21 Jan 2020

Welcome Reading Dogs Tess, Ginger and Millie!

We had our first Reading Dogs sessions this week! Thank you to our Grade 1 and 2 classes for being our first groups and helping us learn all about how Reading Dogs work. The students had a wonderful time and did a super job reading and interacting with the dogs. We were very proud of our students reading skills, compassion and model behavior.

Each class visited the library and divided into three groups. The students selected two or three just-right books to read and came ready with their books in hand. Each small group was made up of six or seven students. We sat in a small circle on the floor and our reading dog and the handler joined us. The first five minutes were spent getting to know our new reading buddies. Students asked questions about the dogs' likes and dislikes, age, diet, experiences and travel. For example, “Is Ginger a boy or a girl? How old is Tess? What does Millie like to do for fun? How long has Ginger been a reading dog?”

When then began our reading. Working in partnerships, students read to the doggie companions. Students instinctively turned their books toward the dogs inside the circle. While their friends read, the other students in the group gently pet and enjoyed the dogs. We asked each other some questions about our reading and then moved to the next partner group - all students got a chance to read. Students were relaxed and attentive, happy and focused.

The last 5 minutes of our session were for asking more questions, petting, snuggling and saying thank you and good-bye! A couple of the dog handlers also gave treats for the students to give the dogs as a reward for their good behavior.

We can't wait for our next visit with our adorable reading friends. All grade levels will gave an opportunity to participate in January and February. Stay tuned for more information on the detailed schedule of classes.

Learn more about the benefits of the Reading Dogs program from Dubai-based company, The Animal Agency. An article from the Washington Post shares some experiences of students in a reading dog program in the United States: Baltimore children practice reading with dogs, learn compassion for animals

13 Jan 2020

Reading Dogs to Visit ES Library

ASD’s Elementary Library is excited to share our first Reading Dogs sessions in partnership with The Animal Agency. Grades 1 and 2 will participate from January 21-28, 2020.

Research supports that reading to a dog helps children relax into reading, open up, try harder and have fun reading.  Specially chosen, child-friendly, extremely calm dogs are the perfect reading companions.  
Reading sessions will take place in our ES Library. During the 30 min session, each child will have the chance to read to a dog.  Classroom teachers will divide the class into three groups of 6-7 students and select a just-right book for each group.
The Animal Agency supplies the canine companions.  Each dog has completed an assessment with a qualified dog trainer and behaviourist and awarded a certificate of suitability based on temperament, obedience and patient nature.  Each dog also has a clean bill of health by their vet, an up to date vaccination book and pet passport. 

ASD’s reading dogs will be Tess, Millie and Ginger. Please find out more about our reading dogs! We can't wait to read with our new friends.

Read more about the benefits and research on reading with dogs.

4 Nov 2019

The Pumpkin Challenge

The challenge: ASD students, can you build a structure to support the weight of a pumpkin?

The response: YES, of course we can! And, we can do it in so many different and creative ways!

Students used Keva planks and legos to build their structures. Some worked individually, some worked in pairs or small groups. Some went for height, some went for design. Highlights included a suspension bridge, a tower with inclosed pumpkins inside and a lego village that supported the weight of four pumpkins. 

Challenge accomplished and exceeded! Well done, ASD builders, engineers and architects. A new question for you, what will be our next design challenge?

Worm Wonderings

The new worm farm in the ES Library is sparking many wonderings! After enjoying some time holding and playing with earthworms, K1 students were ready for some inquiry learning. Students observed the worms closely and love how they feel in their hands. As they held and watched their worms in their environment, many questions came up...

What do worms eat? Why do they live in the soil? How do worms have babies? Are there girls worms and boy worms? How big does a worm grow? Does a worm bite? How can you tell where their heads are? How do worms move?

A small group of students gathered some of their questions to investigate. Students used books and the electronic resource PebbleGo to search for answers. When we came across information about one of our questions, students drew pictures or asked teachers to help them write words. 

As a group, our K1 researchers learned so much about earthworms! We gathered our new knowledge together and went back to the classroom to share with all of our friends. The research group was very proud to present their findings. 

Grade 2 students have also been digging deep (get it?) into worms. Students generated and sorted their questions into categories. Students looked at all the questions they had and decided what they wanted to learn more about.

Next, students chose a method of note-taking to gathering their information. Some students used a web, some drew and labeled a model, others used a t-chart organizer. Choice was embedded throughout the investigation - in terms of what students wanted to research, which resources they used and which tool they used to take their notes.

Our next steps will be revisiting our questions to learn more and sharing our new learning with friends! Perhaps we can have K1 and Grade 2 share their learning with each other. Stay tuned!

Our most recent learners to investigate our worms -- our teachers! Elementary teachers spent time after school thinking about how we can help our students learn through inquiry. We put ourselves in our students shoes and experienced the power of asking our own questions and leading our own learning.

21 Oct 2019

Building to Learn, Learning to Build

Our building installations have sparked amazing learning in the library. We are observing students working collaboratively, demonstrating perseverance and working through a design process. Students are building to solve problems, test prototypes, and explain their thinking. 

K2 students are investigating pushes and pulls. We gave the students a challenge to move a ball from a high surface into a jar. They were able to use any building materials, including tracks, tubes, lego bricks, Keva planks or even furniture. Students worked in teams to develop designs and test prototypes. We discovered that our first ideas often did not work and needed modified. Some teams successfully moved the ball into the jar and others are looking forward to trying again and testing out new ways ideas.

Students in K1 used the lego wall to build vertically and create a "rocket ship control panel." Working in a group, students discussed how various parts could be used for different controls. Moving parts were particularly useful for creating switches, buttons and levers. As the students added to the network of controls, their play shifted from constructive to imaginative play. The group conducted an entire launch sequence, not to mention the fact they also were able to ward off enemies with their built-in spy cameras!

Students across all grade levels are investigating with Keva planks. We now have over 2,000 planks available for building in the library and still there is not enough to keep up with our increasingly adept builders. Some students work individually to construct the tallest structure possible, other work cooperatively to build complex cities and inter-connected designs. Many students are choosing to visit the library during their free time at recess, morning and after-school to build and try new designs. Bridges and cantilevers are the latest challenge to push the thinking of our construction and architecture experts.