Feb 3, 2011

Penguin Investigation Beginnings

It's 5:30 in the am and I'm bursting at the seams to get this blog post started. Since the beginning of January my students have been working on a Penguin Unit. We started it with this book. 
It's such an interesting story about one penguin that arrives everyday for a total of 365 penguins for the year. I'm not going to give away the details or the ending. I use this book to engage my students in problem solving and learning about a very interesting animal, the Penguin.

 After reading the first couple of pages we do several different math problems. The fun starts in science when we start to discover that there are more than just one kind of penguin.
Look at the level of engagement and perseverance 
 We generated quite a list. In fact we found more than 17 kinds of penguins. We found 19 or 20. Great discussion about why the books say only 17 and we found more. To work on ordering our data I had the student order the data. The ideas they came up with were incredible: From alphabetical to tallest to shortest and vise versa. I'll post pictures of this work soon. By the way, this problem took them three days to work on. They showed many different ways of how they could organize and order the penguin heights.

We are in the process of writing about our penguins in writer's workshop and working on various Hot and Cold experiments. Here's an experiment from Deanna Jump (Love her blogs and lessons, see side bar for her blogs). Penguins have this amazing ability to survive in the coldest place on Earth. How do they stay warm and protected? 
Penguins have some fabulous numbers for grade two's to use. We started to build the height of the penguins with any materials. The students chose Unifix cubes, Cuisenaire Rods, rulers, etc. What they soon discovered was that 60 Unifix cubes is not the same as 60 cm. Well, again we have another task and problem to work with. They created a measuring tool (very beginning stages, they get better) and then found other objects to compare it with. 

They learned you need less objects when they are longer and more when the objects are smaller. 
From here the kids used 10 by 10 grids or blank hundreds charts and made a measuring tool they would then use to create their penguin to actual height. I was blown away by what they did. Here are some photos to show you. 

 Sorry for all the pictures but it's amazing to see what they are capable of doing once you set them free. I know they are not perfect looking but their heights sure are and that was the intent of the activity. 
Check after school to see what else we do with these life size penguins. 
More to come....

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