Monday, November 12, 2012

Can you ever have too much squid?

I recently mentioned that I had been very busy doing lots of workshops for student-teachers about using resources in classrooms.  This year, a few instructors and I came up with a new spin on how to introduce the diverse range of resources available to them from the Doucette Library, but within a meaningful context.  I've found that book-talking or waving wonderful kits at students, though fun, isn't very effective.  They don’t remember what they've seen or they make lists of stuff that they’ll never look at again.

But, pulling bunches of stuff (aka “packages” of juvenile fiction and nonfiction, kits, posters, teaching resources) together centred around an idea like sound, nutrition or the question, ‘What is art?’ and then letting students play and explore the resources seems to produce a more thoughtful experience.  Questions about the resources and follow-up discussion get them thinking about how these resources can be used in their teaching, what the resources add to the unit,  and if are they worthwhile.  Plus, the hands-on approach for the students is way more engaging.

One of the ‘packages’ I pulled together that kind of surprised me but totally sucked me in, was centred on marine life, specifically the giant squid.  Since Alberta is a prairie province, studying the ocean is not part of the curriculum.  But this fascinating, creepy, slightly repulsive, creature is too good to pass up, if the opportunity should arise.  You never know where the interests of your students will go, right?

During the last few months I've come across pieces in the news and other odd bits of information about these captivating creatures.  I've always been taken with the image of the giant squid’s eye from Steve Jenkins, ActualSize which shows the ‘actual size’ of the eye.  It. Is. Big. : about 25 cm. (10 in.) in diameter. Showing this illustration in a workshop always gets a response from students.

Another book by Lola Schaeferth, Just One Bite: 11 Animals and Their Bites at Life Size, includes a four page spread that shows the jaws of a sperm whale clamping down on a giant squid, its favourite food. Awesome!

Then a recommendation from another blog prompted me to order Giant Squid: Searching for a Sea Monsterby Mary Cerullo and Clyde Roper (594.58 CeG 2012).  I gobbled this book up.  It briefly covers historical references to this fairly unknown creature that tantalize us into wanting to know more.  Scientific knowledge about the giant squid is still relatively new since they live in the deepest regions of the oceans and most information has been derived from dead specimens.  Scientists have been pulling together slivers of evidence for decades as if trying to solve an intriguing cold case.  There are lots of photographs interspersed between blocks of information.

But wait! There’s more! HereThere Be Monsters: the Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid by H.P. Newquist (594.58 NeH 2010) was already in the Doucette Library’s collection.  This book is a lot denser in text formatting and information primarily about the colossal squid (14m or 45 ft long) and the giant squid (estimated to grow up to 13m or 43 ft long).  Many of the illustrations are the same as in Giant Squid.  I found this one a more thorough but slower read.  

I recommend both books but think the first book will appeal to younger kids and struggling readers more.

To fill out the package for the workshop, I included,
 Down Down Down by Steve Jenkins,
The Deep by Claire Nouvian,
a specimen of an octopus encased in a plastic block for comparison, and
a replica of a toothfrom a sperm whale.

There were many more books that I could have supplemented this topic with.

And, I did order a replica of a giant squid beak for next time, so there’ll be one more resource to “oooo” and “ahhh” over. 

I love doing these kinds of workshops.  They present options for our student teachers and resources that they are often unaware of.  The accessibility of the internet has made unit/lesson planning an interesting endeavor that can be too easily padded out with multiple websites of varying quality.  Don’t get me wrong.  I, too, am out there looking for information on the net (see Ocean Portal from the Smithsonian about the giant squid, if you’re really keen) but I'm still in the camp that kids need real ‘stuff’ and books to touch and handle.  I'm here to remind our upcoming-teachers-to-be about that very thing.


Gael said...

Hi Tammy, great workshop today, thank you! And here's the link to the 'mystery eye' found on the beach in florida:

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