Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Vacation

I'm just heading out for a little summer R & R, and judging from the weather today -- summer may have finally arrived in Calgary. Lucky me.
I likely won't be posting much over the next few weeks.  But, be assured that I will be reading like a fiend looking for great tie-ins to the 'big idea' perspective (see previous post) and other curricular areas.
Look for new postings in early August.
Happy summer vacation, Everyone.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Wonder of it all

 Im just getting started on the next ‘big idea’ from Nellie McClung Elementary School. But before I tell you what it is, let me get everyone up to speed with what this entails. 

Each spring teachers at the school select a ‘big idea’ or theme that they will explore in depth in the upcoming school year.  Every grade, Kindergarten to grade 6, develops the idea in a way that is appropriate for their students, while covering the curriculum.  In June, I’m told what this ‘big idea’ is, read the planning notes, and then briefly discuss the notes to help get a clearer idea about the big idea.  I have two months to delve into this topic on my own, while keeping in mind the questions and concepts already brought forth by the teachers. In late August I will present the teachers with a range of books that I think will tie into their topic.  This is a big project but one that I find very rewarding as it gets my brain going in all directions.  Love it!

(If you're interested in reading more about previous 'big ideas' click on the tag Nellie McClung Elementary School.)

And, so, without further ado – the next big idea is – PERSPECTIVE.

This is a huge topic to work through but one that has tons of potential. Some of my initial brainstorming overlaps with that done by the teachers at Nellie McClung, which is good.  Means we’re on the same page.  One element that came up a few times in the planning notes and in my own response is point of view.  How does this differ from perspective?  How are the two terms used?  What about bias?  Or single vs. multiple perspectives?  Oh, so many questions. I have a feeling I’ll be going back over this one element a few times as I realize that I use the two terms interchangeable.

And then I read Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Wonder is about a boy with significant facial abnormalities.  He’s going to school for the first time, starting grade 5 and he’s nervous, to say the least.  Once school starts, there are a few difficulties that must be sorted through and challenges to be met.  Auggie does make friends on his own, learning much about himself and others along the way.  Some of the issues Auggie deals with are the same as many middle school kids – making and keeping friends, becoming more independent, issues about popularity, bullying. There are times he wants to quit but doesn’t.  There are times he’s incredibly happy to be where he is. 

In a word it’s – wonderful, and fits well with the idea ‘perspective’.  Though the book is told by several different people or points of view (Auggie, his sister, her boyfriend, and a couple of his friends), we can start analysing the characters to see what defines or shades their perspectives.  I see potential for looking at some of the minor characters who don’t talk to us directly but are important to the storyline, such as the principal, Mr. Tushman, or the mother of one of the boys who gives Auggie a hard time.  Who are they? What motivates them? And what is their perspective?

So far, I’m working with the idea that point of view is the way we see something.  Whereas, perspective is the way we understand something.  This understanding is built on layers of our experiences and what we know to create something meaningful.  I’m still grasping the nuances of this, as you can see. If you have any ideas about the differences between point of view and perspective feel free to share with us in the comments section.

Overall, I’m excited with the idea of perspective and the opportunity I’ll have to recommend a variety of resources like Wonder.  My perspective?  It’s all about a good story.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Math resource

Here’s a quick recommendation for Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy.

This picture book explains the basics about line and rotational symmetry providing just enough information to explain what these are without being overwhelming.

The illustrations are clear and easily illustrate whatever point she’s writing about.  There are lots of examples of symmetry taken from both the natural world as well as those items that are produced by humans.

Line symmetry is taught in grade 4 math in Alberta and I think this book will be very useful for this level.  Rotational symmetry is taught in grade 9 and this book will not likely appeal to this age group.

Good addition for classroom collections that use picture books in math.

Template Design | Elque 2007