Last Friday the year 6 girls had a a Robogals incursion. Robogals offers technology workshops free-of-charge in their local communities, focusing on encouraging girls from primary to secondary school to explore an interest, as well as cultivate self-confidence, in these areas. Introducing female engineering students to girls at a young age also provides visibility to female role models, of which there is a significant deficit in the STEM field.
Aaron and Kim arrived with a case full of Lego Mindstorms robots and laptops. The session started with a presentation from Aaron about Robogals, STEM and the need in the community for females to study STEM courses. Then Kim explained to the girls about how to use ‘code’ to operate and control their robot.
The students made up teams of three and collected their equipment.
Our first challenge was to make the robot travel in a square.
Some of the students took the task seriously and even drew a rough plan.
Our Year 6 girls requested a group photo with Aaron and Kim from Robogals and with their robots. Mrs Cogger and the girls throughly enjoyed the incursion. We are sure that the visit has ‘sparked’ some interest in the girls considering STEM courses for a future career.
Ava and Mia created this iMovie about the incursion. Click on the link below.
This term’s HABIT OF THE MIND FOCUS is METACOGNITION – or in other words ‘thinking about our thinking’ as we go about our learning.
Occurring in the neocortex, metacognition is our ability to know what we know and what we don’t know. It is our ability to plan a strategy for producing what information is needed, to be conscious of our own steps and strategies during the act of problem solving, and to reflect on and evaluate the productiveness of our own thinking. While “inner language,” thought to be a prerequisite, begins in most children around age five, metacognition is a key attribute of formal thought flowering about age eleven.
Probably the major components of metacognition are developing a plan of action, maintaining that plan in mind over a period of time, then reflecting back on and evaluating the plan upon its completion. Planning a strategy before embarking on a course of action assists us in keeping track of the steps in the sequence of planned behavior at the conscious awareness level for the duration of the activity. It facilitates making temporal and comparative judgments, assessing the readiness for more or different activities, and monitoring our interpretations, perceptions, decisions and behaviors. An example of this would be what superior teachers do daily: developing a teaching strategy for a lesson, keeping that strategy in mind throughout the instruction, then reflecting back upon the strategy to evaluate its effectiveness in producing the desired student outcomes.
Intelligent people plan for, reflect on, and evaluate the quality of their own thinking skills and strategies. Metacognition means becoming increasingly aware of one’s actions and the effect of those actions on others and on the environment; forming internal questions as one searches for information and meaning, developing mental maps or plans of action, mentally rehearsing prior to performance, monitoring those plans as they are employed–being conscious of the need for midcourse correction if the plan is not meeting expectations, reflecting on the plan upon completion of the implementation for the purpose of self-evaluation, and editing mental pictures for improved performance.
Interestingly, not all humans achieve the level of formal operations (Chiabetta, 1976). And as Alexander Luria, the Russian psychologist found, not all adults metacogitate (Whimbey, 1976). The most likely reason is that we do not take the time to reflect on our experiences. Students often do not take the time to wonder why we are doing what we are doing. They seldom question themselves about their own learning strategies or evaluate the efficiency of their own performance. Some children virtually have no idea of what they should do when they confront a problem and are often unable to explain their strategies of decision making (Sternberg and Wagner, 1982). When teachers ask, “How did you solve that problem; what strategies did you have in mind”? or, “Tell us what went on in your head to come up with that conclusion”. Students often respond by saying, “I don’t know, I just did it.’
‘When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself Plato’
We want our students to perform well on complex cognitive tasks. A simple example of this might be drawn from a reading task. It is a common experience while reading a passage to have our minds “wander” from the pages. We “see” the words but no meaning is being produced. Suddenly we realize that we are not concentrating and that we’ve lost contact with the meaning of the text. We “recover” by returning to the passage to find our place, matching it with the last thought we can remember, and, once having found it, reading on with connectedness. This inner awareness and the strategy of recovery are components of metacognition.
Last week Mr Greg Watson, lecturer of an Education, Service-Learning and Social Justice unit at Notre Dame University here in Perth, brought some of his Education students to visit St Emilie’s after doing the same in 2013.
Greg is very keen to give his students the opportunity of listening and speaking with staff and students here at St Emilie’s in regard to our primary school service-learning program and to hear what we are doing as a whole school in the social justice area.
Students from the early years to Year 6 met and chatted with our guests and we shared a summary document of all the different ways we work hard to promote justice in our school.
It was a very rewarding experience for all and our students once again did us very proud as they spoke confidently and enthusiastically about how they see our school vision for justice operating in our school and beyond into the wider world!
On the 14th of August Mr Sayer, came to St Emilie’s to conduct a few experiments with Year 6G. It was an amazing experience watching him teaching us about the concept of FORCE in a really fun way. We got to see Mr Sayer drop a cup with a hole in it and while it was falling, the water stopped coming out of the hole! We also watched a tin in the staffroom. The boiling water inside the tin and the cold water poured over the tin helped it to shrink. We also watched when Mr Sayer tried to shrink a milo tin but it did not end up working. “It did not work because it was corrugated” said Jace.
The whole thing was mind blowing and amazing. “It made me so interested to find out what else Mr Sayer has in store,” said Kat. All of 6G think this has been the best science lesson ever. We would like to thank you Mrs Cogger and Mr Sayer for this amazing experience and we hope we can have more of these!
The Book Week Theme for 2014 is all about CONNECTING to reading …
Below are some ideas to help your children get into the spirit of reading at home!
Perhaps once the challenges are completed you might be able to buy a new book for your child’s bedroom reading shelf – or visit the library to borrow a couple of new books!
Challenge One: Connect with your Family
Read a book to a family member, parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle or perhaps even your pet!
Challenge Two: Connect to Reading and CREATE
Cooking or crafting is a great way to engage with some purposeful reading. Choose a recipe book from home or the library and cook a recipe from this book or choose a craft book, read and follow the instructions and CREATE!
Challenge Three: Connect from Afar
Read a book to someone you know living interstate or overseas. You might like to use Skype or a phone or you may like to record yourself reading a book and email it to someone ( with parent permission).
Challenge Four: Connect with an Author or Illustrator
Look up one of your favourite authors or illustrators online. Leave a message on their webpage, blog, Facebook page (with parental guidance) or Instagram account (with parental guidance) telling them why you love their work.
Challenge Five: Connect with a Text
Read a text you don’t normally read – perhaps a graphic novel, a newspaper, a magazine, comic strip, instruction manual for your microwave…anything at all! Record here the type of text you connected with.
Challenge Six: Connect with History
Read a historical fiction book or a non-fiction book about a particular time in history which you are interested in.
Challenge Seven: Connect with Technology
Read a text (for example a newspaper, magazine, blog entry or book) using a Kindle, iPad, computer or other device. Many libraries allow you to borrow e-books.
Challenge Eight: Connect with Friends
Lend a book you love to a friend and tell them why you enjoyed this book.
Challenge Nine: Connect with Others
Donate a book (a second hand one you no longer want, or a new one) to a charity or school or library.