A Terrific Tuesday!

In Math Skills this week we tried a new Algebraic Thinking exercise: Balance Benders. It is a really different way of looking at algebraic equations, with only variables, no numbers, shown on a balance scale. The students did great!

In Thinking Skills we shared our Squiggle stories from last week. There were a few VERY creative drawings and essays that we shared! Next, we used the Obstacles game and practiced Evaluative Thinking. I just love seeing the progress as the students chose tools, presented, defended, and reflected on how they would overcome an obstacle such as a big green ogre or hot lava on the way home from school.

For Learning Centers we dove into the Ozobot coding, creating very complicated obstacle courses and traffic jams for several Ozzies to navigate at the same time. The students really enjoy the Ozobots!

There is no HW assignment this week.

January Fun in Target!

We have kicked off 2018 with a busy start in second grade Target! Thank goodness the inclement weather days did not keep us from school on a Tuesday!

In Math Skills, we have finished up our unit on Patterns, which are a lot harder than they souns, and we took an assessment of our understanding of patterns. The students did very well!

In Thinking Skills, we’ve continued to practice more Convergent Thinking, solving more and more difficult brain teasers. We also worked on our Divergent Thinking when we used a Squiggle to create an original design and write a story about the Squiggle. Some students did not finish the Squiggle story, and I asked them to finish the Squiggle illustration and story at home before Tuesday.

In Learning Skills we finally finished our SCAMPER project, making something useful out of recyclables. (For an explanation of SCAMPER, see previous posts). The students were so proud to bring home their creations. The students shared their creations with the class, and we commented on the flexible thinking, originality, and elaboration of the project designs. For example, we saw a very realistic TV, an intricate floorplan of a media center, a board game, an oven with brownies baking on a pan, and a car with doors and realistic windshields (using laminating film). The students LOVED sharing their projects!

Now is a great time to collect some recyclables for me! Most specifically, we could use boxes from cereal, granola bars, waffles, tissues, soap, toothpaste, etc. You can collect for a week or two and then stop for a while. 🙂 Thank you!

Welcome Back to Target!

I missed your little ones over the break, and they seemed to miss Target! We had fun today!

First, we practiced Convergent Thinking with logic matrix grids and input/output charts involving multiplication. We took an informal assessment on deductive reasoning using a logic puzzle.

Later, we continued our investigation of linear repeating and growing patterns. Next week we’ll learn to extrapolate a pattern and determine, for instance, the 83rd term in a repeating patter of six terms. Great Algebraic Thinking!

Next, we picked by up on our Divergent Thinking projects we started in December. We used the SCAMPER process (described in an earlier post) as a way to think more creatively, and we created something new out of a recycled waffle box or cereal box. A few students have shared their completed projects, and their final SCAMPER projects went home with them today.

Target progress reports (which are the same thing as semester report cards) are ready and have been given to the homeroom teachers. You should receive those from your children today or tomorrow. If you have any questions, please let me know! 🙂

News from Target

Another great day in Target!

In Math Skills we reviewed linear repeating patterns, which is first introduced in kindergarten. We made our own patterns using shapes, letters, and numbers using addition and subtraction in the patterns. Next week we’ll investigate growing patterns.

In Thinking Skills we used Evaluative Thinking on a few kid-sized problems, and we worked with a group to brainstorm possible solutions and determine the best-fit solution. We presented our problem-solution to the class in a skit format. (Acting lessons needed!)

In Learning Centers we performed an experiment with our Ozobots: what happens when we don’t give any codes to the Ozobot? What kind of decisions does Ozobot make when he is not TOLD what to do? Ozzie had the choice between Door No. 1 and Door No. 2; one had $500 fake dollars, and the other had stinky socks. We learned that all the robots favor turning to the left side! When given 2 lines intersecting, the Ozobot will turn left most of the time. Our data showed that the probability was 93:1 in choosing Door No. 1-the door hiding the money!

Next, we coded Ozzie so that he performed his duty at an Amazon warehouse and made it successfully to Aisle 3 to pick up a package.

Full of Learning in Target

Drawing the Ozobot’s path with directions.

What a wonderful day in Target! Went spent the start of our morning waking up our brain with some puzzles and teasers, then we dove in to the Ozobots. This time, I gave the students large sheets of white butcher paper, and they were able to draw their own pathways and experiment with different codes on their own. The students loved making their robot pause, go “turbo” speed, make u-turns, turn around and go another way, follow their name in cursive, and on and on… We are certainly using our Convergent and Divergent Thinking Skills! We also connected our Ozobot coding to Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.

Planning Ozzie’s actions.

Putting the Ozobot on its path!

For Learning Skills, we built candy corn towers with candy corn and toothpicks. You can tell by the mess in my room that is was great fun! How was this a Learning Skill? We were learning to deal with frustration! The tricky part was the candy corn breaking if it were pierced from the side. We practiced perseverance and flexible thinking. About half of the students were able to transition their thinking and try using BROKEN pieces of candy corn to build. The broken pieces actually worked better, but some students could not get over the idea of using WHOLE candy corns for all the joints. The tallest tower was a monstrous 7″. This activity was much more challenging than than the students thought it would be.

