Saturday, March 29, 2014

Plants: Comparing a fruit, a vegetable, and a flower

Because I am home sick, it is the perfect excuse for a new blog post and an update on our plant experiment. My class is an above average class, and so I am always trying to figure out better ways to challenge them, and have them TEACH THEMSELVES. Yes, I said it and I am not taking it back. Kids need opportunities to teach themselves and each other. I personally believe that students learn best when they figure out what they need to know on their own. It may take minutes, hours, or days, but they will figure it out. I often hear parents say, "I didn't even know he/she could do that!". Now don't get me wrong, they often need someone to foster their learning and help them build on their thinking, and I personally love this part of teaching. While I have been reading for my Curriculum Class for my E.d.S., I read about a particular Educational Philosophy that I really connected with called Progressivism. In this particular philosophy, the educator's role is to guide for problem solving and scientific inquiry while the students' knowledge leads to growth and development. It only made my decisions on how I run my classroom more concrete. During our first few lessons we did study the needs and parts of the plants. I always cover the standards no matter what, but now for the extension. I decided that the students would plant three types of seeds, a vegetable, fruit, and flower. Each student had a job and we discussed the jobs in the beginning. We also discussed that I should ALWAYS hear higher order thinking and questioning. It is never a fool proof plan, especially with a classroom full of leaders, but I teach my students the value of everyone's thoughts and that helps us tremendously.

I chose three types of seeds, two the students have seen before, and one they hadn't. I wanted some familiarity with the process, and I wanted them to know that they have eaten the beans before :)

Black-Eyed Peas
Watermelon Seeds
Marigold Seeds

Next I prepared folders with jobs for students. They rotate, so there isn't much argument. The alternate takes the place of anyone who is absent even if there are two or three people out. If the alternate is out, the leader takes over. It is really important to explain all of the jobs at the beginning specifically, and have the students repeat what each job does. I also made signs that went on each crate for the cups. We have already lost one though, so I would suggest using rings with holes punched in the signs.

 The recorder records what the person who measures finds.

Using their "fancy" words like moist.
Love this close up of their descriptions!

 The plant feeder, waters the plant with medicine droppers. 

This is how they get their water. Its easy, and the cleanup is minimal.

The leader makes sure everyone completes their jobs, and starts the discussion about what is happening with the seeds/plants. They also have the jobs of taking the plants outside, and reminding me to bring them in before we leave. (This has resulted in a reminder text message from a six year old that was greatly appreciated, otherwise our plants would have drowned in the rain. * They take their jobs seriously.)

The plant "measurer" measures each plant, and relays the message to the recorder, who writes what the students see. It can include inches or centimeters of the plants.

 I hope you enjoyed our student led lesson. One last thing, we do this activity 20 minutes before lunch. The students work for 15, wash hands for 5 and the plants are outside for the afternoon. Thanks for stopping by my little blog!

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