Monday, September 16, 2013

Time Capsules - What Is Time?

Time capsules...Do Not Open Until the End of First Grade!

We launched our Investigative Research/Project Work this year by thinking about the nature of time, which is the theme of this year's Sabot Umbrella Project.  While the children are very familiar with the vocabulary relative to counting and measuring time, we are still working to think more meaningfully about the definition and very nature of time. This will be an ongoing theme throughout the year, but we have taken our preliminary discussions and used them to begin thinking about how our bodies change throughout the course of the year.  I related to the students that as we compiled photographs to go into their end-of-year portfolios, my last class of first graders were totally astonished by how much they had grown. 

To tie in with our umbrella theme, our science curriculum (relative to the use of tools for scientific measurement), and data analysis (a unit unto itself in our math curriculum for first grade), the children created their own time capsules to think about how they will change over time. They used both standard and non-standard units of measurement to determine their height (connecting pop cubes, tape measures, and yardsticks), which gave them hands-on experience in using measurement tools. We also recorded how many teeth they have lost so far. Each child will report to me their tooth loss throughout the year and we will use this data compilation to record change over time individually and collectively. 

Why do you think we are measuring ourselves?
W:  At the end of the year we will measure ourselves and by the end of the year, we will grow.
R: We will be as tall as the ceiling!
J:  [At the end of the year] I will be magic. 

They recorded their own data about their likes and dislikes so that we can see if these too can change over time.  Personal predictions about the future were also included to see if they might come true at the end of the year.  All of this is a very introductory way of helping the children think about a very complex subject through personal experience, while capturing a moment in time in their lives as children.  At the end of the year, the children will open up their time capsules and evaluate any changes qualitatively and quantitatively - and open up another rich discussion on the nature of time. 


Together the children brainstormed a list: 
“Mini-“(or milli-)seconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years
 L:  If you count to 16, that’s time.

The understanding seemed to be that time is counting, or measuring something.  The question was then posed:  What exactly are we counting – or measuring?
C: It doesn’t really make sense. 

How are these things related? 
All:  Minutes are related to seconds, minutes are related to hours, and days are related to months. 
N:  Centuries!  That’s a hundred years!
C:  Days off!  Workers need a day off.
T:  Generations.

The children explored the idea that generations are related to people.  Examples they provided were of grandparents – parents – children. 
C:  It’s like if someone says, “In five minutes, we are going to leave,” and then it’s five minutes.  A year is really like time. It’s like how many years you’ve lived.
T:  It’s seasoning you use.  [thyme]

M: Time is basically the future.

 Is it only the future?
E:  And the past.
C:  Olden days.  We can’t see the future.
A.L.:  We can see the past.
What is today?
C:  Every day is the future, because you live life in the future.  Everything we do is the future.
N:  Every word you speak is the future.
If yesterday is in the past, and tomorrow is in the future, what is today?
A:  This morning was the past.  This afternoon is the future. 
M: The future never comes because it is always tomorrow.

What is the present?
Many children replied “past-future!” 
C: Now is the future.
J:  In one second, it will be the future. 
C:  All these hours and minutes and centuries are the future. 
A.C.:  [Our] morning work is the past and future because it happens every day (except the weekends). 
The children were reminded that we have been reviewing our schedule over the past few days with the terms:  during, before, after, first, and last.
N:  I know what time is – time periods. 

M:  “Now” is like mixing vanilla and chocolate ice-cream.  [Describes how you can get both in a gallon of ice-cream, and how you can get both flavors in one scoop].  “Now” is like mixing past and future.


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