Saturday, September 30, 2017

At Least Eight Reasons Why Chess is Good For Gifted Kids

After observing the similarities of the feudal system and chess pieces, and learning the basics of chess,  we got out Seabury's  boards and began to play. One could almost hear the wheels turning inside the first and second graders' heads as their brains were working on overdrive. 

Chess helps you concentrate. 

Chess involves both sides of the brain. 

Chess teaches strategic planning.

Chess fosters critical thinking skills.

Chess teaches problem solving skills.

Chess improves memory.

Chess encourages and rewards hard work.

Chess is fun!

Why do we love chess? For these reasons and many more!

When asked if they'd like to have Chess Club return to Seabury, there was a resounding YES!!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Quest to Discover How the Feudal System Works

The Different Levels of the Feudal System

The feudal system was introduced to Britain by the Normans 
after the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  

The peasants and the serfs are at the lowest level.
They provided food and services to all.

The next level up: the knights
They provided protection to all. 

The next level up were the nobles and church officials.
They pledged loyalty to the king, were land owners, 
and were responsible for telling all what to do. 
At times the two didn't agree, hence the English word feud. 

The top level: the royalty
The king ruled over all. 

We gathered around and each received their fair share of the goods: 10 M&M's per person.

It all sounded fair and good...until we discovered what family we were born into.

The first pyramid scheme! The serfs paid taxes and rent to knights, who in turn gave much of what they received to the nobles and church officials. They, in turn, gave much of what they received to the king. 

The king ended up with the most by far!
The nobles and church each had a lot, too!
The knights had quite a lot.
And the serfs only had 4, enough to barely stay alive. 


Junior Great Books - Best Practices for Young Gifted Learners

As a school for gifted students, we strive to implement best practices in our curriculum development. With that in mind, we regularly use Junior Great Books, a literacy program designed for gifted students. 

This week we read a rich, exciting version of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, perfect for our study of the Middle Ages. It stirred up a lively discussion about rats, about keeping promises, and about decision making. The kids were actively involved in a popcorn type discussion, truly listening to each other, and giving reasons from the text and reasons from their own experiences to back up their opinions. 

For more information about the effectiveness of using Junior Great Books, click here. 

Here are some of our interpretations in picture form:

The terrible rat infestation of Franchville.

Even rats on their heads!

Nothing worked to rid the town of the rats.

Along comes the Pied Piper.

Example of the rich language of this version of the story. 

 The book had no pictures of the Pied Piper but we were able to picture him (or her) in our minds. 

"Fain would they have higgled and haggled" 
over losing some money. 
How about you!? Would you have kept your promise?!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

We Joined International Dot Day!

Be invited.

Peter H. Reynolds, the author of The Dot and the instigator of International Dot Day, invited us to "imagine the power and potential of millions of people around the world connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating all that creativity inspires and invites." And we took him up on his invitation, along with 9,841,466 people (and counting) in 169 countries (and counting) in the world. 

Here are a few pics of the Navigators doing the dot thing! 

Creating our dot designs

Excitement in the air: hanging out to dry


Connecting: dot dot dot dot dot dot dot

Lining up for our all school celebration

The big dot in the sky shining on us

End of day connection with a good book

Be sure check out the other classroom blogs and social media for more connecting, collaborating, creating, and celebrating.

Be inspired.

Welcome to Math-a-lot: Our First Math Quest of the Year

We're invited to help solve a king-sized problem!

Lady Maitlen and Lady Towne, the second and first grade teachers at Seabury School, regularly gather all our students together for some real life, hands-on, challenging, fun, open-ended math adventures. We often start with a question and a challenge and let the students discover, through trial and error, the mathematical concept we are introducing. 

This type of activity elicits great mathematical thinking and conversations and allows for the students to work at their unique individual level. It also fosters collaboration and a sense that math really matters. The words in quotation marks below are snippets from actual conversations. 

In our first Great Quest of the year, the students will discover a better way to count big amounts by using place value. 

After receiving the invitation above and reading the first part of the book, Sir Cumference and All the King's Tens, the students are up for the challenge and begin counting beans, each bean representing one person.

With that challenge in mind, we break into groups of three and started counting our beans. We discover right away that this is going to take FOREVER.
"147, 148, 149..."

This student's group has a great idea...but unfortunately they lose count.
"We know how to count by 10's."
"It's faster to count by 10's than 1's."
"When we added them all up it got mixed up and we had to start all over again."

"Maybe if we write it down."
"We should just use a calculator."
"I actually like counting."

This group decide to divide their beans between the three of them, each count their beans, and then add them up. They get right to work, stay on task, and are the first group to get their beans counted. One of them starts talking about having a company and he will be in charge of Research and Development. Another wonders how they'll add their beans to all the others in the room.

Not bad, for not having experience adding large three digit numbers!

There is a pleasant sound of math chatter throughout the room.

"Let's use the containers and separate them into groups."
"Can you count quieter?"
"There's 90 in this cup."
"Hey, let's put 100 in a cup. That'll make it easier to count."
"I think there's a MILLION beans in here!"
"Why do we have to know how many people? We can just make each person's piece of birthday cake smaller."

The "bean counters" are doing a great job of staying on task but there is an overall sense in the room that this is going to take FOREVER. So we all gather together to share what's not working, to share what is working, and to read the rest of our book:

Aha, maybe this idea could help us--groups of 10's, 100's, and maybe even 1000's.

Groups of 10

Ten groups of 10 = 100. 
100 beans in one cup.

10 groups of 100 = 1000

1000 beans in a bowl. Ready to go to the staging area at the back table. 

We bring our groups of 1000 to the table and flip over the digits on the place value chart.

We add our extra groups of 100's, 10's, and 1's and sometimes have to trade them to the next larger container. 

We're up to 5 groups of 1000, 8 groups of 100, 6 groups of 10, and 1 group of 1.

Job well done. 
We end up with 6, 280 people coming.
And now we know how much food to make for King Arthur's birthday party! 

 And now for another important part of our adventure - 
recording our mathematical thinking.

Describe or draw how you counted the guests/beans.
Part 1--before we shared ideas

Part 2--after trying out the different strategy 
of grouping and regrouping

And the true test--do we get it?

 Yes, we do! Well, except for the King's New Year Ball. 

The next Math Quest might have to be about that lonely number Zero as he goes on a journey to discover his place.

Raven and the Box of Daylight at the Museum of Glass

What's inside that strange looking building in Tacoma? The Museum of Glass's hot shop and lots of cool glass art!! ...