Saturday, March 7, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites

Hi Friends!

I'm going in for a book study hosted by most of our most loved bloggers. I love the idea of collaborating together to learn and grow through professional reading and discussion.

This week's study is about Field Trips. We all know field trips are fun and hopefully something we are able to collect resources to do once, twice, or three times in a school year. Yet, how often do these field trips change? I have noticed that it is common for schools to say first grade goes to the Zoo, second grade goes to the Art Museum, etc. While these are experiences that will provide excitement and new learning, if we are only able to use resources to take a few field trips a year, I feel like we should really MAXIMIZE each one. In order to help the experience be powerful for the students, they need strong learning experiences at school either prior to or following the field trip to help them think deeply about their experience and inspire future learning.

In second grade, we had the opportunity to visit a community site that has been preserved from the Pioneer Days. I also had the opportunity to take a field trip here as a student. I still remember being given the opportunity to churn butter. When walking through this site with my students, they were treated like girls and boys used to be treated-- This really engaged their emotions, especially the boys when the girls always got to to go first and get a seat. In the school house, the teacher was unbelievably strict and made her follow their rules. Watching their engagement and hearing their discussions proved the power of this experience. It causes me to think, if I didn't have the opportunity to take them here, how could I create an experience for them at school similar to a field trip like this? Perhaps I could be more like an actress than a teacher for day and create a simulation for them to experience school life or home life as a pioneer child!

They loved watching the blacksmith shown above! When we returned from the experience, I had them write opinion letters to the site they loved most at the settlement, and it was a great chance for them practice using specific reasons in their writing!

We are going to be starting Passion Projects soon! Essentially, students work stems from their passions. I hope to bring experts or connect them virtually to experts and experiences that will enrich their interest and learning.

Students love being given a chance to go outside! Here in Chicago we have been cooped up with SOOO MUCH indoor recess this winter. What a day changer for us all! Going forward, I know it will be a huge hit if we do our read aloud outside or if we go outside for observation purposes. For example, we will study sound in science. Now, I will make sure I find the time to take students on an indoor and outdoor walk to record sounds they hear.

Additionally, we are always trying to help our students develop their own personal learning interests... the ability to ask questions and develop a sense of wonder that will lead them to future learning experiences. Could a walk outside be a great opportunity to model how to ask questions about the world around you and inspire your students to wonder about what they see? For example, they might ask about different types of insects, animal tracks, trees, why we put salt down when it's icy, etc. 

Last year on a really nice day, I took my students out to playground when it was totally free. I had them find a cozy spot for independent reading. I came around for conferences. They loved it and truly they were reading. My thought is that being able to experience this at school, they will likely want to read outside again at home or ask their mom and dad to take them to the park to read. The more fun they have, the more likely they are to continue the learning on their own.

Thanks for checking out my thoughts! Head back to Mrs. Wills Kindergarten to link up to other blogs!


  1. I love reading your posts, they are always so insightful! I agree, field trips are definitely needed throughout the year! That was a great idea to take your kiddos outside for reading! I have enjoyed reading about this book, it is on my list to purchase! Have a good week.

    1. Thank you so much! I have enjoyed the book so far and it's a quick/manageable read! Hope you have a great week as well!

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