FIRST HAND LEARNING E-NEWSLETTER

Vol. 2, No. 7

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. CONSIDER THE EVIDENCE: A TEACHER USES JOURNAL ENTRIES TO “POWER INSTRUCTION AND LEARNING”

2. COMMUNICATING ABOUT YOUR PLACE: INTEGRATING SCIENCE INQUIRY AND LITERACY

3. A FIELD GUIDE TO…SHOPPING CARTS!

1. “PUTTING JOURNALS IN FOUR WHEEL DRIVE”

Therese Arsenault, a fifth grade teacher in the Lansing Central Schools in New York State believes in the power of science journals to reveal students’ thinking, knowledge, and new understandings.

At the recently held state-wide conference sponsored by the Science Teachers Association of New York State (STANYS), Ms. Arsenault used her students’ work to demonstrate how journaling offers rich opportunities for students to develop observation and communication skills, to organize data, to write explanations, and to reflect on what they know.

Arsenault explains, “The journal is a compilation of drawings and writings which document what students know and understand and over time show how understandings have changed. The journal is not a finished document. It is a place where students try out their thinking. Journal use is the work of a scientist. I believe my students are scientists! We treasure all that is held within the journal covers.”

To see examples of student work and to learn more about how Arsenault uses journal entries to encourage students to think, communicate, and learn from each other, go to http://www.firsthandlearning.org/arsenault

Do you have a story to tell about your classroom scientists? First Hand Learning is interested in teachers’ accounts of learning and teaching from direct experience. Share your thoughts and stories with us, and we’ll feature them in a future e-newsletter. Contact us at inquiries@firsthandlearning.org.

2. A FIELD GUIDE TO SCIENCE AND LITERACY

How does investigation of the natural world lead to engagement in reading, writing, and talking?

How can field guide development contribute to best practices in science education and language development?

These are two of the questions that participants will explore during First Hand Learning’s Professional Development Institute taking place at the NSTA national conference in St. Louis on March 28, 2007.

Held at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the PDI will take advantage of the Garden’s rich resources and natural collections as participants experience the processes involved in developing a field guide to local spaces. The day-long workshop will investigate strategies teachers can use to integrate science inquiry and literacy, including collecting data in journals, communicating ideas and facts verbally and graphically, and designing documents to present information publicly. Participants will also review and discuss student work, assessment, and individualized plans for implementation.

Presenters include:

  • Wendy Saul, Professor of Education and Inter. Studies, Univ. of Missouri at  St. Louis
  • Mark Baldwin, Director of Education for the Roger Tory Peterson Institute
  • Diane Miller, Vice President for Community Science for the St. Louis Science Museum
  • First Hand Learning Staff

To read a full description of First Hand Learning’s PDI offering go to: http://www.firsthandlearning.org/PDI2007

Visit the National Science Teachers Association website to learn more about the St. Louis conference and PDI offerings: http://www.nsta.org

3. OPEN PEOPLE’S EYES – CREATE A GUIDE

Field guides have been evolving ever since Roger Tory Peterson developed the Peterson System, which uses arrows to point out distinguishing marks. Today’s field guides are not simply tools for identification. They can be filled with information about behavior, ecology, seasonal changes, and more. That’s why developing a field guide to your local spaces can be so rewarding – you decide what information you want to share.

And field guides don’t just have to document natural subject matter. Take Julian Montague’s Stray Shopping Cart Project. For years he’s been photographing, cataloguing, and assigning names to abandoned shopping carts. Interested in exploring the intersections between scientific classification and art, Montague has produced a published book, “The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification.” The project succeeds in doing what all good field guides do: it makes you look more closely, and see things you hardly took note of before.

Check out this quirky field guide’s beautiful photographs and detailed classification system at http://www.strayshoppingcart.com/shopping_cart/1_introduction.htm and be inspired to create your own!

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