How many migrations should my class follow? Which ones do you recommend for the
grade level I teach? By unanimous agreement, teachers who participated in last year?s
program advised new teachers to be cautious, noting that more can always be added
the next year.
Here are our general recommendations. If you are teaching alone, do not undertake
more than 2-3 migrations. For variety, select one migration tracked by satellite
and one which students can observe in your region. In addition, the Mystery Class
Project or one of the Spring Fever lessons could be included to help students see
the connections between the life sciences and physical sciences. Note that your focus
can be the progression of spring rather than the details of the migrations. The phenology
lesson on page 117 explains how this can be done. Perhaps the most efficient way
to broaden your students? exposure without becoming overwhelmed is to involve other
teachers in your school. Suggestions for school-wide participation are provided on
Choose Your Focus
Explore the possibilities! As you review the lessons in Section II and the migrations
and spring events in Section III, consider these things:
Timing and Duration of the Migrations
Pay special attention to the timing of those
elements you would like to include this spring. You will find Journey North?s full
spring calendar on pages 20-21. All News updates will be posted according to this
schedule. Note the day of the week that each species and spring event is posted and
the frequency of the postings. The lessons must also fit into the timing of spring.
The recommended time to conduct each lesson is specified in the margin.
Grade Level and School Structure
The structure of your school day is perhaps as
important to consider as the grade level you teach. Due to the interdisciplinary
nature of this project, it fits most easily into the self-contained classroom. In
such settings the content can be integrated across subjects areas at any time during
the school day. For this reason, most Journey North participants are at the 4th-6th
grade level. It?s important to point out that this is primarily a function of school
structure, not program content. The opportunities available for scientific inquiry
are appropriate and valuable at the high school level, and many high school students
are involved. At the other end of the spectrum, many teachers of early elementary
grades adapt the program to their grade levels, focusing on backyard observations
and other activities appropriate for young students. Thus, in making your decisions
consider the amount of time you spend with your students and the subject areas you
must teach as well as the age of your students.
Access to Internet
Your students? access to telecommunications is an important
factor to consider, but participation is still workable where only limited on-line
access is available.
Clearly, students with full access to the World Wide Web can take advantage of
this project to its fullest. The graphics and hypertext links available on the Web
capture the imagination and allow students to follow their own interests. Students
using the Web can access a wealth of Internet-based information that is directly
related to this project. Good access also means students can work independently and
the class can take on more of this project than is generally recommended.
Notwithstanding, teachers can build strong learning around even small pieces of
live information. The lessons in this guide help make this possible. Some teachers
participate in Journey North with no school access at all, printing reports at home
and bringing them to class. Teachers who have overcome such technology barriers are
encouraged to share their solutions with other teachers on the Teacher-Teacher Feature.
Make Your Spring Calendar
Once you have selected the migrations and spring events your class will follow,
make a spring calendar. Use the dates provided on the full Journey North program
calendar and include only those events your class will track. Many teachers have
done this with their students as a decision-making and organization activity.
Expect the Unexpected
Now in our 5th season, we?ve come to expect the unexpected: Animals migrate
later than anticipated, the batteries in satellite transmitters lose power or an
unusually warm season changes the timing of events by several weeks. It?s important
to remember that things will happen this spring over which no one has control. Murphy?s
Law and Mother Nature are sure to intervene with our plans. As a teacher with a classroom
full of students we appreciate the inconvenience this can cause. Therefore, when
plans do change we will try to help you turn these events into teachable moments.
Research ideas, problem solving models and other alternatives and suggestions will
be provided on-line. At the very least we will keep you abreast of developments by
posting updates according the schedule.
While changes in plans cause familiar disadvantages, there are also advantages.
Unexpected events can generate much enthusiasm in the classroom. Also, students are
sure to gain an appreciation for the challenges scientists face in doing their work
?a scientist can lose an entire year?s research in many instances. Patricia Freeney
of Raymond, Maine, put it this way: ?Though it made for creative last minute lesson
planning, the fact that the things didn?t always go as planned showed the students
what it?s like to work with real science. In fact, that is the best part of Journey
North. The students are learning about things that are happening right now in their
world. This is inherently motivating, just as the content of migratory animals is.?