Friday, September 11, 2015

Snails and Guppies.


The TDO proposals are rolling in, and some of the materials have arrived in my classroom.  Of course, last year's apple project is still decomposing on my shelf -- or maybe it is now a completely petrified fossil.  In any case, the room rearranging has begun, as we attempt to make room for the independent projects.  Boxes and bags containing research materials for independent NHD projects -- for those who couldn't fit the class in their schedules, art supplies, violins, trombones, music, flashdrives, three fishtanks, and a newly-designed terrarium.

Oh, and snails.  

Today I found out that everything I thought I knew about snails was completely wrong.  Blame the cartoon industry, designing upright-shelled creatures, smiling shyly to the right, while peeking out of the home they are dragging along, very slowly.

Rachael is researching ecosystems.  She has gathered quite the collection of snails, after yesterday's heavy rain.  (They're pictured to the left, in the lid of the terrarium.)  Not a single one of them was upright and smiling.  Now before you chalk this up to yet another "Not the Gifted Teacher" moments, understand that I really didn't expect that snails actually provided facial expressions worthy of cartoon smiles, but I did think that the shells were something that looked functional and practical, instead of more like a spare tire and wheel chained to a slimy body.

There are a lot of details to work out for each of the projects, and a search for authentic audiences for as many as possible.  There are a number of musical instruments being explored, and several are planning to use their new talents in the Talent Show in December.  There are apps being developed for Android, and Sign Language studies.  There may be cannibalism in the fish tanks, as Ellie studies societal response to over population in guppies.

Yes, TDO is a success, even if it ultimately fails.  For the goals of the project are embedded in the learning they all do about themselves, metacognition,  tenacity, and risk-taking.  Their projects will increase all of that, and more.

It will be well worth sacrificing the innocence of a teacher who thought snails living and transportation situations were much more adorable and desirable than reality.