building boats

It was very exciting to hear more about science investigations today, this time a 4th grade class was getting ready for a foil boat experiment.  Learning by experience is so important, it’s great to see it happening so often at Condit.  I heard about yeast experiments, mentos experiments and how often you should measure a balloon’s circumference.  Good stuff.  My biggest problem now: makeing sure I’m there for the building of the boats 🙂

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lab prep

I got to sit in on a 5th grade lab prep this morning and similar to the students in the class…I’m ready to measure!  From the sounds of it, we are all set to use a variety of tools (spring scale, timer, etc.) to measure of a variety of objects and activities.  No doubt the lab is going to be educationally meaningful, but it was great watching the kids take their time to set up the tables and journals in preparation.

vocabulary work

The beginning of the week brought with it new lists of vocabulary to consider.  After visiting a few 5th grade classrooms this morning I was reminded of the importance of making connections to the words we study.  Be it a story, rhyme, acronym, or other mnemonic device it’s important the vocabulary go beyond a simple list of definitions.  So today I was able to think about dogs being dominant or submissive, what it would feel like to sing a solo, and what someone looks like when they are miffed.  Perhaps this is a great lesson to all the content that learners engage in, make a personal connection and the ideas tend to stick.

how many ways can you sort food?

After visiting a kinder class today, I can say for certain that you can sort food by color, shape, and healthy/non-healthy.  I even had the chance to add in ‘does it grow on a tree’ which got several giggle when they considered a tree that sprouted hot dogs 🙂  If you think kindergarteners don’t sort/classify/categorize, think again.

news flash: spelling can be fascinating!

Spelling has clearly changed, quite a bit, from when I was a kid.  I sat in on a 3rd grade class this morning and the rules and methods they already knew about spelling would outpace my own knowledge in a heartbeat.  I’ll be frank, while it’s no fun admitting that an 8 year old could run circles around you in spelling, I couldn’t be happier 🙂  In eduction we are always talking about the ‘why’ factor.  When most of us think about this we are talking about bigger picture topics, we relegate spelling to a category of other mundane topics like…oh I don’t know…toothbrushing.  

Upon further review, it appears spelling can teach us a lot about learning.  The universal concepts of ‘systems and ‘rules’ comes immediately to mind.  It’s not about spelling the word correctly, it’s about employing systems and looking, logically, at rules that made this spelling lesson interesting to me.  These systems and rules can be applied to all sorts of other academic areas.  

When I was a kid I got the spelling list on Monday, did a few hum-drum activities with that list during the week, and then tried to regurgitate the correct spelling on Friday.  Man, I feel cheated 🙂

The letter R

What I learned this morning…

  • a rhinocerous looks like a hippo
  • kindergarteners either have seen a rainbow or love rainbows
  • rafts sometimes hit rocks
  • shoelaces are an endless source of fascination
  • pictures of reindeers make kids smile

This, my friends, is why everyone should visit a kindergarten classroom 🙂

being the new kid

Being the new person on campus I tend to have a bit of a deficit view.  Especially having a role that is unique, not a classroom teacher and not and administrator.  A nameless guy who students see in the hallways, classrooms and cafeteria but few have been bold to enough to ask ‘who are you?’ (side note: it appears 2nd and 4th grade girls are the least shy about doing just that). I fixate on some of the downsides of walking in to a close knit community of teachers, parents and students; I worry a bit.  At 3:00pm today, just as the kids were making their way out a student said something to me that I hadn’t heard in nearly 3 years, and it completely made my day.  It made me remember all the great things about getting to become part of a close knit community and made my worries seem small.  You know what that student said?  “Bye Mr. Greenberg”.  Pretty cool.