FIRST HAND LEARNING E-NEWSLETTER
Vol. 4, No. 3
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. “I DIDN'T REALIZE THERE WERE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUTDOOR LEARNING AT MY SCHOOL”
2. INTRODUCING A JOURNAL FOR VERY YOUNG INVESTIGATORS
3. WHAT’S IN THERE? SETTING TRAPS FOR INQUIRY
1. OUTDOOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCES INSPIRE TEACHERS
First Hand Learning staff have been busy traversing the country sharing strategies for developing outdoor inquiries with students. Response has been enthusiastic and we’ve enjoyed collaborating with teachers in Linden, NJ, Arlington, VA, and Boston, MA, to name just a few of our stops. We hope that many of you whom we have met on our travels will share what happens in – and out of – your classrooms with us.
On March 26th, 2008 FHL presented its fourth NSTA Professional Development Institute (PDI) entitled The Outdoor Classroom: A Natural Path to Science and Literacy. Held at the Massachusetts Audubon’s new George Robert White Conservation Center, Boston’s first municipal green building, the institute focused on developing field guides to the environment surrounding the school as a way of linking science with language development. The 52 registrants from around the country and abroad represented the largest PDI attendance at this year’s NSTA annual conference. Read more at http://www.firsthandlearning.org/nsta_08_recap.html, where you can also see an example of a field guide entry crafted by 5th grade students.
If you missed this year’s NSTA national conference, consider making plans now for March 2009, when FHL will be in New Orleans to offer another PDI experience. Keep checking http://www.nsta.org/ for details.
Pat McGlashan, FHL’s Director of Curriculum Development, spent several days this spring in Las Vegas, NV with a group of committed teachers exploring outdoor investigations. Participants practiced recording observations in journals, mapping their surroundings, making collections, developing field guides, and tracking animal behavior. They then had opportunities to discuss these strategies and how best to implement them in their classrooms. Here are some of their evaluation comments:
“Great information that teachers can modify for direct hands-on use.”
“I liked going outside and really doing what is being talked about.”
“I really enjoyed the activities of the day and the resource materials presented. I especially enjoyed meeting other teachers and listening to their ideas.”
“I love to see my kids engaged in learning. I think this is a great way to do it, even the quiet kids.”
“An awesome experience! How nice it is to leave a training excited to go back to work on Monday just to implement the strategies learned.”
The Outdoor Inquiries® workshop was one component of the Las Vegas teachers’ ongoing professional development. Mary Weisenmiller, Project Facilitator for K-5 Science, reported on the teachers' recent visit "to a brand new school courtyard, which appeared to have nothing worth studying... but we uncovered a multitude of evidence of life, and inquiry questions abounded."Are you interested in professional development experiences for your district? Learn more about hosting an Outdoor Inquiries® workshop here: http://www.firsthandlearning.org/oi_products_overview.html
2. THE YOUNG OBSERVER'S NOTEBOOK COMING SOON!
First Hand Learning’s Field Journal encourages students to record their observations in writing and drawing. It has been a well-received and popular tool with teachers eager to use science notebooks effectively with their upper elementary and middle school students.
Requests have been growing for FHL to design a notebook to be used specifically with younger children in the primary grades. And now First Hand Learning is pleased to announce the imminent publication of “THE YOUNG OBSERVER'S NOTEBOOK” a version that encourages younger students to begin to practice and grow recording skills from an early age.
Teachers around the country are currently completing a field test of THE YOUNG OBSERVER'S NOTEBOOK and we expect a finished product to be available in September.
To review the layout, and for ordering information Click here
Don’t forget to order your journals for the new school year! See http://www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset6.html for details. Please note that MY FIRST JOURNAL is available at an introductory rate of $249 for a case of 125 journals.
3. PITFALL TRAPS FOR COOL SUMMER INQUIRIES
Looking for an outdoor experience that offers lots of opportunities for experimentation and excitement this summer – but not too much danger of heatstroke? Why not try setting some pitfall traps.
These simple collection devices are a staple of entomologists. By sinking smooth-sided containers into the soil you can collect a fascinating array of insect life. By manipulating different variables you can easily begin to conduct some interesting experiments. Does the location of the trap affect what and how many insects are collected? What if you set the traps with bait? What will you catch – and what bait is most effective for which animals? The possibilities are endless.
Here are directions for making a pitfall trap: http://insects.about.com/od/entomologytools/ht/byopitfalltrap.htm
And here is a very brief overview written for students: http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/education/bitesize/standa
Just remember to check the traps frequently, free the prisoners after you’ve examined them, and always remove the traps after the inquiries are finished.Happy hunting!
The First Hand Learning Catalog offers nature journals, hands-on science kits, posters, and more. Go to www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset.html
We hope you found this edition of the FIRSTHAND E-NEWSLETTER informative. Please contact us with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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