And so it begins.

I have not written in over a week as I have been consumed with back to school preparation. Today was the first day of school and I am exhausted, but I wanted to take a few moments to highlight what I did with my classes.

This year I am teaching grades 6, 7, and 8 science (two classes each) and one grade 8 math class. Being the first day we had a modified schedule and I did not teach all of my classes.

After organizing lockers and reviewing essential and emergency routines, I had a few minutes left with my first class, a grade 7 science class. I decided to do Alicia Johal’s personality beakers. Over the weekend I had prepared one of my own to show as a sample. I intend to do this activity with each of my science classes at some point this week.

I did not teach a math lesson as the grade 8 class had an introduction to the MYP Community project during my time with them. I had one grade 8 science class today, and I did a few activities with them. First we did Dogs and Turnips. In this activity there are 23 words in an envelope and those 23 words can be formed into a sentence that describes a scenario. Without looking, students pick out five words and try to determine the scenario from those five words. They then pick five more words and decide if their original idea has changed. If so, they write their idea for the new scenario. They repeat this process with another five words, and then finally with the last 8 words. We compared what different groups had hypothesized and discussed similarities and differences. Next we did the Square Puzzle Challenge. Students were given five puzzle pieces, one of which is a square. First I asked them to show me a square in the easiest possible way. Most students quickly identified the square puzzle piece. Then I asked them to put the square puzzle piece aside and make a square with the remaining pieces. Most students were able to form the square fairly quickly and I allowed the others to “call a friend” for a hint. Finally I asked them to make a new square, this time incorporating the square puzzle piece. This one was much more difficult for them, and many more students needed hints. At the end we discussed the similarities and differences about both activities and we connected it to how ideas change as new information is presented in the science lab.

My last class of the day was a grade 6 science class. After spending some group circle time with them (I had never taught them before and needed to learn their names!) we did an activity called Order Up!. Sometime in the summer I came across three booklets of instant challenges, and this activity comes from Practice Set A. In this activity I prepared number cards from 1 to 6 and a variety of different colour squares that were cut from construction paper. To add more of a challenge, I used different shades of some of the colours (light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, etc). These were set up behind a screen (I used about six privacy shields to make the screen). I put the students into groups and told them that they would have to find a way to communicate the order of four colours to the rest of the group, but without speaking. I gave them five minutes at the beginning to come up with a communication system for their group. One at a time, each group sent up a person to look at the order of the colours behind the screen. That person then had one minute to communicate the order to their team and have the team guess the colours. I had prepared 10 different colours and so I changed the colours between groups’ turns. Sometimes I changed all of the colours and sometimes I kept a few of the old ones, but in different positions, and mixed in some new ones. During this first round only two of the five groups were able to communicate all four colours in the correct order. Then I gave all groups another few minutes to revise their communication system and we repeated the activity, but this time I had them guess six colours instead of four and I gave all groups an additional twenty seconds. They were much more successful this time and they came up with some interesting and creative communication systems. They had even found a way to communicate light shades vs dark shades. We debriefed the activity and discussed its purpose (team building, problem solving, communication and language) before I dismissed them for the day.

All in all it was a great first day. I hope yours was, as well.


Posted by Ilana Cyna

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