaining independence in these areas. As well as, improving the quality of their reflective thinking. This implementation is slowing down our CBL process, but I believe this is time well spent.

If you are interested in following along in our process you can find us here: 

Grade 3 - Tuesday

CBL Challenge: 
To encourage better cooperation at recess.  

Grade 4/5 - Thursday 

CBL Challenges:

The Thunder Katz: To work to improve morning snacks. 
Gummy Bears: To prevent and eliminate bullying on Oneco's Campus.  
Wolfpack: To promote students spending more time appreciating the nature on campus.