Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cicadas - a simple science/language/art experience.

Summer has arrived - time to go outdoors.

They have taken their time but the cicadas are now in full song.

Information about NZ cicada    And more great stuff

What do we know about cicadas?
It is always the way. As soon as the summer holidays have past summer actually arrives.

Teachers and their students, who have up to now had little experience of real heat, are now feeling it, but now confined to their classrooms.

Let's hope teachers have decided to vacate their rooms and do their learning in the cool shade outside.

Teachers who have not forgotten that environmental literacy is as important as book literacy will no doubt be really enjoying themselves. The big issue of the coming decade is not a literacy crisis but a climatic one.

The sooner students develop an awareness of their environment , and in the process learn to love and respect it, the sooner they will see the need to sustain and protect it. As the future generation they will need to see it as the number one world problem.

If teachers do take their students outdoors they might begin to see that it is through rich sensory experiences that their students develop real insights and in the process expand them their all important vocabularies. They might even understand that in the beginning was not 'the word' but that in the beginning was 'the experience'.

So teachers ought to take this hot weather as an opportunity to go outside and let their children explore the environment through their senses. If it was good enough for Leonardo da Vinci; it is good enough for their students. Like Leonardo they need to see and interpret their experiences as, artists , poets mathematicians and scientists.

Outside children can sit under a tree and let their minds go for a walk. They can be taught to educate their senses - each sense introducing information for their growing minds to process. Listening bring in dimensions of sound, smelling will remind them forever of environmental experiences, touching opens the world of textures, and sight the world of movements, colours, and shapes.

Teachers who understand how brain grows will help their students expand on their ideas by encouraging students to see connections, to use language metaphorically , or to get them to simply describe what they can see. Teachers who appreciate the power of observation will encourage their students to draw what they can observe - encouraging them to focus on something of particular interests. Digital cameras assist in this process by bringing images back into class to further process.

In rooms ,with teachers who are environmentally aware, the evidence of students curiosity will be all around to see. There will be three line nature poems ( simple haiku), drawings , imaginative paintings, exciting phrases in their written language, and studies developing out of their reawakened curiosity.

Such teachers appreciate that by building on students questions and ideas about the immediate environment there is no need for imposing teacher planned curriculums on their captive students. By developing environmental awareness both teacher and students can learn to be co-explorers.

So with  this  in mind this is an ideal time to go outside and listen to the cicadas. What questions come to mind - and what are your students prior ideas about cicadas?

Collect cicada nymph cases seen on tree trunks - they make ideal observational drawing subjects, and through drawing questions and ideas will come to mind to explore.

It may be possible to uncover some nymphs before the emerge but possibly easier to capture some adults to observe/draw and to note differences between nymph cases and adults.

Students could then research answers to their questions. They might learn that many of their questions do not have real answers - not everything has been learnt about the 42 different types of New Zealand cicada! Do all cicada 'sing'? What is the point of all the 'singing'.

To conclude a display could be developed featuring drawings, thought poems and researched questions.

This is 'authentic' learning - building on how our brains were developed to work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Simple but brilliant ideas. We so easy overlook the small scale world around us.