Wishing your new class would start off working together as well as these 1st graders?
They are communicating using Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics skills to help design a bird habitat near their school grounds. Applied learning at its finest (and the avian population benefits too!).
There’s really nothing like real life application of ones learning to help new concepts and facts transition from memory into practice. These young learners were involved in what some call Participatory Design. The students spent time in advance learning about birds and habitat in a “Living Things” unit, which also happened to meet District standards and some of today’s Common Core benchmarks in Math and English.
Once they had the basics, Learning By Nature visited the classes with copies of the site map for the future project area. In teams, they were asked to identify a few native birds they would like to attract to the area and their habitat requirements. From their discussions, the students used miniature props to design their new habitat in hopes of attracting some birds to their somewhat sterile school yard to observe and study.
The following spring, LBN worked with the staff and administration to have a ‘field trip work day’ where students in each grade were involved in preparing the new school yard habitat site and planting. To this day, students go by and comment to their parents on the plants they planted, point out the logs they helped prep, or mention which flower attracts what species of bird or insect.
I’ve even heard one child explaining to their parent what habitat was and why it was important. I almost dropped my pruner! Applied learning does not have to involve building or design projects; it does have to actively involve the students minds, knowledge, creativity and challenge their skill level. Applying learning to real life situations helps children understand that their learning does have application to daily existence; theirs and others. It helps them make a connection to something larger than themselves and their classroom text book or Smart Board.
Give it a try and watch their learning come alive!