Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Researching and eggs

Spring is a time of growth and, in school, the beginning of the end of the year count down. Students eagerly peer outside to gauge weather conditions and see if they can persuade me to let them outside early. Keeping them interested and engaged can be a challenging task. 

One of the things I like to do to keep kids motivated and learning is to hatch eggs in the Library Learning Commons every few years. This time we will have 2 incubators to hatch out barnyard fowl and waterfowl. Next week students in K-8 will research the bird of their choice and organize the information we will need to hatch and take care of these birds. They all have good homes to go to so students will not be vying for them. 

The first incubator will hold guinea fowl, banty chickens, and barnyard mix chickens. I have tried to time the collection and incubation of the eggs so all birds will hatch around the same time. As we all know, you cannot dictate what Mother Nature does so we will watch, document, and see if my calculations are correct. The guinea eggs were placed this week since they were available and guineas are tricky egg layers. 

 The photo below shows the three types of eggs we currently have incubating. The first is a Pilgrim goose egg, the second a Ancona duck egg, and lastly a guinea egg. The kids loved examining the goose egg and comparing it to the tiny guinea egg. Next week we will add the bantam and regular chicken eggs.

This is the second incubator that currently holds 2 goose eggs and 12 duck eggs. We have been informed that both have had a high hatching rate. We will keep our fingers crossed and hope that happens in this case. 

Next week in class, we will arm ourselves with videos, books, computers, and perhaps skype interviews to learn more about this process. 

Keep following for updates,
The Noisy Librarian

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vacation is a time to catch up!

Genius Hour projects have been flowing in like water over a dam. During this vacation week, I want to take the opportunity to share some of the projects students in grades 6-8 have been working on.

The following reflection was written by 8th grader, Alex. She wanted to investigate what it would be like to be blind for a day. She thought a lot about the different aspects of this particular project. Here are some of her findings and thoughts.

I had a very successful day wearing a blindfold from the early morning all the way to when school ended. Many of my predictions were correct, and other aspects surprised me. My goal was to get as good of an idea as possible of what a blind person goes through every day. I am so happy with the way it turned out because it made me grateful for the gift of sight, intrigued by how certain things were different and others stayed the same, and eager to continue to do everyday things but without the benefit of seeing. One thing that surprised me was how much I adapted to the new feeling of not being able to use my eyes at all. Although it was definitely difficult at times, I adjusted to the foreign sensation of being guided everywhere and relying on someone to help me with almost everything. In the beginning I walked very slowly, scared of bumping into something or tripping, even though I knew very well that my guides wouldn’t purposely cause me to fall. This I expected because we use our eyes so much when transitioning, but after a while I walked at a normal pace especially when I knew I was in a hallway. I was taken aback by how quickly I was able to walk with ease. I was also surprised at how I didn’t have an extremely difficult time keeping the blindfold on. I predicted that I would have a lot of trouble wearing it the whole day, but there weren’t many moments where I longed to take it off. I developed more trust in my peers and my surroundings as the day went on. As I predicted, I used a lot of my hearing as I went through the day. I can tell everyone’s voice from being with them for so long, so I never really had to ask who was talking to me, and I could get an almost precise location of my peers if they continued to talk as I walked towards them. Lastly, something interesting I discovered is as I look back on my day, I can picture everything that happened. This is ironic because obviously I couldn’t actually see anything. I figure this is because I know everyone and everything at school so well, there was a picture going through my imagination even though I didn’t witness it with my eyes.

I found it hardest to wear the blindfold when I was in classes where I had to do work like reading or writing. I felt slightly inept at times, for example, when I lost the task of writing for my group in science class. Even though I had no trouble writing without seeing the paper, it wasn’t neat enough for that particular project. I was unable to write, unable to read information to the person writing, and unable to work on the poster. At first I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that I wouldn’t be able to participate as I normally do, but then I worked on my individual project instead, listening to information offered by the website instead of reading it. Something that was difficult was listening and thinking in math class. Sometimes I struggle slightly in math as it is, and I have to be completely focused in order to understand the lesson or concept to full capacity. In this subject especially, I’m a very visual learner; I found it very challenging having to listen to the equation over and over instead of just glancing down at my paper. My guide in math would read my equation to me a couple times and every time I did the next step in solving it, I would have to hear the new equation. Since it was my own work, I was able to do the writing, but I would have to ask where to put the pencil every time I wanted to do something as simple as writing a subtraction symbol beneath a number. In addition, when I was writing things I had a strong desire to look at what I was creating; this was especially hard when I was drawing because I wanted very badly to see the end result. Lastly, it was very hard to come into the building after I’d been outside. Personally, I think the transition from indoors to outdoors and vice versa is pretty dramatic for the eyes even when you’re not wearing a blindfold. Although it was bright when I first entered the sunshine at recess, I had the most trouble coming back inside. When I first went outside the change in lighting was certainly dramatic but it was nothing compared to going back inside. I would actually describe it as scary because the sudden darkness made my vision go completely blank and it was like entering a pitch black cave. I imagine this more closely resembles really being blind.

Something else that was altered was my sense of direction and sense of environment. Even though I know every area of the school extremely well, without seeing I had trouble keeping an idea of where objects were, like the door or a whiteboard, and sometimes I even felt slightly dizzy. I had to trust that no one would intentionally get in my way or put something in my way, which was difficult because I did get hit by pencils, poked, and scared numerous times. I expected this to happen: for people to take advantage of the fact that I couldn’t see them and therefore had no way of stopping them from doing anything. In a way I don’t think this is a completely accurate representation of being blind. I’m sure people with this disability get taken advantage of often, but I feel like if I was truly blind, people would be more respectful, knowing it’s not just an experiment for one day. Otherwise, most of my classmates were very accommodating. I imagine even if someone has been blind for a very long time and is accustomed to performing everyday tasks without their eyes, they still need a great deal of help from another person. Before carrying out my experiment, I was mostly focused on the sensation of using just my hearing, but I also got a good idea of just how much assistance is required when you can’t see. Almost everywhere I walked, whether it was down the hallway, or just across the room, someone was hooked on my arm. It felt odd, but I wouldn’t have been able to function without someone at all times. I am so grateful to all the people who helped me get through the day, because I most definitely could not have done it by myself.

In conclusion, this was a great experience for me for many reasons. I experienced the strong desire to use my sight to perceive what was happening, like my friends having fun or to look at someone while they were talking to me, or to watch videos on smartboards or observe the environment in the room. I wanted to use sight to establish my surroundings and look at facial expressions and respond with my eyes. Today I was able to utilize hearing to locate the speaker, to determine the mood of my peers or the atmosphere, and to understand an assignment or designated task. I used touch to establish what was around me in close proximity, and to make my way around. A few times I even used my sense of smell where I could detect someone was near me by their perfume or even hand lotion. Also, after spending eight years with this grade, I had an easy time identifying my peers without seeing them. I struggled at times with this experiment, but for the most part found it bearable, probably because I knew at the end of the day I could simply take off my blindfold and see again. I have a huge amount of respect for people who are blind because it’s not as simple as waiting until a school day is over and regaining their vision. Regardless of the wonders that may lie before them, they have no way of removing a blindfold or opening their eyes to see. This I could never imagine, and I feel so lucky to be able to see the world in front of me every day with my own eyes.

                        Moments of the end of the day....

Keep reading,
The Noisy Librarian