Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Importance of "Using People"

I have to brutally honest.  I despise field trips.  Not because I don't think they are valuable--I most certainly do.  It's just that I am a worrier.  It will be ME that forgets to order the bus . . . MY kid who throws up at the state capitol (yes, it happened) . . . MY student who gets stung by a bee.

So--I can't lie.  I dread them.  What I DO love is bringing people in to the school to expose our students to things they otherwise would not have access to . . . and I need to do it more.  This week the students have had 4 different opportunities to interact with adults at school in a totally different context.

* Yesterday the 4th grade hosted its "career day" organized by our guidance counselor who brings in parents to talk to students about their jobs.  Each student gets to go with small group (8-10) of students to hear FIVE different speakers.  Yesterday the group I hosted saw two different engineers, a fiscal planner, an Apple computer rep, and a limnologist.  (Yes, it's a real job!)  Other students saw a karate school owner, a nurse, and several other careers.  It's a really neat way to talk about how important their work as students is--and how it all leads to what they want to do in the future!

* Today we saw TWO different speakers.  Two of my students had been hooked up by the GT/Enrichment teacher with a local professor who is a BIG deal with NASA and is second in command of one of the cameras on the Mars Rover.  The boys corresponded with her, researched, and then shared their findings with the class. Today she came to talk to the students and was FANTASTIC!  The kids hung on her every word and every photo!  She even admitted that she was not "math smart" and had to work SO hard--but that she knew she wanted to be a space scientist so she worked super hard.  What a great lesson!  Check it out!




* Believe it or not, we had a SECOND speaker today--I would not typically do that, but schedules are tricky this time of year.  This speaker is associated with the Wisconsin Dairy Industry and came in and talked about agriculture in Wisconsin and all the wonderful products we grow here.  Most students did not know cherries grow on trees or that cranberries grow in bogs . . . and we learned a lot about nutrition along the way.  Free!  I'm sure that other states have similar programs that can be accessed!


* After school today we had our school wide enrichment day.  Students can choose to attend two different one hour sessions run by teachers, parents, and community members on a variety of topic ranging from cupcake decorating to golf to martial arts  to friendship bracelet making to "ooey gooey science"!  Approximately 75% of our students attend and get to try something new at school.

* Coming up in a few weeks, the fourth grade is bringing in a "Trunk Show" program from our local historical society.  A representative comes in and brings artifacts from a certain period in time and turns our activity room into a mini museum for an hour!  Again--free!

So . . . what kinds of people do you "use" in your school?  Let's share some ideas--and as budgets get tighter and tighter, we are going to have to get even better at capitalizing on local resources.  Hope you all had a great day!




16 comments:

  1. We recently invited some environmental workers in. They taught the life cycle of a tree, gave us cross-sections of tree trunks to count the rings, and then we walked around the forest and planted a little tree in the school grounds. Way better than a field trip and so much less worry!

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  2. I was just thinking about this the other day! We're studying rock and minerals and I wanted to see if I could find a geologist to come and talk with the class...we do have a guest teacher come once a week for science. He's a retired professor from a local college and lives in our town. He shares great things with the students from his world travels and it's a great way to break up the science lessons!

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    1. That is so neat...once you have a resource like that, HOLD ON! Lucky you!

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  3. You are so right. There are so many people that are willing to help and so many wonderful talents that they are willing to share. Thanks for bringing up this great point.
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

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  4. We have tons of people visit - the bee man, the Electric company people, fire service, police, chefs, research scientist (researching toad mutations - she brought a 5-legged toad to show us!!) artists, musicians - we had the Atholl Highlander Pipe band once all the way from Scotland! - para-Olympians... anybody who has something to offer is invited :) The kids just love it when visitors come and they learn so much from it all. It sounds like you've been having some great people too!

    Lynn

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    1. How can I sign up to be a visitor? I could come all the way from Wisconsin to see you! :)

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  5. We go on A LOT of field trips. The first few make you worry, but by this point in the year we're all old pros. It makes a huge huge difference in their learning {but that wasn't the point of the post, sorry!}. I like that at my school we have mandatory volunteer hours. That means parents and other people with a stake in my kids' education are around a lot. Our career days was SO fun too! :)

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    1. I figure I'm a pro--after 21 years of teaching! But I still get anxious. The mandatory volunteer hours is interesting! How many hours per year?

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  6. My comment is off topic - so sorry - but I am looking for some advice. My district is going into full adoption of Common Core next year and we have a new reading series too. I'm not a basal person. So even though I'm sure I will be required to do the basal, I also want to do a literature rich thing of my own. So - to my question - I purchased your historical unit and am curious about how your literature unit "scope and sequence" goes through the year? And of course - do you have any other advice for a CC newbie? Cheers! :)

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    1. Wow...so, Nikki...what do you know so far about how the district will require you to use the basal? I have lots of advice--but not sure how good ANY of it is! We had curriculum teams map our our years for us based on the CCSS and some of the work of Lucy Calkins. See if you can give me more information about your situation and we'll start brainstorming!

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    2. We haven't had any workshops about our new series yet. It is still in the purchasing stage. We are supposed to have training at the end of the summer, which is nice and all, but I'm an early planner. We are using Benchmark Literacy, which is based on the work of Fountas and Pinnel. The word work is based on Words Their Way and the basal is not a basal at all, but a series of actual books for the students. There is a teacher's edition (I've seen the sample and it's like most basal TE's - very scripted). So the program has a lot going for it that others don't. The bad news (at least to me) is that apparently, it is so new (2011) that there's only commercial info out there about it. I can't find other teachers, videos, etc. that are also using it. As for having to use it, I would imagine that we only have to use it for RTI purposes and will be allowed to approach ELA our own way. Actually, our curriculum supervisors have told us that they aren't really for basals, either, so I believe they are encouraging us to use it to help but not rely on it strictly (at least I'm hoping this is the case). I still want to incorporate content areas when I can, do book clubs, reading workshop, independent reading, but tie it in to CC, of course. Then when we have training on that basal, I'm hoping I can just incorporate the literature, use the skill tests for RTI, and possibly do the Word Study when I learn more about it too) and that be it. When I visualize next year, I see me doing very little whole group, mostly small group and students in book clubs, both using books that are already flooding my classroom library. I'm just not sure how to structure it with the new CC "rigor." :D

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    3. Wow--it sounds like you are probably actually in a pretty good situation--a basal to have as a resource but the flexibility to use it as THAT--a resource. I'm sure you will be spending time reading the CCSS this summer and you will probably end up knowing it better than everyone! I think the key to the Core--and good teaching--is holding students accountable for their learning, for higher level thinking, for explaining their thoughts and supporting their ideas with evidence. The book "Pathways to the Common Core" is really good--I have read most of it and will be revisiting it this summer. There is no shortage of things to learn, is there?!!?!?

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  7. I feel the SAME WAY about field trips! Forgetting to get a bus is one (it's the secretary's role to do so, but still, who are the kids and parents going to be looking at when they hear the news that the field trip is cancelled due to transportation issues, haha).

    I also worry because as anyone who has met me will tell you, I have the worst sense of direction ever. It's embarrassing. If I can't keep myself from getting lost, how do they expect me to keep 19 fourth graders from getting lost? It's such a miracle every time we all make it back from a trip that I feel like kissing the floor in the front foyer.

    I wonder if my principal would accept bringing people in with my field trip budget instead of hopping on a bus.

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    1. I DO think there is value to leaving school...some kids never get to see a farm or a museum or a play. I try to recite that over and over on my field trips to make me remember why we go!

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