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Monday, November 12, 2012

Scientific Method Monday


Twenty minutes just isn't enough. (Well...more like, thirty minutes isn't enough, because let's face it - who actually ever ends the lessons on time?)

The best part of the whole shift is always those thirty or so too-short minutes when our students come out and bombard us with questions, random facts, off-topic observations, and general kindergarten/1st grade nonsense. I say "best part" rather easily in hindsight, but the truth is it can also be a pretty trying task to communicate concepts such as the scientific method to a group of rowdy and excited youngsters whose combined energy could probably propel at least a small aircraft. Typically, tending a garden is for me a therapeutic and often peaceful practice. But tending a garden with a class of kindergarteners is something else entirely. It's fun, it's fast-paced, it's loud, it's crazy, and it's oh so special.

Wes couldn't make our shift today because he was in Indianapolis with his son, but Robin filled in and together we introduced the scientific method and led the students in the preliminary steps of scientific inquiry: questioning, observing/measuring/collecting data, and hypothesizing. In two groups we measured okra plants, sunflowers, and tomatoes and made predictions about how the plants will change over the course of two weeks. (We will follow this lesson up after their return from Thanskgiving break)

I can't say they were all equally engaged in the process of data collecting, but the ones that were were more engaged than I've ever seen them. It was neat to walk away feeling certain that at least a handful of students learned something tangible today. Typically, I feel a bit unsure of whether or not what we are teaching is actually getting through as we have limited hands-on interaction and so much of our time is trying to organize the class so that they can all hear and see at the same time. But today, I just gave up on my notions of a perfect response from them and gave in to the fact that teaching kids that age is simply a messy enterprise. And I think that's what makes it so rewarding because no two days are the same, and they are always full of surprises.

Today was also special because the team of students who writes the lessons each week is looking into the cognition of all of our Peace Patch classes by way of examining the questions they're asking. So we set up our so called "wonder wall" and spent a good chunk of time posing questions and charting them. Ms. Dillon's class is wondering how plants grow, why flowers make fruit, how fast those plants grow, and so much more!

Here are some other photos from the garden today:
Our lovely Okra

Bananas on the way!

Thanks for reading!

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