At Link, when we go on a field program, there is almost always an academic focus. We take the opportunity to write creatively or reflectively, read carefully, think critically, discuss intelligently, etc.
The two exceptions are usually our first and our last trips of the year. Usually, the focus of our first trip is community-building, setting the tone, and getting to know each other through reflective journaling and discussions. While we did have some amazing discussions and enjoyed laying the foundation for an incredible year with this unique group, we also found ourselves with a little time one afternoon to practice the skill of observation, which would prepare students for a fruitful year in Science class.
The students and science teacher, Joel, gathered to look together at a few natural occurrences at our base camp. (Ask Joel about his great lichen and fungus joke.) Then, the students were released to wander and observe. They were asked to do a 3-part activity, as many times as possible (the goal was 20). They were to “see” something, “notice” something related, and then hypothesize about why. (“I see… I notice… Why?”)
Afterwards, we re-gathered and got to hear what the students were seeing, noticing, and hypothesizing. Students noticed things like Spanish moss hanging from dead trees, roots spreading far and wide because of the shallow, rocky soil (or lack thereof), and piles of sawdust teeming with carpenter ants – to name a few.
We have some strong observers and thinkers! It will be a solid year.