Science ~ Add More Inquiry!

class numbers tweet.pngScience – it’s what drives me as an educator. There is an interesting game on Facebook where you answer questions and it pumps out the career you are most suited for. It’s not the first time I have been told I should work in the sciences. My pre-college assessments pointed in the same direction. When I couldn’t get a teaching job right after college in the glutted market, I went back to school to become an LPN. The field felt right at home for me.

body_of_water_tweetIt is no surprise that now that I am nestled in the field of education that my focus is shared with the sciences. Marrying the two fields has helped me make sense of the way I need to operate in educating young children. Not only can I think, talk, and otherwise share my passion for science but I can integrate it nicely into the other domains for learning.

sept vernal pool 011The past year’s science based curriculum was very rewarding. Now I want to take the next step in the journey, making the learning even more inquiry based. You can read a lot on the subject here at Science For All and here from Purdue.

Where is the change from what I have done in the past? It is in the importance of pulling the areas of study from the children. I have a full spreadsheet of topics and activities that you may be able to view here. What I want to do though is to find out what and how the children want to explore and share the generation of learning activities and projects from that learning path. It will be rather easy to guide them into areas I have lots of prep done already but I want to be more open to new thinking, new questions, and new science in action. As a logical-mathematical learner, I see patterns all over. That is what makes it easier to use what we can do now in creating new activities and explorations. Math and science play into patterns beautifully.

At the end of this past school year, we had time for one more project. After much discussion, the students and I decided to create a unit on Space. It may have been the richest experience of the year with tons of sharing between students. The materials available online and in the school library are tremendous!

So let’s see how this year rolls out. We can start the year under the umbrella of studying seasons and apples but where that study takes us might be quite different. Inquiring minds want to know…  well, we want to know everything!

 

Fotor Exploration Continues

I have done some editing with Fotor as part of my test drive. These are only with the first set of editing tools.

original
original
crop
crop
bright +10
bright +10
contrast +40
contrast +40
saturation +50
saturation +50
exposure +50
exposure +50
highlights +20
highlights +20
shadow +20
shadow +20
temperature +10
temperature +10
curves example 1
curves example 1
curves example 2
curves example 2
resize 64 and crop again
resize 64 and crop again

There are many more tools available with this program and I recommend you give them a try.

menu share

menu share

menu text

menu text

menu star

menu star

menu frame

menu frame

menu paint bucket

menu paint bucket

art print soft touch

art print soft touch

art print shine

art print shine

Fotor / #Kinderblog14 Week 3

I love it when I can tackle a couple of assignments at the same time. This reminds me of multifaceted assessments that help inform me in a number of areas rather than one single focused skill.

My weekly webinar with Australian friends, Jo Hart, Phil Hart, and Jo Freitag, challenged me to use a tool I test drove last week called Fotor and to create an artifact while using it.

#Kinderblog14 asks people to choose/write a post on one of a couple options.  I am choosing to do “Option 2: How do you feel about where you live? This could be your house, your neighbourhood, your city, region, even your country. What do you love about it? What do you hate? What would you change if you could?

So, I will try to present one of my favorite places that I call home, Bald Mountain Campground, and the seasonal site where we keep our trailer. I will use the Fotor app and site then embed the product here.

First I opened Fotor and messed around with images I have taken of the place. I opened the folders on my pc and was reminded once again that I really should organize photos in a more coherent way. There are just too many options for folders and programs. I have 1000′s of photos of school and home that are still too blended. I know I am lazy about naming pictures because you can only tag them with a unique identifier. From the pc, I only found 3 images and uploaded them to the project. Full stop! Not enough pictures for a project.

Next I went to my iPad and looked for more images. Of course that required a download of an app in order to work with Fotor. Quick enough, now I had to learn to use the app…

WOW! That took some effort. What I am not successful with yet, and what I really need to know is, can the projects be synced between devices and saved anywhere within Fotor? No luck with that yet so it’s choice time. Since the iPad had more images, I will work with that device. photo It also saved my projects in the photo album and in the app. Again, that is not syncing to the pc.

I found a number of good images and saved some of my favorites as a 9 cell collage. There are many options for cell layout and number. You can also adjust the images within the cells and expand or reduce the cells as needed. I was not able to add the images from the pc to the images from the iPad. The project you see below was completely created on the iPad. I loved that I could edit the images to get higher definition.

pickerimage

 

What do I love about it?

  • It is only 75 minutes “away.” I can leave the worries of the world behind me for a couple of days each week and be ME in a more true sense. Some days I am alone and that has a completely different feel to it.
  • The sky gets really dark without nearby or distant city lights polluting the sky.
  • The state parks are literally right next door and down the road a piece.
  • I have marvelous neighbors who share conversations on human related things in a positive way. They also share eggs!
  • There are strangers (in the form of transient campers) who always provide interesting interactions.
  • I have my wifi. That is not something I want to be away from.
  • Campfires, glow necklaces, and sky lanterns.
  • It is by a river and I love being near water in all forms and majesty.
  • A walk around the campground is a 1 mile loop. Lots of people are walking throughout the day.
  • Bigger lots than usual.
  • Animals are allowed and they are almost always quiet, well behaved, and picked up after.
  • The local area has tons of recreational opportunities.
  • Vermont people are wonderful!

