Sunday, March 18, 2012

FREE field trips! Say what?!?!

My 6th grade class is teensy!  At biggest count this year, we had 8 6th graders (cap at 14/15 with our Alternative Ed kids), and we're holding steady at 6.  They're such a sweet group of wild children, and they all still have their inner "teacher pleaser" trait so common in 6th graders....we'll just ignore the fact that a couple of them would be in 8th grade if they were on grade level.  Anyway, field trips for a school that's technically a "program" and not a "school" are hard to come by....less funding, more things to spend on, etc.  The entire middle school got to go to a (very) local cemetery on Veterans Day since we had school. :) While they were there, they did a scavenger hunt for the graves, got to do some rubbings (a new experience for most of them), honored the graves of the Veterans in the cemetery (more than a few) with American flags, cleaned up a little, and just generally got to experience an outing.  Nevermind that the cemetery is less than a 1/4 mile walk from the school. :)  You can read more about this here.

My sixth graders at the time were only two and so the sixth graders have been feeling left out.  8th grade took an all-day field trip last month.  We have had several "mini field trips" or "excursions" as the kids call them in my science class.  We joined up with NASA and did a cloud and weather study in the fall, but that was back when I only had two students.  We've had parts of class outside as a reward, which is HUGE at our school.  You see, we teach in an area that could be safer, and there are frequently gunshots in the blocks surrounding the school.  Also, many of our kids have a tendency to make a run for it when we take them outside.  I've been promising my sixth graders a "mini field trip" to the great outdoors during our study of plants.  Yes, I know we're super behind.  I didn't get my first 6th grader until 7 weeks into school, and he had just been rotting around waiting to be put in a classroom until we got him.  So, we started at the beginning.  Just 7 weeks late.

Today was THE day.  It was sunny and ended up being in the low 80s, but we went out this morning when it was probably about 70 and just slightly breezy.  The kids were ANGELIC.  They stayed on task, stayed close to me, did everything they were supposed to do and then some, asked intuitive questions, and had so much fun!  It was what they talked about all day.  Here's the big trip:

1. Line students up and remind them that bad behavior will bring us back into the classroom to do something much less exciting.
2. Send them outside and comb by areas to find leaves of plants that are different.  When the kids have combed one section, move to another.
3.  Make sure that the kids have a variety of trees, bushes, flowering plants, grass, etc.
4.  My kids also picked up a few variety of mushrooms (which I told them were toxic--- they're not, but I saw no need for them to try and eat/ smoke them) and some moss.  This worked out wonderfully later when we
5. Came inside, sorted our plants on our own
6. Used a dichotomous key to identify plants and to check the ones that we already knew for correctness.
7.  Reviewed the Kingdoms of Classification- why are moss and fungus NOT plants?
8. Examined our plants closely with the naked eye, then under a microscope.
9. Discussed/ wrote/ drew about angiosperms and gymnosperms, vascular and nonvascular plants, etc.
10.  Ms. Green "dissected" some of the plants and we got to look at them up close under the microscope examining different parts to have a living example of the things we've been talking about and seeing pictures of.
11. They had so much fun, and it was SO easy.  Of course, I forgot my camera ....... again.  I realized when they were all sharing the microscopes and clustered around working as a team and excitedly pointing things out and making connections that I needed it.  I'd thought about it briefly during the collection process, but I have memories at least.

This lesson reminded me that I need to channel my inner scavenger hunt.  I haven't done nearly as many this year as I did last.

Also, Kim at Finding Joy in 6th Grade is super sweet and nominated me for a blogging award.  I was also nominated for this award by one of my best friends from college, Rachel at Happily Ever After a really long time ago, but it got shoved to the back of my to-do list.

It's .... the Liebster Award!


joyin6th Homepage       



Thanks, ladies!  Now, for my nominees....


Boomwhackers and Lipsmackers- This is the diary of an elementary school music teacher.  She's one of the girls that most contributes to my sanity, and her posts are infrequent but always make me laugh.  

Misadventures of Yours Truly- I mean seriously, with a title like that, who wouldn't want to read it?  Em is sometimes a little crass, sometimes a little too blunt, but always honest and generally has a twisted, wonderful outlook on life.

Through the Sunglassed Eyes of a Guy in Nashville- A modern day take on rose colored glasses and life of a non-country singer *though he could be some day* on a year-long volunteering adventure in Nashville, TN.  This is a video blog, which is a type of blogging unknown to me, but bold and interesting.

8six4 from 71six- Adam philosophizes and comes up with ways to save the world...or at least good ole 'Murica.

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