Posted by: jwhiff | November 14, 2010

Reflections on the Project So Far…

I’m right in the middle of report cards and this always prompts me to be pretty critical of myself.  Reporting is easy (although time consuming) so long as you have good, organized data to draw on.  Well…I have data, but it is not easy to draw on for the purposes of reporting.  So, the organized, efficient side of myself is currently looming in front of the creative, adventurous side of me with her arms folded across her chest, tapping her foot and hosting a rather unimpressed look on her face.   A lot of science has been going on, but it is pretty messy.

Now, to be fair to myself, I knew that this project was going to come together over the course of the year, and not over the course of a single term.  I knew that I would need to allow time for the best ideas to develop and to be able to schedule times to meet, get to know, and work with our experts on the Inlet.  I was right.  Still, I can see places where I could have made the early stages of the project more effective for the kids and more efficient for the purposes of developing their understanding in relation to learning objectives.

First, I should have organized a few field trips to the Inlet at the very beginning of the project.  This was tough to do given how much time it took to gather all of the parent information (criminal record checks, insurance forms etc), but still would have been the best thing if I could have managed it.  I did not realize at the time just how beneficial it is for the students to be able to simply create an inventory of all the life they see.  Now that we have started to do this, I can see how we can use the information in these lists as a starting place for generating food webs, studying habitat and discussing animal adaptations.  I started this project by introducing those concepts first.  As a result, the first activities on these concepts were a bit uninspired and forced.  I am now revisiting those concepts because we have a lists, notes and photos of interesting creatures that we have actually seen.

Plus, the field trips inspire so much wonder and curiosity!  At the start of the project, I knew I needed to inspire the kids, but it is tough to do inside a classroom.  I took them outside to our forest to try to generate some excitement, but this ended up being not as purposeful as I would have liked.

Second, I would not create a big question without the input of the kids.  I am very curious about the mud, but this is my question.  It would have made more sense (and it still makes sense) to take the kids to the Inlet for the purpose of noticing what might be having a negative impact on the Inlet.  They can then create an inventory of items that might be causing trouble or evidence that it once was.  The mud, with its smell and colour, could have become one of many items that might be evidence of a problem.  Then the students could have chosen an item to study in terms of the impact it might be having.  This would have been much more valuable.

Anyway, it is never too late to make adjustments.  I still will be working on this project all year, even if I need to work on other science objectives as well.  I will be beginning a focus on simple machines soon.  It will be interesting to see how I can make this overlap work.


  1. Hi Mrs. Whiffin,
    I’ve read a lot of your posts and you constantly refer to mud. Now considering I don’t spend much time studying mud I was curious as to what effect it has on the environment and what a role it plays in an ecosystem.


  2. Another good question, Kaleb. Mud can be just fine, but this mud seemed a little strange to me. It was so dark and smelly. When I first encountered it, I thought for sure that I was dealing with stuff that wasn’t quite natural. It had accumulated at the base of the old shingle factory, making me think it had something to do with it. It is also possible that it is completely natural, in which case it is part of the ecosystem, not something that is negatively impacting it.

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