First Grade Reading: Selective Attention and Change Blindness

Given that we’ve spent this session of First Grade Enrichment Reading talking about mysteries and paying attention to details and clues, I thought we’d spend our last class meeting this session discussing Selective Attention and Change Blindness.  (I realize these are not typical first grade fare, but that doesn’t mean the kids didn’t understand the concepts when we discussed them in class!).

First, we watched this little clip, and the students diligently counted the number of times that the players wearing white passed the ball:

The Monkey Business Illusion

I don’t want to spoil it with an explanation, so I’ll just ask: did you get it?  And let you know that many of the kids did not.  We talked about why this is, and what it would mean if our brains were constantly paying attention to every single thing we could see and giving us constant feedback about those things.  Then, we watched this clip:


Again, I’m not going to spoil it.  If you watch it, discuss the clip with your child and ask what s/he thought of it.  I’m guessing they’ll have quite a bit to say!

We will have new enrichment reading groups after winter break, and a new unit of study as well.  I wish all of you a winter break full of fun and family togetherness, with some relaxation mixed in for good measure!

First Grade Enrichment Language Arts: Secret Codes

Last week in First Grade Enrichment Reading, we did some secret code work.  We started class with a discussion of different kinds of secret codes.  I then gave the students a code packet, introduced the different types of codes included in the packet, and asked them to choose one to work on in class.  Most students chose a grid code, but some worked on Morse Code, a few chose sign language, and a handful worked with dominoes or ship’s flags.

The kids loved trying to decode the secret messages.  Most of them did not finish, and the packet itself was not homework.  Instead, I gave them a different code that required following ordinal directions to find different letters of a message.

We did talk a little about how “decoding” is the word used to describe the process of translating a printed word into sound, and how decoding is an important part of learning to read.  I don’t know that they really made the connection between the different kinds of decoding, and that’s okay.


Second Grade Enrichment Language Arts: Wastebasket Dig

Last Friday, the second grade humanities students embarked on an official archaeological dig.  Each group of 3 or 4 students was given a wastebasket from a TJ classroom.  Each student had a pair of gloves and a recording sheet.  Here are the supplies before the students arrived:



The students put on their gloves as soon as they arrived and immediately got to work, excavating the items from the wastebasket. They knew that to reconstruct the day of the class who had generated the trash, they needed to be careful to excavate the items in order.  They painstakingly recorded each item on their recording sheets.


The kids also analyzed the artifacts as they excavated, knowing that at the conclusion of the dig they needed to know:  What grade level generated the trash?  What is that class studying in language arts, math, science, and social studies?  What did they do on the day they used this wastebasket?  In what order did the events occur?




In the end, this trash really was our treasure!  The kids aren’t finished yet — they will be drawing conclusions next week — so I won’t spoil the outcome by thanking my helpers.  Stay tuned next week to hear about how the kids classify their findings and what they conclude about what they uncovered.

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