Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Phase 1: Finding out what we already know about trees

The apple study was a wonderful project and it was a great introduction for the students and me to the project-based approach to learning. Phase 1 of project based learning involves finding out what the student's know about our new topic. It's such a new change for me to have so many trees around-and the variety is amazing! When planning field trips this year, I was frustrated with the lack of museums but I've recently discovered that nature is upstate New York's "museums." I am inspired to include as much of it within our classroom as possible!
A majestic tree on Delaware Ave.
During our morning meeting, we talked about things we already knew about trees and we looked at the chart I made of a tree. We took advantage of the beautiful weather today and went outside to look at all the trees surrounding our school to see what we would notice.
I encouraged the kids to feel the bark. O.B said, "It's like the skin of the tree."
The students feel the branches and leaves.
Playing with the branches.
Some thought that the bark was soft, others hard.
They were fascinated by the pine cones on this tree. Many noted how small they were and called them "baby pine cones."
Following our outdoor excursion, we talked about our noticings.
D.K said, "I picked leaves. They felt like a tag."
J.C said, "It feels a little hard and a little soft" (bark)
K.M said, "Branches"
A.R said, "I saw leaves."
T.S said, "I couldn't see the roots."

The children then sketched trees. I compiled the sketches and what each student said into a video. The video was made using iMovie on the Mac.

I am excited about where this project will take us! Hopefully there will be another good weather day this week so we can go outside to make bark imprints!

Food for thought! One of my colleagues from New York City posted this video on her blog and I found it interesting and so relevant to where I am in terms of my thinking in the classroom.

"Our goal is to ensure that they leave with a better sense of how to make things than when they arrived and the deep internal realization that they can figure things out by fooling around. Every step in a project is a step towards sweet success or gleeful calamity. Success is in the doing and failures are celebrated and analyzed."