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Getting Started/Grade 4/South Carolina

"It was rather like jumping off a diving board without knowing if there was any water in the pool. There was! We just kept swimming! Thanks for everyone's hard work at Journey North to help me deliver something REAL to the students in my classroom!"

Holli Hamner
Grade 4
Greenville, SC

This was my first year. I found it hard to make my lesson plans more than a day or two ahead because I didn't know what kind of information was coming in the updates, or how much time I would spend on which
activities.


My advice to getting started with Journey North is the advice I give myself for another year.

#1 Keep it small.
Follow ONE species. No matter how tempting it is to try more. Only follow one. Better to try for SOME depth and understanding that to flit from one to another.

#2 Choose just ONE other major activity to follow.
(I don't think I can follow my own advice on that one! Mystery Classes were just too much fun, and documenting our own spring is just too relevant!)

#3 Make a clear connection to local seasonal observations.
For us it was as simple as recording and graphing soil temperature daily. Next year we will keep a bar graph of the soil temp. and on the same graph, do 2 line graphs in different colors of high and low air temp. That was PLENTY for 4th graders to manage independently.

#4 Try to identify and communicate your evaluation tasks early on.
This is where Journey North could really help out. It would be wonderful to have a menu of SPECIFIC, age-appropriate tasks at primary, intermediate, middle, and high school level. For a first-timer who doesn't know what's coming, it's tricky to develop the task and be on target with degree of difficulty and relevance.

#5 Be aware that there is TONS of written material for you/kids to wade through.
For younger children you may want to select portions from the updates and "copy/paste" them into Word documents of a more manageable size with a more readable font. Some information can be read to the class, some can be read by children from the computer, but there is always a need for kids to have some of their readings in their own hands...so they can mark, highlight, reread.

#6 Get the Teacher's Manual.
It doesn't really tell you how, but it sure helps!

I am hoping to do a better job next year. I have downloaded the Professional Development workshop and someone in our district is taping the broadcast for me. I think that will help a lot! Thanks for helping deliver the real world to our classrooms!

My 4th graders learned that scientists must be faithful
recorders of data. They measured, recorded, and charted our soil
temperature daily. Scientists are like farmers: they can't miss a single
day of doing the chores. That one activity alone taught them the
importance of careful, dependable record-keeping. Now we are truly in awe of the chart of 50 Minnesota springs!

My 4th grade class has learned to pursue the unknown. They loved searching for the Mystery Classes. They found new resources as they looked for ways to prove their hunches. We sent an email to a business in England. We called a student's grandmother who was visiting from New Zealand. We found that people in our building who have traveled or lived abroad were some of the best, "hidden" resources. They were excited to know that I had lived in Lisbon for a year. The students worked in 5 groups of 4-5. Each group tried to locate 2 classes. We couldn't wait to see how close our answers really were.

If you have tips you'd like to share, please write to Journey North: jnorth@learner.org

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