Tuesday, September 29, 2009

apples, executive function, patterns of thinking, and 19 kindergarteners

Today my partner-in-crime and I bravely put on our bright red field trip shirts, gathered 19 five year olds onto a bus, and headed off to the apple orchard...

We are currently exhausted.

But considering that this was the last field trip we went on, I'd say that we have nothing to complain about. It was a dream in more ways than one. Our children spontaneously thanked the bus driver, gasped in pure excitement at the stalks of corn growing in a small garden, listened attentively, showed just the right amount of enthusiasm for lessons, cleaned up not only their trash but trash that had been left by a group before us without being asked, and happily returned back to school to attend to more lessons on apples.

Pure bliss.

Since on this field trip I was not dealing with run away children I had time to think about how we'd use the lessons of the field trip once we returned to our daily routines. I heard us using the Patterns of Thinking questions as we discussed apples with our field trip guides and I realized how perfectly apples and an apple orchard lends itself to the Patterns of Thinking. Just the nature of how many parts of apples children can identify, as well as how easy it is to see that apples are a part of a tree, makes them the perfect starting place for a part/whole lesson.

When we returned to our classroom my fabulous partner-in-crime and I whipped out the think blocks to discuss discussed the parts of apple and what an apple is a part of. After using the plastic blocks we transitioned to creating our own large class apple where we could label the parts. Notice the brown circle at the bottom of the apple. I have no idea what to call that, but after careful investigation during our think-blocks lesson on parts the children all identified that as a part of the apple. This flowed perfectly into a literacy activity as we labeled the parts of the apple together, (noting, of course, that so many begin with the letter s, just like the names of friends in our class. I love that in kindergarten the letter s can be so exciting.) AND we got to write the word RED, which we know how to spell from our red song. Of course, the minute I asked a child to write the word red the rest of the class burst into song, complete with hand motions. I love this class.

Tomorrow we'll create a bigger poster of an apple orchard to visually show what apples are a part of. From there we will move on to the relationship between apples and apple cider (we made apple cider today), as well as the relationship between the apple and the tree. This will lead us into a discussion of how a seed turns into a fruit (or at least, I hope it will). My hope is that we will make a large mural for the hallway that will incorporate all of these elements. Once the mural is built we can ask the children to take perspectives of the apple orchard from the perspective of the farmer, a worm, or from the apple itself. I love the idea of starting with the think-blocks and moving toward adding the literacy piece.

All of the excitement about using the patterns of thinking to discuss our apple field trip lead me down yet another path. I'm working on using the house keeping center to teach social skills. After reading this post by kiri yesterday I started doing a lot more thinking about executive function and self-regulation. I want to alter my house keeping project a bit. An article from NPR the post links to states, "(play) actually helped build a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of elements such as working memory and cognitive flexibility... the most important is self-regulation".

Another post will come along one of these days as I sort this all out in my mind, but for now our next dramatic play center will be going to an apple orchard. We'll follow the same model of reading a story first, selecting roles to play (a part of planning), playing, and then de-briefing on how it went. Not only will we be working on our social skills, but the children will be interacting with the patterns of thinking through play, which I hope will help them grow to look at the world using the patterns of thinking. It also will hopefully tie right in with our goals in writing workshop to tell stories in sequential order.

I have a million ideas floating around in my mind right now, and very little brain power left to put together logical sentences so I fear none of this made any sense. I suppose summing it up would be:

field trip = good,

field trip = chance to use patterns of thinking= good literacy opportunity= good dramatic play opportunity to solidify the thinking/literacy/self-regulation.


Anonymous said...

I want to work with you.
You inspire me. :)

Sneaker Teacher said...

OMG I can't believe the post you linked to about your other (not so great field trip). One of the biggest reasons I really don't like field trips is because I have this fear that someone will get sick on the bus....ugh! Seems like that poor kiddo had a consistent problem with riding the bus....I feel like if that were my child, I would drive him to the field trip or keep him home to avoid that trauma...poor thing. But poor YOU and partner in crime! Glad this most recent field trip went better!!!


The Science Goddess said...

In case you need the info...the little brown circle on the bottom is what is left of the apple flower. The leaf-like things are what covered the bud when it was developing. If you gently pull them apart, you should be able to see the parts that made the pollen...and, of course, the apple fruit itself is just the mature ovary. (And who doesn't love big fleshy ovaries as a snack?)

Greg said...

Great post! I blogged about it, too, over here and really dove into how you were using the Patterns of Thinking Method so adeptly. Nice work, Yellow Belt!

And the little brown thing at the bottom of the apple? It's called the calyx. It's VERY cool when students are fascinated by something that the teacher didn't plan. Awesome student-led learning happening here!