Friday, April 8, 2011

When kids' interests drive learning

Sixth graders approached me with excitement. They had discovered some really cool stuff  - old stuff - on the school grounds.  They could hardly contain themselves as they showed me pottery shards, glass bottle necks, rusted implements, a button, and more.  They wanted to start a museum, find out who had lived here before, and had a million questions.  We decided to call Aaron Gore, father of Alex, and an archeologist at the State Museum, to get some advice. 

Aaron identified that their artifacts spanned about 150 years.  We trekked out to the site, that Aaron described as a midden - an old refuse heap.  He explained good practices that archeologists would use and by recess the kids had marked the site with orange flags.

Another budding enthusiast, sixth grader Jack, is bringing bees to Parker.  He has researched bee keeping, attended a bee keepers meeting, and written to several companies for support.  An amazing array of things have started to arrive: seed packets, checks, bee paraphernalia...  A local philanthropist is helping Jack and some friends build bee boxes and import a colony!  I see honey in our future.

As learning specialist, Sally Goldberg, told me, "At Parker no one tells kids 'This is too hard for you.'  And really, nothing is too hard for them!  They take on these high level books or projects, and they get so much out of it!  They are SO motivated!" 

When we support kids' interests, they gain resilience, resourcefulness, and confidence.  Future leaders are born!

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