Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Understanding Marine Life and Connecting Ideas

Grade 2 is diving into the world of rivers, seas and oceans. In this lesson and activity led by Ms. Mai, students showed enthusiasm while sorting pictures of marine life into the categories of sunlight, twilight and midnight ocean zones.

Learning Intention:
I am learning to classify marine animals and plants according to what they look like.

Success Criteria: I am successful if I can...
Give reasons for why certain marine animals live where they do
Work cooperatively with my group members
Sort at least 2 different marine animals in each of the zones



Mio, Himeka and Julie position their work to make it look the ocean zones we are learning about!

Ms. Mai's example of what success looks like

Saki, Mirai, Jillian and Joan worked cooperatively and each contributed to the task

Luna, Yui and Yura decided to compare these 2 fish by using a Venn Diagram

2B loves learning about ocean life!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Building Structures



Grade two students have been learning about structures. For their summative assessment, the students' task was to build a structure that withstands forces. They first chose an environment (building site) and had the task of designing and building a model structure. For example, they could design a small house on the beach of a tropical island. In this case, their structure should be built to withstand the forces of typhoon winds, strong rains, strong sun rays, sand, palm trees, and possible falling coconut. Sounds like a nice place to be! As long as your beach hut is built strong and stable like ours!


These were the materials that were available to use:

reusable paper, unifix cubes, pattern blocks, sticky tack, and tape


The Success Criteria:

Structure has to withstand the force of wind from a fan

Structure has to withstand the force of a shaking table

Structure has to withstand the weight of one PET bottle


Children have the ability to focus for long periods of time-- if what they're doing is engaging and interesting. What are your daughter's passions and interests? When does your daughter focus the most-- what is she doing?

During the unit, grade two students learned hands on about the different forces that affect materials: compression, tension, bending, torsion, and sheer. The girls were introduced to the scientific vocabulary as well as simpler verbs that make it easier for children to conceptualize: push, pull, twist, squeeze. You could ask your daughter to teach you about different forces using the diagram below.


When we injure ourselves, one of these forces are at play. Ouch! For example, because of the force of compression while jogging, Mr. E.'s ankle became sore. (Please don't worry about him-- he ate plenty of bananas to make his body strong and healthy again).


Hands-on learning activities are important for developing fine-motor skills

When a structure is strong and stable it has the ability to hold a load without breaking or shaking. Strong structures can hold a lot of weight, withstand the pushing and pulling of forces, and are not easily broken or scratched. Stable structures can maintain balance, withstanding the pushing and pulling from forces, and do not shake, wiggle, or tip over. Since we live in Japan, living in a building that is both strong and stable is especially important to us!


By experimenting and trial and error, students learned that structures that have a wide base and a low center of gravity are more stable.



One factor that affects the strength and stability of a structure is its shape. Some shapes are more stable than other shapes. During the unit, the students experimented with different shapes (square, triangle, and a square with a cross inside) to find which one is more stable.



Would you like to learn more about what our class learned about buildings and structures? Please ask us questions in the comment section below!





Thursday, March 9, 2017

How The World Works Summative

This week, Grade 2 students were excited to engage in a summative assessment that involved building with a variety of materials! Students were given an environment (a building site) and asked to design and build a model structure. Students also needed to identify the forces at work in their structure. These forces included:

  • Squeezing / pushing
  • Stretching / pulling
  • Bending
  • Sliding
  • Twisting

Learning Intention: I am learning to build a structure that withstands forces.
Materials you can use:
paper, unifix cubes, pattern blocks, sticky tack, tape
Success criteria:
Structure has to withstand the force of wind from a fan
Structure has to withstand the force of a shaking table

Structure has hold the weight of one PET bottle




Students used this HTWW SOLO to ensure their success in this summative

Students will be assessed on their written reflection and their oral explanation of how they designed their structure based on this Success Criteria. Grade 2 students look forward to sharing these summatives at Student-Led Conferences on March 20!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stable Structures in Ballet

How can we use stable structures in ballet?  Grade 2 students have brought a lot of knowledge about ballet to our current unit.  By connecting their prior learning with their classroom unit How The World Works-- Stable Structures, students are discovering new ways to strengthen their dancing.

First of all, we looked at ballet positions from First Position to Fifth Position.  Students explored the stability of each position.  They tried each position then in a pli√© position and in relev√©.  Students discovered that not all ballet positions are stable, and explored ways to strengthen each position.

Next, students explored axiel movement steps from ballet.  Each time they practiced a step, they reflected on how stable the step was and how stable they felt.  Again, students explored ways to make these steps stronger.

Students tried locomotor movements in ballet, such as waltz steps, leaps, and turns. 

Finally, students explored various ballet poses from pictures of professional dancers.  They wondered why many of these poses were so difficult and unstable, and how professional dancers could perform these so easily.  Students will choose their favorite poses for their own dance sequence.

You can watch a video of students doing some of these poses in a sequence.



What are our next steps?  We will be watching some videos of professional dancers to learn more about strengthening poses, axiel, and locomotor movements.  Students will begin to create a dance using the various movements they've learned so far.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

2B Learning the keys to Striking and Fielding!!

Central Idea: Learning to strike an object using hand eye coordination, while understanding the importance of fielding an object. 

Key Concepts: Form, Function, Connection 

Learning objectives:

-Student explores different ways to strike an objects with various implements (paddle, noodle, hand, bat, racquet) 
-Students discover how to field a ball and what playing defense looks like and feels like
-Students learn about teamwork on moving the ball and accomplishing team goals in game play

Success Criteria for striking a ball:

1). Strong grip on the bat
2). Eyes on the ball 
3). Triangle feet (wide stance)
4). Swing through and hit the ball! 

Success Criteria for fielding an object:

1). Get in ready position 
2). Shuffle my feet towards the ball
3). Ice cream scoop it up!! 

Success Criteria for throwing a ball:

1). Make the letter "T" with your arms 
2). Make the letter "L" with your throwing arm 
3). Follow through and across your body as you release 


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Representing Data with Graphs






In grade two, the students have been learning how to organize data and make real graphs and picture graphs. Graphing is a way to present data in a concise and visual way that makes it possible to see relationships in the data more easily. "For younger children, graphing experiences best begin concretely", according to Marilyn Burns. Our class started out by making a real graph out of our shoes on the carpet. This created a concrete graph to help students build their understanding of more and less.


Real graphs are concrete. Bar graphs are more abstract, but they smell better than the real thing.



Our next step was to make a pictorial representation of a real graph, which we refer to as a 'picture graph'. Later, the girls learned how to conduct a survey to collect data. Each student came up with a survey question to ask their friends in class.


For example: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Students then brainstormed a list of 4-6 choices, such as:

vanilla, strawberry, green tea, chocolate mint, banana


What is your favorite sport? Swimming is popular in Class 2A.

What is your favorite color?

What is your favorite sport?

What is your favorite animal?


An important part of a graphing activity is the discussion and interpretation of the information. The girls are learning to compare data by asking questions such as these:

Which column has the most?
Which column has the least?
Which flavor of ice cream is the most popular?
Do more students like banana ice cream or vanilla?
How many more students like swimming than kendo?
How many shoes have laces?
How many shoes are there altogether?

The students practiced interpreting each other's graphs by asking and answering questions with a partner.

Questions you can ask your daughter at home to extend her learning:

What's the difference between a real graph and picture graph?
How do graphs help people communicate?
What's a survey? Why do people use surveys in real life?

Thanks for reading!