... Living inspired by the beauty of life, one post at a time.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Extension tasks for 'Highly Able Students'

Farmyard Antics
I am a teacher, this is my job but it is also a calling. I am called to this sphere of influence. There is nothing I love more than growing young minds and taking students on a journey of discovery. I really do have the best job in the world!

Our goal this term was to expose our 'Highly Able Students' (Those students identified as working significantly above our grade level expectations and showing proficiency and ability in one or more academic areas) to content beyond the borders of the regular school curriculum. This meant extending thinking and investigations to broader areas of learning in student directed and teacher facilitated tasks.

This term our Integrated Studies unit explored the topic - 'Life on the Farm'. In order to expose students to a broader theme I thought it might be fun to investigate micro habitats. So, our students investigated other types of farming and ant farming proved most popular! ... and ended up being the easiest to implement. (It was also highly successful - if not somewhat challenging... collecting ants became a lunch time obsession for all our Grade One students!!) 

During the term we ended up purchasing ant farms for each of the Grade One classrooms so students could study a micro habitat in a more in-depth and hands on way. As part of the whole class learning process we developed a schema chart of things we already knew about general farming and things we were discovering to keep track of what we were learning. 

Extension students added learnt facts to our slowly growing 'Tree of Knowledge'.

Students were encouraged to put together an annotated diagram (prior knowledge, showing us what they already knew about farms in general) before they set about gathering information on their chosen area of interest and undertaking more in-depth research. We were delighted with the effort of our students who happily put together posters and Power-points (at home and in class) to share at our grade level assembly. (Purposeful show and tell can be very informative!!) 

Throughout the term we worked on a variety of 'Higher Order Thinking' tasks with students presenting what they were learning to their peers along the way, becoming resident experts on their chosen topic. The flow on effect saw other students in the class also engage in their own discovery learning which was celebrated at regular intervals. Having a real purpose (creating the ant farm) and audience (their peers) meant that students were fully engaged in learning processes as they analysed, synthesised, created and evaluated what they were doing. 

Some very interesting facts were discovered along the way about these amazing little critters as students showcased their learning alongside the formal school curriculum. (Did you know that an ants sense of smell is just as good as a dogs!!)

Drawings of ant delicacies in the jars - Investigating what ants like to eat!
Investigation - What do ants like best ... sand or soil?
At the end of the term students reflected on their learning, discussing and highlighting factors that impacted on an animals habitat, suggesting ways to better improve the needs of living things ... and most importantly life on our ant farm to ensure continued survival of the species!

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