Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Fun Than Should Be Allowed

I took a step back today and let my kids explore with the thinkblocks. I've demonstrated with them a couple of times but I hadn't put them in their hands yet. So, today we just spent about 15 minutes playing around with them. Responsive Classroom describes this as 'guided discovery' (pdf). The students couldn't wait to get their hands on the blocks. They manipulated them in as many ways as they could imagine, attaching them to one another, putting them inside one another, lining them up, etc.

When we put them away I asked the students what they noticed about the blocks. They had so many thoughts it took a bit to get things under control enough to make our list of ideas. I expected some of the things on this list but I was surprised by others they mentioned.

I have to note that one of our free choice options is a basket of magnets and various small metal items and things. This has been a favorite station all year and they have noticed a lot of things about magnets. Then, earlier this week we read a big book, How Magnets Work, because we are studying explanation texts. The kids are now utterly fascinated by magnets. So they noticed that some sides of the thinkblocks push other thinkblocks away and other sides attract them. They realized and were able to explain that it was because the two poles are the same.

In second grade we have a state science standard about magnets:
The student will investigate and understand that natural and artificial magnets have certain characteristics and attract specific types of metals. Key concepts include
a) magnetism, iron, magnetic/nonmagnetic, poles, attract/repel; and
b) important applications of magnetism including the magnetic compass.

I think my kids are in good shape!

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