Friday, March 13, 2015

Book Study:Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites....Chapter 3 Field Trips!!

I have been so excited to get my copy of this book in the mail!

When it came I sat down and started looking through it right away. When I got to chapter three I just got so excited.  I kept saying, Yup, that's me!  and Ohhh, I need to remember that.  Lots of yellow highlighting and notes in the margins so I would remember.

Then Science Fair came,
and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and put my thoughts on paper.  I want to tell you about Science Fair, but that will have to wait for another day (that is however, a short little field trip for the kids to go see all the projects) 

My first thought as I read this chapter was how lucky we are to have an outdoor education area at our school.  The quote from the book that says that just a change of scenery can do a world of good for activating the brain and engaging the child in learning, really struck home for me.  We have this wonderful area that doesn't get used enough.  I love going out there from time to time, but I could use it so much more.
Butterfly Time
Looking under rocks.

Let me tell you a story about what happened today.  We have been participating in The Groundhog Project, where we were trying to decide if the groundhog was a good weather forecaster.  We have been keeping track of our data and posting it online with schools from across United States and Canada.  Today was the last day and we were supposed to vote if our Groundhog was correct.  Our groundhog was, we had an early spring.  So I asked my students how they knew and suggested we go out back to check if we could see signs of spring.  We talked about what we might look for, and then got ready to go.  One student suggested we take whiteboards and paper to take notes (we often use our whiteboards as "desks" when we are sitting on the floor).  Brilliant!!  Of course, what a great idea!  Everybody wanted a whiteboard and some paper, so out we went.  We looked around, observed closely, took notes, shared our findings with our partners, I showed some things I observed (differences in leaf buds), and we gathered on our platform, where we have these table/benches, to share altogether.  Even as we walked back to the classroom we were finding more signs.
When we got back to the classroom, someone asked what are we going to do with our notes.  Well of course, we need to do something....

I suggested we write an essay, a paragraph telling about what we saw.  A few quick reviews about starting with your topic and a good introductory sentence, then following with your details and my students were off to write.  Amazingly not five minutes and they were done....35 minutes and I had to make them stop to go to lunch.  I did have to keep reminding them that we were inside and writing, because they did want to continue their discussions.  I have some wonderful pieces of writing from them!  Authentic writing that they were excited about.

I have used that outdoor education area before.  I can't take my students to a butterfly house at a zoo, so we build one out back, with a pop-up screen porch.

I wrote  about it here.  My students go outside and into the tent to get up close and personal with the butterflies.

Every community has places unique to that community where students can go and get some authentic learning.  In second grade this year we are learning about money.  Our principal has connections with a local bank.  We are going to tour the bank and learn even more about our money, where it goes and why it is important to be able to count our money so we can save and spend wisely.

 No money for buses??....we have walked to our library before, taken a tour, and gotten an application for a library card.

We have a hill close by loaded with fossils.  It is a second grade tradition to go with local geologists and hunt for fossils.

We have a NOAA weather station in town, and fourth grade went on a field trip there just last week....we are having them come to us.  Bringing experts in is a great way to take a field trip without ever having to leave the building.  Our local Fish and Wildlife guys come and do presentations for the classrooms upon request (so does the BLM and Forest Service).  Dentists, Police Officers, and Fireman also like coming to school.  The Lion's Club recently did a presentation for the second grade about the flag and every student was giving a little flag.  That is another benefit to having someone come to you....they often bring giveaways.  Kids love free stuff.

My take away from this chapter....if your students' brains are seeming slow and sleepy, wake them up with a little change of scenery!
For more GREAT ideas about field trips and take-aways from this chapter head over to Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten.  She is hosting this chapter and this linky.  Such awesome ideas!!  You won't want to miss them!

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