Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Government-Grade 4/5

This post is courtesy of Grade 4/5 teacher Kent Percevault

To help students prepare for an assessment on the services the 3 levels of government provide, students worked together in groups of 3 to write songs to the tune of "Head and shoulders, knees, and toes..." with only with one level of government as the focus; e.g.,  fireman, police, and library...municipal, municipal, etc.  They needed to include actions for everything in their songs (pretty funny, especially sewer and water actions!).  They did a great job on these, had a lot of fun with it.  Engagement was high, presentations had accurate information and enthusiastic participants!  This was after doing a tableau activity where they had to demonstrate a government service in their group for the class.  Again they did very well with the activity.

So did these fun engaging activities help them learn the content?  The assessment was a cut and paste quiz where they were given 20 different government services to cut up on one sheet of paper and a 3 column chart on another paper.  They had to glue the service in the correct level of government column.  I spoke with the class after the assessment about what they thought of the cut and paste quiz format.  The response was unanimously positive. 

Some of the things they said were: "Didn't have to put all my energy into remembering the big list, could think about where it belonged"; "Didn't have to do a lot of writing, makes my hand hurt, don't like to write that much" (which might lead to reluctance to complete and maybe not a true assessment of what they know);  "Could move them around in my hands before gluing to think about where they went, change my mind." 

These comments make me think that we probably got a more accurate measurement of what the students actually knew by removing the writing/memory barriers and increasing the tactile methods for some of our students who respond better to this learning style.
Overall the marks were good.  A few students were not very successful, they were students who often have difficulty academically.  So now to figure out why?  Is it a reading barrier?  This is my suspicion, when these students see a fair bit of text they need to extract meaning from they often "shut down" as they struggle with their reading.  So I think I will re-test them orally to find out if their knowledge is better represented if it is read to them first one item at a time then they decide which level of government the service described belongs in.

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