Sunday, February 05, 2006
Sounds of Summer
Cicadas lined up in my garden.
Tomorrow most New Zealand students return to school to begin the school year.
As they enter their school they will hear the sounds of the cicadas ‘singing’ in the trees.
I wonder what they really know about the insects making the repetitive chorus of song?
It would be fun to take the class outside and to sit under trees to listen to the cicadas. After a while ask the students for thoughts about what they can hear – encourage them to use phrases and record interesting ideas to take back to class. Older students could write out thoughts for themselves. They could also collect whatever questions they might have.
Before returning to class see if the class can find some of the empty ‘shells’ of the cicadas attached to the trunks of trees.
Back in the class the students could draw carefully cicadas from photographs or use the collected shells. This is an opportunity to develop an important message about quality to the class. Ask the students not to rush their drawings, to take their time, to look carefully. All too often students have learnt to rush their work somehow thinking that first finished is best! This ‘slowing the pace’ allows them to be more reflective and for the teacher to have the time to help those children who are struggling.
Using the collected thoughts write a three line poem about the cicadas. One thought about the sounds they can hear; one thought about what is making them; and one thought about how they feel about the sounds- what it makes them think of or feel. It might be best for the teacher to model the process to start the year.
Select out two or three ‘key’ questions and get the students to research them. Before they research any question get them to give you their ‘prior’ understandings so they can later compare how their ideas have changed. In this way you are introducing them to the idea that you value both their questions and ideas. And possibly you will have to learn about cicadas yourself! This is co- constructivism.
As work as completed make a wall display with a heading ‘Sounds of summer’ and add their 'key' questions, the three line poems (simple haiku) and the student’s research.
In the students new study books the students could copy a picture of the cicada and a few facts about them. This is a chance to introduce design and presentation ideas. This could be modelled on the blackboards.
If you don’t already know you will find out with your students that the cicadas have a very interesting life cycle.
Other ideas to begin the school year.