Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The golden rule and other light reading

We kept moving right along today, in an effort to get a good jump on the material we will be covering over the next couple of months. The main activity today was in social studies, where students worked in groups to compare and contrast the positive and negative consequences of exploration. Building on an activity from yesterday, students broke into different groups and made some tables that organized the information from 3 different case studies.

The groups each had to conclude by making a statement about which case study had the greatest net positive consequences, and which had the most negative. It was interesting for the students and I to see how different people took the same information and interpreted it. I think that this is an important lesson, as it was a great demonstration of bias, decision making and the difficulties of comparing information. It was also a good illustration of how searching for MORE AND MORE information (ie. online, etc.) isn't always necessary; what is most important is to process the information we have and use that to form well-rounded opinions.

The class presented their findings in front of the class, then carried out a group self-evaluation. This is a key part of the grade 4 curriculum, but is something I haven't focused on too much. I had students evaluate themselves and their group mates on several criteria, then submit it confidentially with their individual write-ups. I know that not all students like group work (understandably), but I feel like this gives them the time to reflect on their own contributions and share any frustrations they have about how the exercise went in general. It also allows me to tailor my instruction to address any persistent issues.

This afternoon, we had a religion lesson about The Golden Rule (do unto others...). It sparked some great discussion and questioning, which made me very happy. Discussion on the basic principles of morality that span religions, philosophy and other belief systems will be the foundation of our religion curriculum over the rest of the year. It was also particularly relevant today, as I fielded several questions about the recent assassination of Osama bin Laden. Students were generally either very resolute or confused in their opinions, so it was useful to talk about it in terms of our basic moral code. If your child has questions our concerns about any of the things we discussed today, I would encourage you to ask them questions and get them thinking about it.

Take care, enjoy the sunny day, and I will talk to you soon. Tomorrow we will be writing the PIRLS test and finishing up our ArtsSmarts, so hope to see all students in class for those things and a few surprises.

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