Friday, April 15, 2011

Learning Lessons from the Earth

Like last months Earth Hour, the coming of Earth Day is a great way to teach about recycling, the environment and create an awareness about energy usage and pollution.

Around here a favorite thing to do is the garbage walk. Bring gloves and garbage bags, but take these things to your favorite park and walk the edge of the woods with your kids. Pick up stray bits of garbage that have either been littered or blown in on the wind... This helps teach an awareness of the growth and cycles of the Earth, plus what leaving all that mess about does to it.

As plants are growing more and the planet is greening up – at least here in the northern hemisphere, this is also a good time to take out the string and ruler and mark the growth of the plants you looked at last month.

If you have Willow trees near – now is a great time to mark a spot on a low hanging branch to watch and record it's growth as well, and then use that as a spring board for teaching how Willow trees need water in abundance and that they can be used as a marker for not only the volume of water in the ground but for the quality of the water. Granted it can not be used as the only marker, but is a good indicator of the water being healthy if the tree is healthy.

What lessons do you let nature teach your students (other than 'leaves of three, let them be')?

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Day

This has been a great day for us to teach following directions. Your preschooler to grade two kids might not get it, but third grade and up will learn well from it.

A favorite activity of mine is to introduce the pop quiz with instructions at the top and questions at the bottom. Usually the questions are a step up in difficulty from what my students are at presently but they do have merit in reinforcing skills learned or introducing items to think about.

The top of the quiz is what really matters. Be clear and concise in directions, but include that they must be followed. Then limit that the only thing that truly needs to be answered is the student's name and date...

Those that put the name at the top as well as the date have followed instructions, and pass... the assignment is an extra credit, vs content as normally included in the grade book. Those that do not pass do not negatively impact their grade for the class, they just don't get the extra boost. No matter what, you are introducing the concept of analysis of their materials to the child, and that in of itself is a lesson that no grade can be given for – it's simply priceless.