Today at McLeod we pulled the Kodak Easyshare M380 cameras out of their boxes and the students started taking photographs. The fifth graders started by taking pictures of each other. We had the class divided into six groups of four students each. I led three groups at a time with hands-on camera work and my two teacher partners, Mrs. Courson and Mrs. McBride, took turns leading the other three groups on a walk around the school grounds.
They were looking for specific examples of plant and animal life. The next time we go out the groups will be taking photographs of some of the living things in the McLeod Schoolyard so we can make a Schoolyard Field Guide. This is a JumpstArt arts integration project sponsored by Ask For More Arts, a partnership spearheaded by Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson.The students did a pre-assessment which asked them to list the producers, consumers, and decomposers in the schoolyard. We will ask them for this information in a different way once we have completed our field guide. We are confident that they’ll engage these concepts more deeply as they produce a schoolyard field guide. Some of the living things on their lists from today’s brief walk were: butterflies, oak trees, moles (when I asked about the mole, they said they had seen evidence of moles in disturbed dirt), blueberry bushes, mushrooms, and poison ivy. We are going to need some good field guides of trees, plants, insects, reptiles, and birds. If anyone has any books they’d like to let us borrow or have for our project, please get in touch with me.
My newest arts integration project begins in earnest today at McLeod Elementary School. I am partnering with a class of 5th graders to make a schoolyard field guide. We’re calling the project “It’s Alive!” and we’re using a book called No Student Left Indoors by Jane Kirkland. You may have noticed my recent spate of nature/science /art workshops. I am learning more every day about how to integrate the four things I love: nature, writing, photography, and teaching.
After my most recent workshop, I wrote about mistaking the stuffed hawk for a live one, but I didn’t show you any of the work I created in the class. Here’s the piece I like the best. I used a rubber dog’s paw. I inked it with black ink and pressed it down four times. Then, when it looked like a flower, I filled in some color with a red marker. This was part of a lesson called Tracks.