Editor's Note: Michelle Scotese is a kindergarten teacher at Wilkinson Elementary School.
As Kindergarten teachers at a Title 1 school, my four colleagues and I were grateful for the opportunity to address our Science Standard: "Using Tools to Help Us Explore" and our Language Standards which emphasize listening, speaking, and collaborating. This was achieved by providing our students with a hands-on, authentic learning experience at Mote Marine Laboratory.
On the bus ride to Mote, the students were excited to be going on a field trip but had no idea what was in store for them. Few, if any, knew about Mote. They were thrilled when they entered the building and caught a glimpse of what was in store for them.
The exploration "Become a Scientist" allowed us to bring the curriculum to life. Students observed marine animals and learned about their habitats as they stepped into the role of a scientist. They were incredibly excited by the experience, yet focused because they were interested and curious. Highlights included discovering the mystery animal, touch tanks, and seeing animals that they had only learned about in books.
Prior to our field trip, experts from EdExploreSRQ worked with our team to pilot a new component with a focus on Language Arts Standards – reading, writing, listening, speaking, and language. We worked together to select the appropriate book, A House for Hermit Crab, to present to each student following the experience. We also identified meaningful vocabulary words and designed a simple student feedback journal.
At the end of the exploration, students were thrilled to receive their book and had fun writing and drawing pictures about their favorite parts of the day in their journals. I could tell each child enjoyed learning new vocabulary words and loved getting a picture of themselves as scientists.
The Patterson Foundation (TPF) provided funding for the books that included a letter to the parent/caregiver about the exploration and encouraged them to read the book at home with their child. Additionally, we created a YouTube video for parents with language or literacy barriers. Now they can listen and read along to the video with their child. A pocket in the back of the book held the journal and a family feedback postcard that, when returned to TPF, will result in the student receiving a second book.
Many thanks to Dr. Wendy Katz and Cindy Balistreri from EdExploreSRQ and to The Patterson Foundation. This was truly an experience for our students where learning came to life and a field trip they will always remember!