Weekly Challenge # 22 – KindergartenBioBlitz – Season Changing Edition
Younger children in North America are experiencing the most snow and the coldest weather that they’ve seen. They will be able to tell their kids 20 years from now that they too walked to school with snow up to their waists when they were young. Children on the other side of the world in parts of Australia have been dealing with intense heat or extreme drought situations. The past few months have been an eye opener for most children around the world in regards to seasonal extremes. However, around the world right now the seasons are in transition and it is a beautiful time for them to explore changes in weather, in flora, in fauna, in the sky and in themselves as well.
Many signs of the changing weather we have been told about are not overly accurate. American Robins stay year round in my region now, even in -20 degree weather they can be seen. Canada Geese stay in warm harbours or any open water they can find.
Other signs are more accurate for instance, this week we’ll be setting up the Britannia Farm Sugar Bush – a sure sign that things are changing as trees wake up from their own winter hibernation based less upon temperature and more upon the days getting longer. Classes booked this year have been encouraged to keep track via Twitter of what is happening in the sugar bush as maple syrup is being made to watch, learn and ask questions before and after their visit.
So how can your students see, hear, smell and feel that the seasons are indeed starting to change?
While there are thousands of ways great educators use to get their students to explore and get engaged in outdoor learning, one of my personal favourites this year has been the #KindergartenBioBlitz.
After the first one in June, 2013, a second one ran in September of the new school year as well.
KindergartenBioBlitz is about students exploring their own backyard and having someone close by to answer their own questions. However, unlike attempting to Google a query where the answer is instantaneous, this week-long event has many pieces to it to help a classroom teacher in helping them push the outdoors as part of a 21st Century Learning style.
The steps to participate are quite simple:
1. First, students need to explore and become curious. Never forget that teacher curiosity is both a spark and often the fuel to light the fires of enlightenment in students.
2. When students find something they are enthused about they share it via their class Twitter accounts using the hashtag #KindergartenBioBlitz. This can be a learning experience in itself as students must frame their questions, (within the space Twitter allows). This brings in some thought and focus to a student’s questioning.
3. When answers given they are not only an answer but are given typically with questions to engage further conversation back at the school. A discussion starts within the class and with the person on the other end of the Twitter feed – a relationship with the naturalist grows and then lasts throughout the year.
4. When students add photos to the questioning, I’ve been pulling many of these out and have created a Pinterest page which is available to all. Students hopefully across the world will not only see what is being discovered but it’s hopeful that this too will lead to further inquiry as well.
Some teachers have made mention that the conversations continue not only at school but at home as well as many Kindergarten class twitter accounts are followed by parents at home. Again, like the teacher showing his/her own curiosity, parents at home can continue building the child’s spark of interest on the natural world as well.
So let’s have another #KindergartenBioBlitz during the week of February 17-21, 2014. Get out and find examples of the changing season. I am excited and would absolutely love to see what you discover.