Posted by: jwhiff | April 17, 2011

Individual Projects and Explorations

“If a child is to keep alive his sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of atleast one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

Rachel Carson

I have been waiting a long time to use that quote, and now I finally feel like I can.  I have always been dedicated to providing the most real and engaging activities to my students, from math and science to reading and music (and everything in between).  However, I always felt like I fell short of the mark I was shooting for.  This year, I have finally glimpsed what happens when you simply take students outside and share your enthusiasm for what you discover there.

This week, I was working with a select group of students on their individual projects.  I also had the great fortune to work with Ruth once again and also Rod MacVicar.  My lucky sons, as always, got to tag along and share the enthusiasm not only of the adults leading the excursions, but also of the students lucky enough to be selected for some special science education this week.

Thursday afternoon, despite the sleet and wind, I led a very excited group of boys as they searched for evidence of beavers on Lafarge Lake.  I found it extremely interesting how unaware of the terrible weather they seemed to be while engaged in discovery of this type.   We were out for an hour in terribly cold and wet conditions and yet those boys explored without a single complaint and kept going when the adults would have gladly turned around and headed back for the vehicles!!

I was lucky to have Ruth join me for our regular Friday outing to the Inlet.  We were hoping for squirrels, gulls and new bird sightings.  Strangely, we had little success sighting much of anything (other than gulls), but the kids had a great chance to engage with Ruth on their topics and enjoy a great walk on a warm, sunny day.  Later in the evening on Friday, I returned to the Inlet with my family on a bike ride and made all kinds of bird and squirrel sightings.  Interesting!  I expected many more creatures to be out enjoying the sunshine of the early afternoon, rather than the cooler, dimmer evening.  Tide was in later, though.  Perhaps that had something to do with it.

Then came Saturday.  One of my lucky students was given the opportunity to gather plankton with Ruth and Rod at the Reed Point Marine Education Centre.  I gathered up my two sons along with this student and her friend, and headed out to Reed Point at around 10:00am.  For two hours, the kids were treated to an action-packed adventure, including riding out on Rod’s boat, gathering macro and microscopic plankton in two different nets, gathering sea stars off of the dock and discovering all kinds of different plants and animals that are normally too small for us to notice!  What lucky kids.

The painting at the beginning of this blog entry (created by my four year old son) was inspired by his outing with Ruth and Rod.  Really, my kids have been the luckiest of all.  They have had so many formative experiences this year.  They are becoming true lovers and observers of nature.  Really, this is my hope for all of my students.

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