Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Springtime = Nature

A few weeks ago I took my class on a field trip to "Friends of the Rappahanock".  They are our local grassroots, conservation organization whose prime mission is to help protect our river, wetlands and environment.

We were blessed with a beautiful day. Our students were treated to a wonderful nature walk along the canal where we saw turtles, birds, and even a little green snake!

On this field trip, my students learned  what a wetland is and does for the environment.  This particular wetland is right in the middle of our little town, just down the hill from the hospital, and yet to most of our students it was a hidden treat that they did not know about.

Many of our kids come from apartment dwellings where they are latch key kids.  Going outside after school to play is not an option.   Many of my kid speak of going home and either watching TV or playing video games because their parents are trying to keep them home and safe.  I get that..they are working parents who may not be home until 6 or 7 at night.  On the flip side, I have students from "middle class" families as well who are so busy every night with sports, church, dance, etc... that they, too, have no time to just "play"

While we were walking I asked my kids, "Have you ever caught a frog?"  Astoundingly, most of them said no.   Throughout the day, they were fascinated by inchworms (they were everywhere that day!), butterflies and the outdoor air.  You could see the stress melting away as they simply enjoyed nature at its best.

We enjoyed the beautiful artwork that was also incorporated into the location.  Check out this fish!  It has paintings that show areas around our town as well as conservation efforts.

Another hidden treasure was this rock that was painted and posted next to a beautiful tree.  It was put there as a retirement gift for the former director.  I was really moved by it because...well, we all love the Lorax.  Plus I thought, we could do this at our school too! 

So I leave you with this...during this stressful state testing time...don't forget to get outside and enjoy nature with your kids.  You may be the only role model they have for simply relaxing and enjoying the moment.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

I wrote an article!!!

Many of you who read my blog know that I am a die hard FOSS fan.  I have been using FOSS in my fourth grade classroom for over seven years with staggering results and understanding.  Six years ago, I also began consulting for the company which has led to many exciting training opportunities in Connecticut, Philadelphia and even San Fransisco. I have been blessed to reach out and train teachers in Virginia Beach, Farmville, Winchester and the little towns of Warsaw and Giles Co. I have met some amazing teachers who truly want to engage their students and learn more about good science education.

I have also worked very hard in my own school to support and grow science education.  But, I have never once done these things alone. With the support of Kip Bisignano, my FOSS sales rep, and many others we have built a pretty amazing little school.

Recently, I was asked to write an article to show what we have done to create our STEAM school for the FOSS newsletter.  To read more about what we are doing at our "little school with big dreams" you can access the newsletter at this link.

I hope that you will see that this is a TEAM effort, not one that can be done by one person.  You must first have a vision, a strong leader (at your school and district), and a professional learning community with staff who teach "kids not test scores".

Those of you who read my blog may also wonder why I haven't been as active with my posts lately.  After reading this, you will probably see why! (LOL)  Been a little busy....on top of two challenging classrooms the past two years with some serious needs.

 However, I have recently come to realize that this is what feeds my soul. I have missed blogging about the wonderful things my kids are doing (challenging or not).  We have learned how to use tableaus to show understanding of concepts in the dramatic art form, visual arts and music.  We are working on creating a nature trail at our school with a partnership from a local Native American group (the Patawomack tribe) and an Eagle Scout to create a replica of a longhouse in our woods.  Next year, we are hoping to plan and implement a curriculum to expose our students more to the outdoors.  Ideas include an outdoor stage, trail, music wall and more.  My team mate and I have successfully implemented reading in the content area in our science and social studies blocks; specifically text structures of cause/effect, compare/contrast, fact/opinion, problem & solutions and even main idea. My personal goal for next year is to look at special education students and ways to modify instruction in the classroom so that they can be successful in science as well as math and reading.

So, I am challenging myself to write at least two blogs a month for the next year.  I am hopeful to meet this goal with your encouragement and support!