Monday, November 7, 2011

Journey is Home!

A special package arrived at school last Thursday! When we opened it, we found our traveling classroom bear, Journey! He was curled up with Baguio City coin purses for everyone and some interesting artifacts for us to study and they came all the way from the Philippines! Journey has spent several months visiting a 1st grade class there and we have been learning about life in a country 8000 miles from us through his journal entries and pictures he has sent us since school started. You would have thought Journey was the most important person they had ever met when he popped out of his bag. Their faces lit up and they could hardly stay in their seats.
I love 2nd graders! They are still willing to pretend and "believe" even though they know the difference between fact and fiction deep inside. It makes my job a lot more fun.
Oh... Journey also brought a snack for us. At first the class thought it was a bag of potato chips. Not quite! It was actually a snack of green peas called Munchers. They were a little surprised! :) We will be trying them tomorrow!
My experience with Journey has taught me some things about motivation for learning. I believe he has had a larger impact on my students by NOT being here for students to meet before he left on his trip to visit my cousin's class in the Philippines. There was an intrigue and anticipation that built over the last 3 months. They had pictures of him, read his travel journal entries and got to know him that way. I witnessed students studying maps and finding the Philippines on our globe. Getting them to write was a cinch when I asked them to write to Journey.
Now that he is home, the challenge will be to find new ways to incorporate Journey into what we are doing and keep that motivation going.

 I wonder where he could journey to next?...


  1. Hello, my name is Mitchell Evans and I am pre-service teacher at Illinois State University. I really like this idea. What do you think is the best way to keep students engaged within the classroom?

    1. I'm not sure there is one best way but I have a whole toolbox of strategies that I use - depending on the activity. I vary the activity and provide opportunities for movement and talk. I also change things up or use novelty to bring students back when I see disengagement spreading through my class. Humor and stories sprinkled through the lesson are very important. When
      I have the opportunity to attend a training, I privately critique myself and the presenters looking for what keeps me engaged and what doesn't. I use that "research" to help me when I am in front of my students!

  2. This is a great idea for young students. When I was in first grade, we also had a traveling bear in class. But instead of sending him to places, we sent him with students who were going on vacation. The students would then bring the bear back with a souvenir pin or button, along with some stories to share from the vacation. The students liked this activity, and it was a great way to learn about different parts of the country.