Thursday, 28 February 2013

It's the same ol' same ol'

This week all I wanted was for this shape unit to be over. I feel like I have been working on shape forever. Saying this, there are so many aspects of shape that haven't been covered in depth. Fingers crossed I've given my set enough information to get them through the end of year tests (which ironically are not taken at the end of year). 
I had only planned on spending one day working on symmetry. We have discussed this idea before, but had not worked on using a mirror to find reflective symmetry. This tool is a real pain joy to teach and get the students to use correctly. I noticed that students were doing well to get your basic vertical/horizontal lines of symmetry, but were not quite understanding the diagonal. When discussing what symmetry meant, one of my genius students mentioned it was where you could fold a shape in half.
Realising one day was not quite enough to reinforce the idea of symmetry, I decided to use my student's comment to plan another lesson.
This lesson required students to choose a shape and trace around. They needed to cut around their shape. This is potential disaster for 7-8 year olds as they enjoy cutting quickly, therefore not into the shape needed, or still haven't mastered how to hold scissors. To my surprise these kiddos got stuck in and concentrated on their work.
Students working very intently on tracing and cutting neatly around their shapes.
After they cut their shapes they started folding it to find the lines of symmetry. I was amazed at how much easier it was for them to find the diagonals!
Some sweet folding of a hexagon. 
My favourite thing about this lesson is that the students were so proud of their work. They were the ones to suggest tracing over their lines of symmetry. All of them were keen to make more than one shape and they were able to make at least 2. (One child did 6!)
A completed shape
I'm so glad we were able to work more with symmetry. They are now have a better understanding of reflective symmetry and know how many lines to look for in regular shapes. 
Unfortunately I was still not able to finish shape ... still need to reinforce angles! I'll get there in the end.

Do you have any suggestions for teaching shapes? What are your favourite aspects of teaching shape.

Monday, 25 February 2013

3-D shapes and nets, oh my!

Two weeks ago I was able to convince my man that we should team teach a maths lesson together. 
Some background info ...
Years ago, when we both decided we wanted to be teachers, I remember saying that it would be funny if we worked in the same school together. I think his words were something along the lines of "I would hate that" (okay, probably paraphrasing slightly and putting words in his mouth, but you get the gist.)
Fast forward to a year and a half later when I was moving back to England, after qualifying in California as a teacher, and could not get a job. An opening came up at his school and I was offered the job. Three and a bit years later and we having been working together, albeit in different years, and it hasn't been too bad.

The lesson ... 
In our school, year groups are set based on ability for maths and English. Dan and I are both Set 1 teachers, meaning we have the highest ability students for maths. I thought that this year, being in Year 3, it would be good to have some students from Year 5 help them with newer concepts. Our set has been working on shape, but hadn't gone massively in-depth with it. Dan had mentioned wanting to make 2-D nets of 3-D shapes with his set, when I suggested we join our lessons. After some humming and harring, Dan thought 'why not?'. 
Our lesson consisted on having all 50 students working in the hall. We paired off the year 3 and year 5 students and asked them to discuss everything they knew about 3-D shape. We also posed the question of 'What does 3-D mean?'. This was great as my students knew the very basics of what made up a 3-D shape and the year 5's were able to extend my students' knowledge. This exercise was also able to reinforce 3-D shape concepts to the older students.
The next task was for students to chose a 3-D shape and try and make a 2-D net. 
Students working together in their pairs or threes. They were able to chose any shape and tried to trace around and create their nets.
Some of the amazing nets the students were able to create.
The year 5's had made nets the previous year when they were with me in year 4, but the year 3's were only learning about the different 2-D shapes that make up 3-D shapes. This lesson was awesome in reinforcing the different faces that create a 3-D shape and really explaining the other properties. The students were able to understand about the edges of a 3-D shape because this was where their nets would be stuck together. 
An example of a cuboid net being folded into its 3-D form.
Now I know this lesson was probably 10x more helpful for my younger ones, but we were able to extend the older students. Once the students created their nets, their next challenge was to create another net of the same 3-D shape. Most the year 5s were convinced that it couldn't be done. After jigging their shapes about some pairs were able to prove themselves and other doubters wrong. 

The aftermath ...
My students loved this lesson. We had about 10 minutes at the end, in just our set, to discuss what we enjoyed about the lesson and the new ideas they learned. I was so impressed to hear them explain that 3-D means three-dimensional, which was length, width and depth. They were more secure in their understanding of shape vocabulary. I also loved that some students said they liked meeting new people in the school!

Have you ever had the chance to work with other classes or year groups on projects? How did you manage it?


Friday, 15 February 2013

Clutter Free Desk

I have been an avid follower of Clutter Free Classroom since the summer. In the new year she set challenges to her followers to become more organised and create a clutter free classroom of their own. If I'm honest, all her weekly challenges have been great but not ones I am quite ready to undertake. I moved into my lovely classroom in September and inherited a vast array of items, from pens to dominoes to plans for every subject! There are many things I need to sort through, but I don't think two hours after school, on top of actual work, was enough time to tackle these jobs.
But finally...this week...Challenge accepted. The challenge involved organising your desktop space, something I was looking forward to since my desk area had gotten a bit out of control.
My desktop Monday! Aahhh!!!

My magazine holders, which were supposed to help keep my desk area organised. As you can see the 'Needs Marking' box was quite full.

Oh god! The area next to my desk where things were getting thrown when I didn't  have room on my desk.
I started by sorting the papers I had on my desk. Some of them ended up filed away in the bin and the rest were organised into students' subject folders and books. 
Getting there.
By Friday I had managed to mark and pass out all those papers and clear off my desktop! Hurrah. What a fabulous way to end my week and start my half-term break.
Ahhh clutter free!

I am so glad everything now has a place. I've decided to bin the 'needs marking' holder in order to house my maths resource books.

I promise the next post will be something more exciting.