Thursday, September 26, 2013

Learning in the Field

Soon the students will learn in the field. They'll visit a local nature preserve in our area to spend the day as young naturalists studying the environment around them. We created this trip for many reasons. First, we want to send the message that learning doesn't just happen in school; learning happens everywhere. Next, we want to introduce the children to naturalists' and environmentalists' study by doing what these scientists do. Hence students will bring "wonder" notebooks, colored pencils, a backpack, lunch, and snacks for the day in the field. In addition, we want children to have the chance to work with dedicated experts, naturalists who know the land and the study of the land well. A final added benefit is that this trip will give students and teachers a time to learn with joy and build community in a beautiful, natural setting during the still fresh days of the school year.

As the excited students gather in the classroom, I'll make sure to remind them that this is still school, and that we have to bring our best listening, reading, writing, and thinking skills along with us. I'll also have to remember to remind them all to bring their lunches, backpacks, observation tools, and snacks.  As we board the bus, I'll take attendance to make sure we haven't missed any latecomers. Then I'll pick up the check from the office, gather the healthy supplies from the nurse, and bring the camera too so we can record this wonderful day.

We'll begin the day with focus on a short talk by the Farm's education director, and then we'll begin a number of habitat explorations. During that time I'll encourage students to find quiet places to use their five senses to "read the landscape," and record their findings in their wonder books.  During lunch students will run and play, and then we'll have time for farm chores too.  I'm hoping that in addition to the science learned, students will have a chance to build new vocabulary, practice writing, and get to know a new place that we'll visit a few more times during the year--a place they might want to return to with their families as well.

Field studies have the potential to be wonderful additions to the school program.  The key to the field study success is planning, investment, preparation, and a good attitude. I wonder what new ideas we'll have after this extraordinary school day.  Stay tuned.