A few weeks ago, the District trained all 3rd and 4th grade teachers on a new science program that is being initiated here in Lowell. The logistics of revising an already tight schedule to include a new program with some pretty hefty time requirements has been nightmarish to say the least. It hasn’t helped much that the administrator who successfully advocated for this program is no longer part of the Central Office administration. It also has been received less-than-enthusiastically because of timing: adding in a new program when we have major curriculum overhauls in English Language Arts and Mathematics (Common Core!) while we straddle the former frameworks makes everyone cranky.
However, yesterday my students were involved in a soil experiment that has made all the angst over getting this off the ground feel worth it.
As typically happens when implementing a new program, you read it once, read it again, and still miss something. At least I had remembered to gather leaf matter from my backyard for the student observation. But as it was 6:30 and I was on my way to school, I just picked up what I could from the side of my driveway. To me, it just looked like a bunch of dead red maple leaves – nothing too interesting to observe and record.
Well, were we all in for a surprise. Table by table, each group discovered not only leaves (and a few sticks), but BUGS! Spiders, beetles, bug casings — the whole gamut. And were the kids ever excited! “This is the best day of my whole life,” one of my less-academically inclined students yelled. I think I would agree.
I never know just how valuable, exciting, and wonderful a lesson is until it gets rolled out in front of the students. All that hand wringing? Worth it.