Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nature Journals

I visited the 2nd grade classes at The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) this morning. It's their last week of school until August and we discussed:

1. The fun to be had getting outside to play every single day (side benefit- growing muscles)
2. Exploring their backyards, their parks and their communities (side benefit- getting to know and connecting to where we live)
3. Continuing reading and writing over the summer (side benefit- growing brains)

Often, over summer break kids regress and teachers spend the fall re-teaching what was taught the previous spring. AGC counters that effect numerous ways (e.g. shorter summer). Today, each child received a journal to write in over the summer. We labeled them "mistake journals," and talked about the role mistakes (and "effort") play in the writing process. We brainstormed ideas for how the notebooks might be used (now written on page 1 of the notebook), e.g. writing stories, both fiction and non-fiction, keeping track of summer activities and writing about the books we read.

I was only there for a few minutes and if the notebooks are full when they return in August it's their teachers, Regina Harris and Jim Gribble, that deserve the credit- as they wrap up a school year that's 30% longer than a typical Chicago Public School. There's nothing better than being with curious kids hungry to learn. The only credit I want is for for teaching them how to carry their notebook as they cruise around their neighborhood. :)

See you outside (even if the rain doesn't stop),

Note: Thanks also to Clare Walker Leslie for turning me on to nature journaling a few years ago. What a great way to teach observations skills!

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