What do I hate about it?

  • My phone doesn’t get a signal so I worry about not being in contact with loved ones. Email works but only if I check it obsessively and reboot.

What would I change if I could?

  • While the trailer sleeps 7, it isn’t very cozy when it’s full. It really only sleeps 5 comfortably and two of those are narrow bunks.
  • Low water pressure means longer showers for rinsing off.
  • I would  have a site directly on the river bank AND still have sewer hookup AND still get wifi. Neither of the latter are available on the river directly at this time.
  • AT&T would have cell reception. Sorry AT&T but you are becoming a bigger drawback by the day.

Now back to playing with Fotor. I actually continued the post here but it got to be really long and unwieldy to navigate so I cut and pasted it to a new and dedicated post.

Supports For Good Teaching and Learning

I have several unpublished posts for this blog. That’s part of the beast for reflection in blogging. Now there is a blogging challenge put on by the folks of #Kinderchat. What a great opportunity it presents for editing the older piece and getting it out there. So thanks to Amy and the rest of the #kinderchat community for presenting #Kinderblog14.

I had a real blast teaching the science based curriculum that I created for the year.  The children were really engaged and the cross curriculum worked splendidly!

Even with all the good news, I know that it was not enough to satisfy my needs as an educator.  We all operate a bit differently and I am no exception. I finally got the IWB I had been whining about for years. What I didn’t count on was the challenge in making the system of tools work together with ease and practicality.

In an ideal world, the learning would be captured quickly and efficiently by having tech tools at the ready and doing what they need to do. Not the case! I couldn’t keep the laptop (a refurbished Mac) connected to the internet and the linking was slower than my old iPhone.  Later in the Spring, a newer hub was added that gave me a better signal but dropped me whenever it was idle which was often.  Kindergarten kids aren’t inclined to wait around minute after minute for me to get the material up and running. They also couldn’t get to record the audio and video of what they knew. Updates are rarely done on the equipment and I give too many hours in prepping them so I get behind. I miss that presentation piece.

In the old days, I used my PC and an attached webcam but apart from the minimal bandwidth and the old tech, the kids were able to regularly log on and present their newly acquired knowledge.

In many schools, students have a set of laptops, or better yet iPads, in each classroom. We all know how adept kids are about using technology, and a dedicated iPad in the hands of a kid can really be a rich and active experience. They demonstrate, collaborate, record with audio or video, and learn the important life skills associated with online learning. The posts in our feeds each day detail the wonderful apps that are available and making the learning more accessible.

We are an underfunded public school and the town defeated an override request which meant layoffs and zero funding for classrooms. To put it in perspective though, Massachusetts is highest in student ranking and spending at $13,361.Being third from the bottom is probably still higher than many other schools.

I think we may very well move lower on the per student funding charts from our already abysmal third from the bottom (for schools of our demographic) to an even lower spot. One of the things eliminated (along with several teachers) is the 1/2 time tech support – 1/2 time custodian. So about those technology needs…

Good Reading: “The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten”

Screenshot (25)I found this article by Wendy Lecker in my feed this morning and it took a round-about way of getting there. I will credit @JonFines and Twitter with the first sharing. It was then saved to the #kinderchat Daily which is aggregated for me and shared with a wider audience. I read the piece and saved it to Scoop.it/kindergarten which is my own curation of “finds.” The latest scoops appear in the sidebar of this blog.

Enough of the source information. The important thing here is I have experienced this disturbing transformation of kindergarten first hand.

We have parent teacher conferences going on now and I am struck once again by the consequences of too much rigor on all students. To boil things down into a nutshell of my own reflection…

  • … because some children can read, construct ideas, think mathematically, write, explain, all children will be expected to work hard toward that end.

This one size fits all doesn’t work. Some children appear to be smarter while others appear to have delays. That is just not the case. That boy who had no preschool and turned five a few days before the cut off date should not be expected to read to level D if he hasn’t bloomed yet, if he hasn’t made the vital connections that signal he is ready for rigorous instruction. He will struggle, lose confidence, get remedial help to push him along, and maybe more importantly, he won’t be doing what he needs to do to reach the readiness point on his own.

Next to that boy is another who came almost 6, had preschool, is thinking like an older kid and is less distracted because he can stay with the program. He will take the rigor with more ease, appear to be almost gifted because he can read a bit already, knows all his letters and sounds, counts to 100, and is even physically taller.

It is not a level playing field. Why can’t we go back to teaching students from where they are and not grouping them all in one basket? Why can’t the first child get the chance to develop skills at his own pace and not feel less of himself because he can’t read?