It seems like I have written this blog before, and I have https://305bcoaches.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/a-perfect-saturday-class/ This perfect day didn’t happen on a Saturday like the previous one, but instead took place both during the school year as well as afterschool.
The day didn’t start out so perfectly. Some students forgot to do their reading homework. Others didn’t do the entire math assignment. Facing both an end of the unit math test this week, MCAS Math next Monday and Tuesday, and MCAS Science the following Monday and Tuesday, I will admit it, I am a bit stressed out about all of this and I am sure I am passing on my stress to my students. It has been a very difficult year in many aspects with the new mandated assessments. The students are feeling the heat, as I am. I’ve been told by a close friend that I get grumpy around MCAS season and she is true. I am grumpy about it all. The upcoming middle school transition is also weighing heavily on both students and teacher. So, I needed something to break the tension, to show me what good learning really looks like, and luckily at 11:30 this morning,that thought came to reality.
We were fortunate to have some guests from the EPA today come and teach us about testing storm water, a topic that the students have been researching during this year. I love to have outside scientists come and work with my students. This allows the students to witness scientists at work in their field. Dr Bryan Windmiller has been an awesome role model for the past two years. He has permitted the students to come along while tracking turtles, and tracking down nesting turtles. Brennan Caverhill, from the Toronto Zoo generously skyped with the students for over an hour. Peter Alden came and talked about invasive species at our Watershed WISE Night. Lee Steppacher talked about topics that we have been studying this year. Sue Beede has given throughout the years to many of my classes. Matt Burne has come down to the vernal pool to help us with species identification. All of these scientists have so greatly added to my students’ knowledge and today, Dan and Lisa from the EPA followed these great examples. In the pouring rain, half of the class ventured down behind the school to visit the storm drain. I’ve been bringing classes down to the river since 2006 and this class has taken a different lens and look at storm water. So, we were outside for 30 minutes in the pouring rain, learning about what these environmental scientists do with storm water. The students. as usual, asked great questions. No one seemed to mind that we were out in the rain watching the water gush from this clay pipe.
Back at the room, 16 students elected to stay on a half day Tuesday and participate in the Great Garlic Mustard Challenge.
After a lunch break, we ventured down to Cousin’s Field to pull Garlic Mustard. The students split up into five groups, I assigned each group an area to focus on, and they were off. I will tell you that originally, I was a little nervous since I thought that some of the group may do more fooling around than actual work. I was very pleasantly proven incorrect. All 16 went to work with great enthusiasm. I couldn’t had been more proud watching them labor on in the light rain on a very raw day. After about an hour and 15 minutes, I asked them to gather up their pulls and bring it back to a designated area. I was in awe of the work that they had done. They were muddy and cold, but I never heard one complaint. They knew they were doing a good thing for the environment. Our next problem was how we were going to get it back to the school. I let them problem solve how to do that best and off we headed down Prairie Street. One group, wheeling the big trash barrel had numerous problems and every one helped them out. We were all filthy, cold, and wet, but fulfilled.
So the second part of the day was perfect. Students engaged in authentic work. Students engaged in community service. Students engaged in problem solving and group work. Even though I am now exhausted and should be trying to figure out how to best prepare them for Science MCAS, I am so proud of the learners they have become. May we have a few more days like this one before school ends for the year.