Posted on January 25, 2015
One of our principles of learning is that students develop a relationship with the environment, which is why we teach our students how to interact with the environment as a "text" and come to understand themselves in relation to the environment. When our students leave the campus on research trips, they are prepared to be active observers. We see them boarding the bus or walking off campus with their research journals or iPads. Anticipation is the prime motivator as they take in, through all their senses, the "textures" of the experience. Notice that we use the term research trip as opposed to excursion. On the research or field trip, they take an active role with specific tasks and research tools to document their learning, like scientists or anthropologists gathering data or evidence for questions theyʻve generated in classroom discussions. On the excursion, students take in an experience, not specifically for the purposes of research, but for the aesthetic pleasure of the experience, such as a theatrical or musical production. The research or field trip and the excursion are integral to the full experience of learning. Here the third and fourth graders were just about ready to board the bus for their research trip to the Kualoa wetlands in Kahuku to research native Hawaiian birds in their natural habitat.
I highly encourage all of our parents to take a moment to read Shirley Riveraʻs recent blog on how to help children share their feelings. She writes: In our busy day-to-day lives, we sometimes forget about or ignore our feelings. While feelings are an important part of each one of us, we are not our feelings. Instead, we have feelings and it is important to acknowledge them. http://www.midpac.edu/elementary/ce/2015/01/helping-childre.php In my daily work with children, I cannot impress enough the critical importance of listening to the feelings children try to articulate. I see their feelings projected initially in their demeanor and actions, but they need help in finding the words to name and describe their feelings. If adults find this process challenging, imagine the experience of our young children. Youʻll find Shirleyʻs blog enlightening.
At a recent assembly, I was impressed with the presentation of several first and second graders in Donna Revardʻs and Michele LeBlancʻs classrooms. Micheleʻs students wrote excellent lyrical and heartfelt poetry on topics they felt strongly about, e.g., a soon-to-be-born baby, mathematics, cheetahs. Donnaʻs students explained that they had been learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., and his lifelong contributions to changing the lives of black citizens in America. One student from South Africa remarked although he didnʻt know about Martin Luther King, Jr., Kingʻs life reminded the student of a political leader in South Africa whose own lifelong efforts were to dismantle racial inequality. Thus began a mini-inquiry comparing the lives of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. Their presentation underscored again why the inquiry approach is so rich and so completely owned by the students.
I canʻt wait to see what unfolds this week in our classrooms!
E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs aspire and strive together!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.