What a year!

This year has flown by! I haven't posted since March because I have been so busy that I haven't had the chance to take photos. So this post will be a summary of what we have done since March.

Term 1 Art

Rainforest Silhouettes

In Term 1 we were studying a Primary Connections unit - Plants in action. We linked it to our Geography outcome (The main characteristics of the continents of Africa and South America and the location of their major countries in relation to Australia(ACHASSK087)) and learnt about rainforests in Africa and South America.

These silhouette pictures were created with a dry brush technique for the green background, then the silhouettes were drawn on black paper and cut out to glue onto the background. The 'jungle vine' border was re-used from a baby shower I hosted for my best friend (which was again re-used by a Year 3 teacher for a drama presentation at Arts Fest). Some of these artworks were more effective than others, but I think they all look fantastic when arranged together.

Parts of a Flower

Through our Science unit - Plants in action, we learnt about how a flowering plant grows from a seed to maturity and develops a flower in order to reproduce. We dissected a flower in class to identify all the main parts and then created a diagram to show these parts. As I love art (have you noticed?) I got my students to use their diagram to create a collage of the flower. Each part of the flower was colour coded to identify all the parts we discovered during our dissection.

Name Kaleidoscopes

I presented this lesson as Maths (I also told them it was an experiment and that it could fail miserably!). There was a lot of folding, rotating, flipping and turning going on throughout the lesson. Luckily I had the assistance of my amazing and versatile LSA, Jodie, who helped those students who were really struggling with their spatial awareness.

These artworks were inspired by this, with excellent instructions from here. As an extension to this activity, I would use this. (The final link here is to a Pin on Pinterest, as the original site is an e-magazine that takes a while to load. Please do take the time to have a look and read the full article as it's fantastic!)

Terms 2, 3 and 4

LEGO Robotics

At the end of Term 1, a colleague and I went to a LEGO robotics Professional Learning (PL) to learn how to program LEGO EV3 robots. We had an absolute awesome day (and with LEGO, everything is awesome!) and came back to school pumped to try it out with our Year 3 and 4 students.
Once we were back at school, we organised to buy a set of 14 robots (one between 2 students) to implement a program. We had some issues with getting things to work. (Sadly, I am also having issues with getting my videos to work.)

Our own classes were the guinea pigs for our new robotics program. They helped us to refine the program, so when we implemented it with the other Year 3 and 4 classes, we had ironed out most of the issues. This photo is our version of the driving test, complete with pedestrian crossing. This was our final assessment for robotics, and used all the skills learnt through the program, including touch sensor, display, sound, turns and ultrasonic sensor. At the end of the driving test, they were issued with a driver's license (Learners permit, Provisional license or Full license) which will follow them next year to further differentiate the robotics program.

Term 3 and 4

Arts Festival

I was one of the organisers for this year's Arts Festival - a celebration of all the amazing arts our students create. We had two stages this year for music, singing, dance and drama. We had beautiful lanterns and hanging art. There were 2D and 3D pieces of visual arts from students in Preschool all the way up to Year 6. 

It rained on the night. Torrential rain. But we didn't let that dampen our spirits and the show went on. Sadly, as I was running around like crazy on the night, I have no photos of the incredible display of talent we showcased. Both Kelly (the Arts Fest Coordinator) and I were busy from 7:30am to almost 9pm on the day and barely had a moment to eat, let alone take photos.

Here is one lonely photo of some sewing that my students did in preparation for Arts Fest. Our Japanese teacher mentioned sashiko one day in class and I did a double-take. "Sashiko stitching?" I inquired to be told yes. Funnily enough, I had recently done a lesson on sashiko stitching and fell in love with the Japanese art-form. Our Japanese teacher had a stash of supplies to create sashiko with a class of 24 students (coincidentally the amount of students I had at the time). She gladly donated the supplies to me and these are two of the finished projects. We all got to choose from a Japanese design - samurai swords, tanuki (raccoon), oni (Japanese ogre), sakura (cherry blossoms), and a Japanese helmet. A lot of my students chose the samurai swords (shown on the left) for those wanting a challenge, the tanuki design (right) was more intricate.

Sadly, there will be no more photos of my room or displays as I have started the process of packing up my room for the end of the year. I completely forgot to get photos before everything was removed. Such a rookie mistake!

GAfE (Google Apps for Education)

In Term 3, I went to a PL on using the Google Apps suite in schools along with my teaching partner. As someone who is relatively savvy with technology, I was sent to the intermediate course (instead of the beginner course). I managed pretty well, with the assistance of my teaching partner and my old teaching partner who was there representing his new school.

Since going to the PL, I have been teaching my students how to use cloud computing with the Chromebooks and GAfE. We have created collaborative documents using Docs, giving each other feedback on our work using the comments feature. We have used Slides to present book reports and history projects. Sheets has been used to create graphs from a common data source. 

One of the fantastic things about my students is their ability to explore, experiment and share what they have learnt not only with their peers, but also with me. I am not the fount of all GAfE knowledge, and appreciate all the tips and tricks my students share with me to further enhance my own skills.

That's all for now. It's not an exhaustive list of ALL the things we have done this year, only the highlights. I won't promise another post before the end of the year, but will try to get something worthy of blogging about.

Lastly, a shout out to April. If you manage to get all the way through this very long post - here it is. The post I should have done for you ages ago. Thanks for keeping me on my toes and making sure I remember to write here!