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Today I was invited to witness collaboration and solution seeking in action. Kindergarten students created Weather Rocks during Maker Class with @jimtiffinjr to complement their Weather Unit. Several students showed me their weather rocks and were able to explain what they were used for and why they were creating them. I was able to watch students collaborating and solution seeking in building these designs, as some students are still growing in their fine motor skills at this age and others found it easier to have someone hold the base while they wound the rope.

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Before the weather external expert arrived, students spent weeks going deep with a weather unit related to all aspects of learning. A quick walk through the Kindergarten rooms and halls proved that weather was taught deeply through data, mathematics, writing, visible thinking routines, reading, art, brainstorming, singing, and science mini-lessons.

Beginning with the K teachers’ brainstorm in our collaboration room, teachers began to brainstorm ways to interweave science, math, and writers workshop.

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We write on the windows, too!

An important norm at our School is Start with Questions, and both students and teachers had plenty to ask:

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Students even made predictions about how soon until we see spring weather (still under construction).

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Students also made predictions and recorded weather data:

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They learned the science and related vocabulary behind the clouds we see in the sky during science meeting (held much like a math congress). It is vital that our students think and speak like scientists and use the appropriate science vocabulary to describe their understanding.

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Students loved learning about weather tracking first hand from an external expert from Fox 5.

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Of course, our Kindergarten students had a literature-rich experience as well!

IMG_1086In fact, students made their thinking visible all over the School using white boards, chalk boards, and printer paper hung in our Media and Maker Space.

IMG_1087A highlight was seeing the students singing “Are you Looking?”

Finally, collaborating with other grade levels was a must! Kindergarten paired with third grade students to build a cloud in a jar.

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After completing the experiment, students were asked to illustrate and write in their journals about their learning experience, using this proficiency scale for assessment purposes: 

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I can describe the experiment in pictures. I can describe what happened during the experiment and what happened at the end in words and pictures. I can describe accurately what happened in the end and why with words and pictures. I can describe accurately what happened in the end and why using accurate vocabulary words and detailed pictures.
Vocabulary:energy, data, solution, temperature, patterns, light, observations, weather, precipitation, shade, shadows, environment

By the end of the unit, students experienced all facets of #STEM (or STEAM or STREAM) and met the learning outcomes for the unit:

Next Generation Standards: 

K-PS3-1. Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface. [Clarification Statement: Examples of Earth’s surface could include sand, soil, rocks, and water] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of temperature is limited to relative measures such as warmer/cooler.]
K-PS3-2. Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.*[Clarification Statement: Examples of structures could include umbrellas, canopies, and tents that minimize the warming effect of the sun.]
K-ESS2-1. Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time. [Clarification Statement: Examples of qualitative observations could include descriptions of the weather (such as sunny, cloudy, rainy, and warm); examples of quantitative observations could include numbers of sunny, windy, and rainy days in a month. Examples of patterns could include that it is usually cooler in the morning than in the afternoon and the number of sunny days versus cloudy days in different months.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of quantitative observations limited to whole numbers and relative measures such as warmer/cooler.]
K-ESS3-2. Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.* [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on local forms of severe weather.]

While I included the learning outcomes at the end, Kindergarten teachers considered the learning outcomes and the goals for the unit, including what they hoped for students to be able to know and be able to do by the end of the unit, at the very beginning. Starting with the end in mind is a UbD strategy they have practiced with success all year.

I can’t wait to see their weather forecasts next week using the green screen and their self-drawn maps of our area.