Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Patterns in nature

Our Parent and Family Literacy Centre had butterflies!  Yes real butterflies.  We watched them as they changed from little caterpillars, to chrysalis, to beautiful butterflies.  Each day a group from our class went into the PFLC to observe and document what was happening.

We borrowed this fantastic book from PFLC and discovered connections to all kinds of patterns outside.  Did you know that a butterflies wings have a pattern?  Look closely to the photo on the cover of this book!

We decided to try to make our own patterned butterflies.  Using a coffee filter and beautiful coloured markers, patterns were created for the wings.

                Once the pattern was complete, drops of water were added and the colours spread.

Hmm...look what happened here.  The colours blended together to form a new colour. 

Beautiful butterflies!

A simple provocation became an invitation to create beautiful butterfly paintings.

As I sat on the dock at my cottage this weekend a beautiful butterfly fluttered around me, constantly moving here and there but never going very far away from me. What inspired that butterfly to stay so close?  Its beauty,  its energy and its curiosity reminded me of the students I get the pleasure to work with everyday.  

At this time I would like to share with everyone who follows this blog that I am embarking on a new adventure next year as a Mathematics Consultant K-3 with York Region District School Board.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have inspired my thinking and learning which ultimately has resulted in amazing happenings in my classroom, some of which I have tried to make visible by sharing through this blog.  I hope to continue with a blog next year, focusing specifically on my new journey and hopefully some learnings I can continue to share with you.  What that will look like I am not sure so please be patient with me as I begin this new chapter in my learning.  

Friday, 14 June 2013

My Dad is my Superhero!

Dear Dad

I know if you are visiting this blog you have opened your gift from me. Thanks for being my Superhero!

In everyone's life there are certain people who we love, admire and look up to. Team Jelleybean wants to share the unique messages that were created for a special person in each one of our students lives. To love and to be loved is the greatest gift of all.  

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Buzzing Bees

It all began during the early warm days of fall 2012 when students noticed lots of bees around our school, buzzing here and there and occasionally stinging a person or two. 

When winter came and we ventured outside to see what we could see the conversation of bees came up again. 

BG - Maybe animals are hibernating?
CL - Maybe it's a bee hole because it has so many holes.  They can go in there and hibernate in there.  

RH wondered "Where are bees in winter?"  
LF - In winter they're making honey.
MJ - So where are they?
LF - In their hive making their honey.
RH - They make honey only when it's summer.  If there's no flowers out they can't make honey for anyone.
LF - Yeah they can.  There's honey in their beehive.
C - I remember from last year they suck it out of yellow flowers.
NB - It doesn't have to be yellow flowers.
KB - It can be any kind of flower.  It can even be the flowers or it doesn't have to be just yellow flowers.  
BR - The flowers won't make yellow.
TT - Bees drink from flowers too.  

We searched wonderopolis and found some information. 

What Do Bees Do in Winter? (wonder #51)

What did you learn about bees in winter?

CB - I saw the queen bee and it had fur.
RH - If it has a queen bee it must have a baby bees.
R - If a queen bee have a prince it will have babies.
V - If bee go outside to pee then move away side then he pee then nother bee come to pee.  Small bee or big bee, every bee. 

How come the bees cluster? (JI)
What is cluster? (RL)

Ms. Jelley shared our ongoing investigation with her teacher friend Ms. Trimm who then sent us some amazing photos of a bee they found outside their classroom one day in winter.  The bee was frozen in the ice but on this sunny day and on her warm hand the ice began to melt and the bee began to move!

(Thank you to Joanne Trimm for sharing these fantastic photos!)

Our wonderings and curiosity about bees continued as we re-visited our thinking a few weeks ago, preparing for a visit from Scientist Cathy (who happens to be KB's aunt!).  She was coming to assist in our investigation through a workshop called:
                   Buzz About Bees

Meanwhile, Ms. Lilley found a huge wasp nest in the ditch last spring and with our bee research well underway she decided to investigate with some of our team what it looks like inside.  So she used scissors to cut it open.....

We watched as she used tweezers to investigate further.....

The team found actual wasps inside the nest but they weren't alive!

 The wasp nest looked and felt like paper.

When Scientist Cathy finally came to visit we shared with her what we already knew about bees.  She shared some amazing facts about bees including what bee keepers wear to protect themselves from getting stung!

After Scientist Cathy left we visited Wonderopolis with a wondering: 

Do beekeepers ever get stung? #962

What are you thinking after seeing this video?

And our inquiry continues.  The following day (May 28) we brainstormed new wonderings that still need attention as we continued to examine bees and our wasp nest!

What is the difference between a bee hive and a wasp nest?
What is the difference between a bee and a wasp?
Do wasps make honey?
How do wasps make their nest?
What is a hornet?

And further wonderings noticed while visiting Wonderopolis:

Why do bees sting? #41 

Why do bees buzz? #4

Our investigation continues......

