Fishers Island School’s 3rd and 4th Graders Connect with the FI Conservancy

Journaling natural history on Parade Ground

Submitted by Jennifer Burns
Grade 3 and 4 Teacher
Fishers Island School

The grade 3 and 4 class has been busy building, not only a community of learners, but a tribe of citizen scientists. Our year began with setting up a safe, kind and respectful classroom where each individual student can be a part of this community and feel confident enough to take risks with their learning. Enter Justine Kibbe, who has reached out and connected with our class to explore reading Fishers Island, and how stillness can help each one of us to observe and reflect upon our surroundings. She has shared with us her expertise as a naturalist and her local traditional knowledge from both Fishers Island and the Pribilof Islands.

The 3rd and 4th graders have been given the opportunity to take part in monitoring Silver Eel Cove. They have been able to work in concert with Carl Scroxton, Christina Frazier and Justine who collects data and natural history for the Fishers Island Conservancy. Each student has their own journal where they are enabled to record their observations during their time at Silver Eel Cove through prose, poetry, charts, graphs or pictures. Early on it was a challenge to sit still, quiet voices and record; however, as the connections with one another, with this place, and within our own selves have deepened, the process of reading the Island is now becoming a habit of mind.

As the 3rd and 4th grade teacher and a participant, I have been witness to students’ growth on a variety of levels. Through the act of circling up to initiate our time prior to Silver Eel Cove, students have developed their observation and communication skills. Students have transformed into thoughtful speakers and listeners unafraid to share. Students’ writings and depictions in their journals now contain voice, clarity, and additional questions.

By providing this venue, students have been able to grapple with persevering through a given task and be witness to their own individual growth. Our collaboration has afforded the 3rd and 4th grade class authentic, meaningful and ongoing experiences. It has also enabled me (as their teacher) to utilize these experiences to provide thoughtful and applicable instruction in the classroom across all curriculum areas.

This time spent together outside at Silver Eel Cove will continue. I write this with hopes of what the future holds for the students: a continued stewardship of the environment, continued building of connections, developing a plan to communicate findings, branching out to other areas of the island to monitor, and an openness to learn.

Check Also

2019-2020 Fishers Island Phonebooks

Look what 'washed up'. Pick your copies up today.