Yes, I Underestimated Them

A tweet came across my desk last night as I was preparing for today’s return to school. In the tweet was a link to a site offering ideas about how to use digital cameras in the classroom. I was intrigued due to my own experiences with kids and cameras. Clicking through, I read one idea that’s not new to me, but wasn’t on my mind when it should have been: give kids cameras to document science experiments.

With our class taking the next month to immerse ourselves in reading and writing science, I figured it’d be a great way to help the kids observe our plants and provide information about them. This was also a spin on an idea I presented in one of my professional development courses, where students could visit a garden to photograph plants rather than draw them. I figured we could do something different and enhance engagement for the children who struggle to draw and write. I pulled the cameras out of the closet at home and set them with my other bag to bring into school.

Of course, when I got into my room this morning, reality struck. There simply wouldn’t be enough time to charge up all the batteries and organize everything. Poor planning? Perhaps. I’ll take the hit on that. Well, the show must go on.

I thought back to the class’ previous experiences drawing plants when observing them. Nothing too special. The artists did it gladly and well, but most did a very quick sketch without detail that wasn’t an accurate representation of anything earthly. I knew they needed me to show them how a scientist draws – with details, and big enough for someone to learn from. That was my push – “You need to draw a picture of the seed and pretend the person looking at it never saw a seed before. You need to show people what a seed really looks like.”

With my modeling and an authentic, understood purpose, they were able to do it. Some kids struggled to comprehend the size they should draw at, and that it’d help to subtly change colors as seen on the seed, but other than that, what an improvement.

I put the cameras back in the closet and locked them up. I don’t think we’ll be needing them for this anymore.

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