On the positive side, the new learning has been engaging for all. The best part has been the sense of wonder displayed in children's eyes as they make multiple discoveries related to living systems, chemistry, Earth science, physics, and STEAM activities. What's also been positive is that last summer we came up with a good way to share the curriculum responsibility, created supporting websites, and acquired lots of good hands-on tools and materials with which to teach the curriculum.
Time, space, and skill have been the challenges. The time to set-up, clean-up, and prep the science lessons are extensive. With about an hour a day for prep and planning for all teaching, there simply isn't a lot of time to do this work. As far as space goes, to utilize the materials in child-friendly, organized ways demands space, and that means it's time to reorganize the classroom to make space for all those materials. Fortunately I will be getting some new storage units next year and will also use what I have this year to reorganize the set-up in the days ahead. And, of course, skill has been a challenge too--when you teach an activity for the first time it is difficult to anticipate the challenges that the activity will present, and once you've led an activity or learning experience multiple times, you gain greater skill with the activity, materials, and needed management/leadership. I'm expecting that my skills with the curriculum will be better next year which I will welcome as that will mean less chaos and more learning.
So in the days ahead, the big focus will include the following:
- cleaning, organizing materials
- leading a few more experiments
- updating river/wetlands River Junior Ranger Packets/Teaching
- working with colleagues to prep and plan for a couple of field experiences
- readying for head starting frogs and toads
- more planting
- a water bottle STEAM activity
- the Global Cardboard Challenge
The children's enthusiasm for the subject is the energy that motivates and inspires this work. Onward.