Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mentoring for Monarchs

Planting Milkweed with the Kindergarteners
Community Circle in our Outdoor Classroom

Reading with our Kindergarten Friends

Last Friday, my class and I had the great pleasure of mentoring Kindergarteners.  Anna DeVries' class, from Lincoln Elementary came over to our school to learn about monarchs and help us plant milkweed (donated by Ilse Gebhard).  We had a lovely time!  After planting milkweed, my students led a tour of our paths (pointing out trees and birds as they walked).  We took a few moments to share our favorite plants and animals as we sat in a community circle in our outdoor classroom.  Later, we were treated to a wonderful snack from the Kindergarteners, while my students read the nonfiction book that we wrote earlier this year.

We learn by teaching.  One of my students came up to me, after reading to a friend, and said, "Mrs Linstrom, did you know that most monarchs only live for three to five weeks and there's just this one generation that can live for up to nine months?!"  (I actually did know that and I thought he did also.)  This fact should not have been a surprise for him.  I thought this was common knowledge to my students.  I had told them, we watched a video that included this fact, they had written about the monarch migration, and this fact was included in the book that we published together in class.  How could he not know this?  Here's what I have learned after years of teaching. . .  Students need to learn through teaching each other and they need to learn through hands-on and meaningful experiences.  This student hadn't really understood or comprehended this information until he read and taught it to someone else.  I responded to him, "Yes, isn't that amazing?!"  And I was again reminded that learning and teaching are two sides of a coin and that I am fortunate to be on both sides of that coin on a daily basis.  I also thought back to a wonderful experience I wrote about several years ago in this blog, entitled, About Learning A Lesson I Already Knew  (5/19/12)   http://lhbitrail.blogspot.com/2012/05/about-learning-lesson-i-already-knew.html.  In that post, I described how sometimes seeing something actually happen before our eyes will cause us to remember it so that we'll never forget.

I hope that everyone has the opportunity to live on both sides of the education coin as we all continue our journey through this amazing life of learning and teaching!      

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Birding with an Old Friend

Checking out the wren nest

Listening for birds on the trail

Last Friday, my class and I had the good pleasure of going birding with our friend, Russ Schipper.  He visited our class (and all of the fourth grade classes at North Shore) earlier this fall and shared his knowledge of birds and several bird specimens.  He lit the fires of several of my students and we continued to study the common birds of Michigan throughout the year.  Russ came back in February to help us with the Backyard Bird Count through Cornell University.   It was a cold, windy day and most birds were smart enough to take cover, so we only saw a handful and Russ promised to come back in the spring when the weather was nicer.  What a lovely time we had!  We saw and heard many, many birds.  I was amazed at how many birds my students were able to identify with the help of Mr. Schipper.  A big thank you to Russ for his generous dedication to spreading the love of birds with my students and hundreds of others throughout West Michigan!

This Friday, we will be planting milkweed and other plants donated by Ilse Gebhard (Russ Schipper's wife) for our future butterfly gardens.  We will be getting together with Ms. DeVries' kindergarten class from Lincoln Elementary.  My students will teach the kindergarteners some of the interesting facts they have learned about monarchs this year before we all go out and plant!  My students will also read to the kindergarteners the nonfiction book on monarchs we wrote collaboratively earlier this year and give them each a copy to take home.  We are looking forward to this fun opportunity to mentor, teach and plant!  Thank you Ilse Gebhard!