Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Here are the excellent adventure seekers.

 Over the past three days at the School For All Seasons, we have enjoyed a time set aside for exploratories. There was one for quilting, one for volcanoes and another that was reader's theater. There was also an exploratory on poetry. Mine was about the Mayans. I had started off wanting to do something about Spanish, was led to this instead.

From a recent post, you will see that I was kind of excited for this day to come! I had been planning it out carefully. (Click here for my earlier post.)

Your Adventure Awaits....
I had made these travel invitations below and sent them out to all the participants. I believe we had a total of 39 adventure seekers! I paired them up with a buddy (one who was older, with one who was younger)  so that they had a travel companion and I also placed them in a tribe that was composed of students from 1st-5th grade. There ended up to be four in each tribe which I named after Mayan cities except for two groups which had five.

I also prepared for them these passports. Inside the passports, were the different maker and learning stations for them to visit and to make notations about what they learned at the center.

Our centers included:

Adventure seekers need passports. 
Myths, Fables & Mayan World Tree

Tortilla Making & Maize Agriculture

Chocolate & the Cacao Tree

Ancient Basketball

Writing Our Names In Glyphs

Writing Numbers The Mayan Way

Mayan Calendar Converter

Ancient Ruins

Non-fiction Literature

Art For The Mural

I had several goals that I set for myself regarding this exploratory.

The first was to step out of the way of the kids learning on the days of the exploratory, but to provide for them excellent resources for them to study from on their own.  To do this, I laminated information and created QR codes for sites on the web I wanted them to check out.

My second goal was to to my best to be as paperless as possible. I decided that designing an interactive passport gave them freedom to recall whatever information they wanted to remember and that was just fine. I had the QR codes originally laminated, but they didn't work so well, so I made paper copies. (Bummed because I didn't want paper laying around!) They had paper for designing their part of the mural and paper for making their protective belt that some Mayans wore when they played "basketball."

My third goal was to have this opportunity be as #maker as possible! Having maker space is really important. Classrooms I think, should be designed around maker space. There was a maker opportunity at each table. The kiddos had a GREAT time. One of the best parts about this learning opportunity is the engagement that it offers. Each maker and learning center was designed with them in mind! They were creating pyramids out of sugar cubes, making little tiny "clay" figures that would have been found at the ancient ruins. They made hot chocolate, tortillas, protective belts for basketball, wrote numbers, wrote their name using phonetic glyphs, and on and on it went.

It is important to reflect on your practice or your job, whatever the task may be. As you know I am a HUGE big believer in making the learning opportunities that students have to be suited for all of the 8 intelligences: word smart, logic smart, nature smart, music smart, body smart, picture smart, people smart, self smart. Sadly I am ashamed to say that I didn't think about that as my top priority going in to this, but gratefully, it took care of itself as I designed the stations .  What I need to do differently is to create a maker & learning center that has the music smart learners in mind. I also need to create a maker & learning center that has the nature smart learners in mind. I am grateful for the time I have between now and the next time this year when I get the opportunity to do this again. This filled the need for the people smart friends and the self smart friends because they got to work with others and yet, their learning was organic to they themselves as an individual.

I also learned that I need at least two more maker & learning centers so if I can come up with one for music and one for nature, I should be good. I also thought that maybe having larger "bricks" to build a pyramid might be fun. So, I am thinking of collecting empty tissue boxes...or something! We will see.

Finally, I must include my coworker more in on the next time we do this exploratory. She came in on this with about 9 days to go before we were to pull off our first exploratory.  I had everything planned, printed and ready to go! That is not great for co-teaching, when one does all the work, but then again, I didn't know I was doing it with someone else until I was all done creating it and I had been thinking about it since before school got out! So, next time, maybe she can create the nature and the music maker & learning stations or we can work on it together.

In conclusion, this was a blessing to me to see the students learn and laugh & to be constantly engaged. I can't wait to do this again!

Here is a video of our time. Excuse the Bollywood kind of theme...evidently iMovie doesn't have Mayan music!