My HUGE field trip to Stone Lab has come to an end. After a week filled of splashing across Alligator Bar for inverts, hiking across the island for the ornithology lesson, peering into the microscopes to find the MONSTERS (plankton) in the water, and studying fish anatomy hands-on, our outdoor learning at Gibralter Island is at the end...or is it?
If you followed our class twitter feed (@lacrossescience), (which not many do yet :) )we posted pictures of the invertebrate walk, plankton study, and more! Each time I took pictures, I was just grinning from ear to ear! The instructors were working with my kids as scientists. They were putting the learning in their hands, and treating them with the upmost respect. This is one of the major reason why I DON'T have discipline problems on this trip. The kids are SO engaged, and they are treated like scientists.
Now I have to follow that up in my classroom! It would be insulting to give that type of control in learning to my students and then take away come Monday.
So, how do I do that? How do I carry on those conversations...continue the ownership in learning...and show my scientists that THEY have the power to question?
It points directly to Inquiry/Problem/Project Based learning. If you see your students THRIVE in this environment, I have to offer it in every situation possible. And, I have to be able to connect these high interest experiences to the LESS interesting realities...our 5th grade Standardized test for science.
What's the bridge? How do I connect this gap?
I'm looking at an experience that points a student towards critical thinking, hands-on learning...
but, the final assessment of the year for them is a test which has only some components of that. The test does attempt to gauge problem solving abilities in various questions...but...yeah.
So, here is my first direction. Take those high interest activities and internalized material and carry on the conversation through EDMODO. Let's blog/write about your experience. Let's draw record of what we learned on the iPad drawing apps. Let's reflect on the tools used as scientists.
We need to share our ideas...clearly, with purpose.
Next, show them how scientists DO keep record, DO design research investigations, and DO share. Our studies must include many opportunities to design, test, fail, and retry...that's the only way to learn!
But, on all levels, I must walk the fine line of keeping it student inquiry based, but pointing back to those key standards and methods (multiple choice, short and extended response) that they will be assessed on by the state. I have to give them the experiences to do the best they can on the test...without taking the momentum that we have away.