Monday, August 10, 2009

Assignment 1: First Graders Observe the Garden

When Emily suggested that she wanted her first graders to work in the school garden this year, I was SO excited! At last I had a teacher who was not only interested but willing to initiate outdoor learning. As a teacher who's main goal it is to invite students to inquire and think through the lens of science, I was ready, willing, and able to make this happen.

Last week, we had our first class together. The students sat before me in the classroom and I told them we were going to learn like scientists this year and find out about nature. We would use our school garden to see what we could find out. I told them that today we would go out into the garden with a clipboard, a sheet of paper, and a pencil and record what we could find. The kids were wide-eyed. This was going to be exciting!
I made a chart that said, "What is in our garden?" I made a t-chart and on one column wrote, "predictions". I said, this is a good guess about what we might find out there. When we come back we'll see if we were on the right track. We made our predictions-- rocks, ants, earthworms, dirt, flowers, bees, etc...
Each student carried their own materials. (We made sure to bring extra pencils-just in case.) We walked to our garden and circled around it. The kids began talking excitedly about what they were seeing. I pointed out an acorn, a dead beetle, and they busily pointed out many other things. The students sketched and wrote on their papers. They got in small groups or partners to share out loud what they were seeing. The teacher seemed a little nervous about all the talking, but I said-- this is exactly what we want. They are talking about their findings. It's perfectly scientific!

We got back into our line and walked to the classroom. We compared our observations with our predictions. I made check marks on our predictions that matched our observations and added new things we hadn't thought of. We talked about how it was ok to not know something but to find it out. It was an exciting science experience and good groundwork for our future explorations and investigations in the schoolyard garden.

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