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


We have a problem in our classroom and it's been a problem all year long!  We have ants!  Not just one or two ants.  And we don't see them all the time.  BUT we have noticed we have lots of ants in certain places in our classroom. A scrap of food on the floor under our snack table seems to be an invitation for ants to enter our classroom.  A bit of cracker kicked behind our door appears to be a dinner invitation for more ants. Even in winter we still had ants appearing to eat/collect scraps of food.

DG loudly asked the question one day "Why are there so many ants?" And so an inquiry began.  

MJ - D talk to us about what you are thinking.  You are the one who got this investigation going.

DG - That’s because I like ants because they’re small, tiny and only small ants are babies.  I like babies. 

RM - Hey I like babies too.

NB - Some aren't baby ants.  Some are grown up ants.

RM - Yeah some are big grown up and some are going to be this huge.  

NB - These are grown up ants (points to photo). 

MJ - DG how do you know if an ant is a baby or grown up?

DG - Because there’s God to take care of babies or grown ups and babies have to grow up so some ants will have to be babies and if they aren’t babies then they really are grown ups.

MJ - DG do you think these are grown ups or babies (referring to photo)?

DG - Well they do look big there.  But out here they’ll just look this big (uses his fingers to show length of ant on floor) and baby ants this big (and he reduces size between fingers). 

MJ - So are you suggesting these are magnified to look bigger.

RM - Yeah and some ants can look this small.


This video was captured in our classroom in the space between our garbage can and the snack table.  

L - I can’t believe something so small can move something so big!  The ant is so little and the popcorn is so big!

MJ - I’m wondering how long would that piece of popcorn feed his family?

Our OISE teacher candidate Ms. G took an interest in the investigation and continued to provoke thinking during her time in our classroom. 

C - When I was drawing my ant I noticed these things…(pointing to antennae)

Ms G. - Do you know what they are?

C - No

Ms G. - Should we find out?

C - Yes!

After doing research by watching a few short video clips:

RH - Those things are called antenna's.  I think they have them to smell and hear.

DG - They have to suck the juice out with them, out of the leaves.

RH - I thought ants chew their food.

NB - I know how they hear.  They have these....

RH - They're antennes.

NB - The hear with them and they smell with them. 

BG - They like eat what we eat.  They can eat other animals like insects. 

Ms G - How do you know that?

LF - I know the holes that you said.  When they make their home, that's what the girl said, they dig the holes in the ground. 

Ms G  supported students as they created plasticine ants using a similiar technique demonstrated by one of our favourite illustrators Barbara Reid. 

At our Ant Inquiry Centre Ms G and our research team of students continued to investigated ants by watching/listening to a video on the ipads.  


N - Ants have holes.   
Ms. G - What else did we learn from the video?
N - Ants have two stomachs.
R - Ants don’t have ears.
Ms G. - How do they find food?
N - They have tiny eyes

Looking closely at the different ants they noticed there are red ants and black ants.
C - They may be friends.
C - They remind me of the red ants outside that crawled up my arm and bit me.  

Ms G. -  Why do you think they did that?

C - They think your skin is food.
R - Black ants don’t bite.

The team read from the book Ant Cities by Arthur Dorros
which pushed their thinking further.

RH - Ants go down below when it is cold.

R - I helped an ant make a home before.  I added sand. 

KL - I helped an ant make a home too. 

Our latest wondering:  What is an ant colony?

MJ - You started telling me something about the ant colony.  What do you know?

JC - The ant colony.  Oh yeah, um like the ant colony is a type of hill and it has a hole in it and that's where the ants go through it.  They have sticky on their legs to get down the ant hill, like inside when there's danger and they fight the mosquitos with squirters.

MJ - K what were you going to tell us about ants?

KL - They eat skitos.

JC - When they hear danger coming their eyes go big and they hear danger from their...(motions to head and antennae).

MJ - Their antennae like R told us?

JC - Yeah.

Thank you to Ms G for being part of our Team at Jersey.  We will miss you.  As we continue our investigations we hope you will visit our blog often with your wonderings and inspirational comments.   

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Granny's egg problem continues!

Granny's egg problems continue!

Granny finally wrote us back after returning from her vacation in Florida.  She was still having problems with her eggs and asked us for help.  
(Setting the context)

(Working on it)
Our team was eager to help Granny.  Group 1 played with eggs and a carton that had been cut down to hold 10 as granny had instructed.  Once partners had considered different ways to make 10 with their coloured eggs they recorded their thinking.   Below are some examples of this.

(Math Meeting)
A few of these solutions were then brought back to the members of  Group 1 to share the thinking.  This group is quite comfortable subitizing numbers and are now being challenged to think about part part whole and in some cases hierarchical inclusion of numbers.  We began the challenge by having CB come to the SMARTboard and show us one way to make 10 with coloured dots on a ten frame.  She made the colours "in a pattern" (blue, pink, blue, pink) and then explained that there were 5 on the top and 5 on the bottom which makes 10, which everyone in this group easily recognized.

