Since the elevator project I have been struggling to determine the next move. An appropriate next step for a project has been eluding me. As I try to incorporate as much of the project approach as I can this year, it's still a new process for me and I am essentially teaching myself through books like Young Investigators. There is quite a bit of trial and error. One of the areas I have been getting hung up on is whether a project should or needs to include the whole class or should be carried out through a small group.
Through my observations at the Tribecca Community School, a workshop I attended at The Advent School and through books I have gotten very rigid, worrying too much about what is "right". I am now beginning to sense that there may not be a right or wrong because our class of 18 students with different language backgrounds is very different from a monolingual class of 12. So I've decided not get so hung up on how another school is carrying out project work, we'll just have to discover our own path.
A project can be teacher initiated, child initiated or something agreed upon in between. That gray area in between is where we are about the land with our new animal adaptation project. I initiated discussion this week about the change in the season, from fall to winter and have spent time exploring water and ice through small group science experiments. After two days of some talk about winter and ice exploration I was thinking the children would show interest in an ice or snow project. As our conversation unfolded today, all of the ideas and questions generated by the children focused on animals. K wanted to know why birds fly to a warm place. C was curious about how deer travel, H wanted to know why some animals sleep and don't wake up in winter, and there were several more questions. The children certainly showed me where their interest was today and now we're going to run with it.
As the whole class (in general) seems curious about animals, everyone will be able to participate in the project in different ways. I hope to give frequent updates on our project work to keep you up to date and also as a tool for my own reflection.
We already have two field experiences lined up to build our animal knowledge.
On Wednesday, December 8 an animal educator from Queens Zoo will visit our classroom to teach the children about animal adaptation. The program sounds exciting with many hands-on materials like feather and fur.
On Thursday, December 16 we will visit Central Park Zoo and take part in their WinterFest program, which features polar bears and penguins.
I'm really looking forward to what lies ahead and to not knowing exactly what that might be...