In Learning Centers we used recyclables to make something useful. Students received a Mystery Bag with a set of materials: an empty waffle box, a couple of toilet paper and paper towel rolls, a sheet of laminating film, 2 pieces of string, a strip of crepe paper, 4 straws, and some rubber bands and paperclips. The odd assortment turned into many useful products: a shoe, a double decker bag, a mop, a fishing pole, binoculars, an oven, a bowl of spaghetti, and a kid’s game. It was a lot of fun!

Festive Fall Fun in Target

What fun we had today! First, we programmed our Ozobots to travel from their home along a defined pathway, but then through a river without a path. The Ozobot was trying to get to a store which may have been distributing candy! The students cracked the code and most were successful in programming their Ozobot to get from his home to the store safely and efficiently.

For a STEM experience, we built pumpkin catapults using popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, and rubber bands. We needed to launch tiny mellowcreme pumpkin candies. The goal was to build a free-standing catapult with a lever that would launch the tiny candy pumpkin into the air. After building and testing our catapults, we held the first-ever Pumpkin Catapult Olympics! We used our catapult creations to participate in events that measured distance, hit a target, landed in a bucket, knocked down a tower, flew through a hoop, and pole-vaulted over a stack of books. The students made some great catapults!

As a surprise, I shared a special snack with the students, and we read a story, Spookley the Square Pumpkin. The story is about being different, and learning to accept our uniqueness, even using it to an advantage.

This Week in Target

Thank goodness we are back to a regular schedule!

Today students had to be super great self-directed learners so that I could introduce them to OZOBOTS in small groups! OZOBOTS are little programmable robots that our class was awarded by the NES Foundation’s Teacher Grant Program. The students absolutely loved planning moves for our little robots!!!!


Coding an OZOBOT

An OZOBOT at work!

While I was teaching about OZOBOTS to one group, the rest of the class completed an assessment on writing equations with variables, solved a logic matrix grid, and drew pictures from squiggles.

We read about Habit 2: Have a Plan, and we set a short-term goal for this week.

Finally, we learned to play Mancala, and I PROMISED the students I would post the link for the online Mancala game. See if you can beat the computer!

Last Week in Target

Even in a shortened day, we can pack in a lot of fun and learning! We continued to work on writing equations with variables, and we practiced EVALUATIVE THINKING with our new Obstacles games (thank you, Foundation!!!) The students had a blast planning their survival strategies using odd tools they are dealt.

OBSTACLES game cards

Our Mystery Bag held blocks and popsicle sticks, and the student partners were directed to build a tower as tall as they could. There was only one rule: the base of the tower could only be one block! I was proud to see the towers exceed three feet! Below are some photos from our Mystery Bag activity.

A sturdy tower

Mystery Bag group work

A creative tower!

Target News

Today and this Tuesday are short days for us, so we don’t get to all our segments in one day. Today we worked on Learning Skills. We are finishing up Habit 1: Be Proactive by drawing and creating a visual thought bubble of the self-management tasks we can do to Be Proactive. Just understanding what it means to Be Proactive requires abstract, intangible conceptualization. However, if you were to ask your child what they could do to Be Proactive today, hopefully they will tell you about things that interest them and things they’d like to do, nd what they enjoy the most and spend their time doing. Maybe they could also tell you that Being Proactive is:

  • knowing the difference between right and wrong
  • making your own right decisions
  • taking charge of your actions.

If anyone would like to schedule a phone or in-person conference, please send me an email. I am here Tuesday and Thursday afternoon next week. I would be glad to meet you before or after your homeroom conference.

Overdue update from Target

It has been a long time since we had a regular day in Target!!! We missed Target twice in September due to inclement weather and fall break, and there was a half-day due to testing. On the half-day I kept the yellow folders; they did not go home that week.

Last week I was very ill and was not at school. I know how disappointed the children are when we don’t have Target. The good news is…we had Target all day today!!! And we will have Target AGAIN on Thursday!!! The students are super thrilled with the make-up time we’ll have.

Today, math skills consumed our day! We practiced PERSEVERANCE in translating word problems into equations with variables. I learned that the students are not ready to move from the tangible to the intangible method for writing and solving algebraic equations. I was so proud that the students kept working and didn’t give up! You’ll see our work in the yellow folder. The word problems are not very high-level; the hard part is translating the problem into an equation writing the unknown part as a variable. All answers should be correct since we worked every problem together.

In thinking skills we began verbal analogies. We practiced evaluative thinking as we judged relationships, some visual and some verbal, and made similar comparisons in analogies. We had worked on picture analogies in the past, but the verbal analogies were new. The students did very well!

In learning skills we talked about PERSEVERANCE and how important it is to keep working even when something is hard. We took some super fun brain breaks with Go Noodle, and then we listened to a Bruno Mars/Sesame Street song called “Don’t Give Up.” It’s one of my favorites! We also practiced some divergent thinking building with our Keva planks.

The most exciting part of the day for me???? The Nickajack Foundation Grant Program’s Prize Patrol visited my room to tell me that I had been awarded BOTH of my grant requests!!! Mr. Hill and the grant committee came in with balloons and certificates and took photos! The children were not exactly sure why I was so excited, but they were very congratulatory of my accomplishment! I explained to the students how appreciative I am for the hard work of the Foundation to raise money that goes right back into our classrooms, providing new and innovative learning tools. I am so appreciative of everyone who is a member of the Foundation and those who support the fundraisers. One of the biggest parts of my grant requests is a class set of Ozobots!!! The Foundation is providing a set of programmable miniature robots so that we can learn coding and robotics in first and second grade.