Here are some additional conversations, based on the work students did following the introduction of granny's letter and our initial conversation:  

First student work sample shared.

MJ - LK what are you thinking?
LK - The bottom is different because 5 blues are at the top and 2 blues are at the bottom and 3 reds are at the bottom.  
MJ - So is that 10? 
LK - Yes.
MJ - How do you know that?
LK - It just looks different.
MJ - Help us to understand how that's 10 
LK - 5 plus 4 plus 1 more equals 10.  
MJ - Does anybody see a different way to tell granny?
KB - 7 blues and 3 reds make 10.
MJ - How do you know there are 7 blues?
KB - Cause I counted in my brain when Liam was talking. 
MJ - How did you count?
KB - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
MJ - Anybody else...what did you see?
EA - 4 and 6 makes 10.  
MJ - Can you come and circle the 4 and the 6 you are talking about? (She circles 2 on top and 2 on bottom together as the group of 4, then 3 on top and 3 on bottom together as group of 6).

Second student work sample shared.

MJ - What would you tell granny about this one?
LF - 4 and 2. (He circles 2 on top and 2 on bottom together as group of 4 and then circles the next 2 yellow together as a group of 2 working left to right across the ten frame.) 
MJ - And what's 4 and 2 more?
LF - 6. Then 1 more .... (top green)
MJ - Is how many?
LF - 7 and 3 more (3 remaining green) is 10. 

MJ - Did anybody see it a different way?
CL - 2 and 2 makes 4 (green dots) then 6 more (yellow dots) makes 10 (working from right to left). 
LF - He almost like copied me!

Third student work sample shared.

MJ - EA come and share your thinking.
EA - 7 and 3.
MJ - Makes how many?
EA - 10.
MJ - How do you know that's 7 (blues dots).
EA - Because 5 and one more makes 6 and one more makes 7. 
MJ - So you actually went with the friendly 5 and then counted on. 

MJ - Are there any more ideas to share with granny?
BG adds a final thought to this last work sample discussion.  
BG - 3 and 2 more makes 5 (working across top row) and 3 more makes 7 and 2 more makes 10. (working across bottom row)
MJ - You said 3 and 2 makes 5 and 3 more makes 7 and 2 more makes 10. (I write an open number line as I re-voice what he said.)
(LK has thumb down as BG talks)
LK - 3 and 2 more makes 5 and then 6 , 7, 8, and then 9 and 10. 
MJ - What do you think BG. LK says 3 and 2 more makes 5 and.... 
LK - 3 more makes 8 and then 2 more makes 10
BG - I agree. 
MJ - What did LK say?
BG - 3 and 2 more makes 5 and 3 more makes 8 and 2 more makes 10.  
MJ - Can you show us here (on SMARTboard) what you are thinking. 

Some really great strategies were shared here.  We can't wait to hear what granny thinks.  

Groups 2 and 3 work to help granny too!

Group 2 had the same challenge working with the smaller carton of 10, using 2 colours of eggs.  The focus was on orally sharing their thinking. This group is developing strategies of thinking beyond 1 to 1 tagging and counting,  with a focus on explaining thinking by subitizing and cardinality.  

Group 3 worked with the same egg carton of 10 using 2 colours of eggs, but their challenge was to simply figure out how many eggs were in the carton. (This group is still working on 1 to 1 tagging and counting consistency, subitizing to 10, cardinality).  Each time the number of eggs was changed and partners worked together to figure out how many, how do you know, do you agree with what your partner said.  It is interesting with this group to listen to them help each other with strategies.  

AP - 3 on top and 4 on the bottom makes 7.
VP - AP can you...what you say?
AP - 3 on top and 4 on bottom makes 7. 
        1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.  Five and two more makes......
VP - 7
AP - no 4
VP - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.  Seven AP!
AP - 5 on top, 1 on bottom makes 7 (she then touches next egg and adds 1 more) 8.
VP - AP go back.  AP you say first 7 now you say 8.  Count slowly AP!

Here is another conversation captured with a pair from group 3:
MJ - LW how many?
LW - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.  Eight.
MJ - How many?
LW - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.  Ten.
MJ - I'm confused.  First you said 8. Now you said 10. BP how many?
BP - 4 on top, 5 on bottom. That's 9 and one more makes 10.
MJ - So how many?
BP - 9
MJ - LW what do you think?
LW - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. (She slows down her tagging and counting this time.) Nine.
MJ - Hey how many did you say BG?
BG - 9
MJ - How many LW?
LW - 9

An interesting reflection on my part with this exercise is some students noticed the colours and based their explanations on how many of each colour.  Others organized the eggs by colour but still relied on talking about what they see by subitizing number formations (similiar to dot plate formations) regardless of colour placement.