Friday, January 4, 2013

Guest Blogger: Science in the City


Primary Possibilities is having a Linky Party!  




I want to introduce myself.  I am very excited to be guest blogging here.  I usually blog at Science in the City.  I write about teaching middle and high school science in an urban setting.  My regular blogging happens at

C’mon over and visit :)

Over the break, I really enjoyed the time at home with my own kids, and the chance to be slower-paced.  I  hope you did too.  However, it gave me a lot to reflect on in my teaching.  My kids, by virtue of our home life, socioeconomic status, educated family nearby get a lot of informal educational experiences that my students certainly don’t get.  This is a well-known topic.  I want to focus on one experience that my kids had over break, and how to bring a little piece of that into the classroom.



My younger son (age 3) got a butterfly kit for Christmas from Grandma.  You send away for the caterpillars, watch them grow, put them into a butterfly net house, and watch them turn into butterflies.  We decided to take pictures of the caterpillars every day so he could see them change.

Here is a picture of our caterpillars so far:


Even if its not strictly curriculum, and not a whole group project, would it be valuable to have an ongoing, high-interest project in the classroom, documented maybe with pictures?  How could you do it effectively with 100 students (4 classes).  Why bother when there is so much to ‘cover?’ 

Last year I was lucky enough to get tadpoles from another teacher.  I set them up in a tank in the back of the classroom.  I chose people in each class period, each day (either those who were done early, those who were really interested, those who were a little wiggly, or some who hadn’t done it in a while) to feed them, and draw what the tadpoles looked like. Taking pictures would have been great too.  Maybe once a week I would take 5 minutes to check in and do a very small mini-lesson about the tadpoles.  I think it was extremely valuable because the kids were fascinated.  There is something to be said for engaging kids, having them enjoy science, and keeping that curiosity!  Even if its not right in the curriculum, they like it, and they are learning science!   Aren’t life cycles, stages of development, needs of living things part of the curriculum?!  It doesn’t always have to be a prepared lesson plan!

It would be easy to even do a short assessment that does tie to curriculum in a broader sense. 

My goal in the New Year is to bring more of these experiences into the classroom, and to tie them to standards and curriculum (if not the pacing for the moment).  Kids need to see science happening, be part of it, and see the connection to the science they are learning. 

One way I know that I will be doing this is that one of my students has been telling me she has a friend that has a snake that is shedding.  She wants to bring in the snakeskin to share with the class.  I think that’s a great display object, maybe touch object, and mini-lesson!

How do you either:
      Conduct long-term experiments in class?
      Bring informal learning and high-interest things into class, even if they aren’t strictly curriculum (and why)

Feel free to leave a comment.  


Check out my post at :     

6 comments:

  1. When I taught second grade, we ordered butterflies from the same place you mentioned. I loved getting the class set so that each child had a small cup that contained a caterpillar and the kids could observe it up close and keep track of how it changed and grew. Loved it. Enjoy!
    ( I think I should comment here rather than your blog since this is where you posted?)

    -Mercedes
    Surfing to Success

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  2. Thanks for sharing your great tips at Surfing to Success. I can definitely use them with my students!

    Teacher Sol :)
    You can visit my blog at: Teacher Sol’s FUNSHINE

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  3. We did ladybugs last year and it was so much fun. They are very interesting to watch transform and pretty easy to take care of!
    Thanks for linking up!
    Stephany
    www.primarypossibilities.blogspot.com

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  4. I have seen things about long term investigations in classrooms and they always seem to be quite the hit! Every year for science we have tadpoles, butterflies, and mealworm beetles. This is a link to a kindergarten teacher and how she does her long-term projects: http://www.elementary-teacher-resources.com/Elementary_Teacher_Resources-2010october.html
    I am not affiliated with this lady, but I get her newsletter and she always has great things to share!
    Hilary
    Second Grade is Out of This World!

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  5. We're doing butterflies in the spring! I'm glad you have had luck with them!

    I'm your newest follower! Stop by my blog if you have the chance :)
    Sarah
    The Fabulous First Grade

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