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Back to School 2012!

Week One is now behind us and we are off to a great start!  We spent much of our first four days reviewing Literacy and Math concepts, getting acquainted and team-building.  We also reviewed school rules, and established classroom rules and routines that will foster comfort and productivity.

COMMUNITY AGREEMENT

The class has created a "Community Agreement" (list of good behaviour principles) using the character traits listed on a Restorative Practices poster that the Simcoe County District School Board provided.  Students then drew from their Community Agreement to create a short list of "The Big Five" rules for classroom behaviour.  When solving conflicts or dealing with habitual or major misbehaviours, we will use the poster to identify:

  • what happened and why
  • how the behaviours of particular students affected others
  • what can be done to make amends
  • what can be learned from the incident(s)
  • which areas of character education may need further reinforcement

If you click on the Community Agreement poster, you can see an enlarged version of it.

Other tools that we use in our classroom to encourage good behaviour are explained in last year's "Open House" BLOG post:
http://blackdeer.edublogs.org/2011/09/23/

COOPERATIVE LEARNING

The following is an example of one of this week's fun (and frustrating) cooperative learning activities.

Students were placed in random groups of four and given 15 minutes to build the tallest freestanding tower possible, using only uncooked spaghetti noodles and miniature marshmallows.

They soon discovered that the task was not as easy as it sounded, with spaghetti noodles snapping easily and pliable marshmallows not holding the structures in a very secure manner.

In the end, a few groups were able to build a structure that could support itself, but the greater lessons learned from this exercise were about the challenges of working collaboratively toward a common goal.  During our debrief, one student said, "I think I should have listened more to the members of my group.  I thought I had a great idea, and wouldn't listen to them until my idea didn't work."  Another said, "I knew that triangles were the strongest shape, but no one in my group would let me speak."  One group found that whenever they reached near consensus about a design idea, a lone dissenter would usually opt out and refuse to help.  These are great observations about potential pitfalls that students need to avoid when working in teams to fulfill academic goals.

Here are a few pictures of the spaghetti tower-building activity:

This is the tallest freestanding tower that was created.  It measured 42 cm in height.  Congratulations to David, Eric, Jillian and Pyper!

You can find the instructions for the spaghetti tower activity here:  http://www.schcounselor.com/2009/10/spaghetti-marshmallows-and-cooperation.html

If you haven't already done so, please subscribe to our BLOG updates by e-mail and check out our class' "Live Binders" page.  There are a links to both up there...

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

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