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First Field Log (makeup for Thursday class)

cteng's picture

The field trip on last Wednesday (2/18) is comprised of two parts, an info session with Ray O (Ms. O) and a brief introduction with the Ms. K’s literary class.

I was drawn to the program because it uniquely avails of the Fairmount water works as part of the curriculum. Engaging local resources, community culture and linking the known environments with the unknown knowledge have repeated themselves many times in our pedagogy and curriculum readings, thus it is exciting to see how theory can be put into action. Though with benevolent purpose, there still exists a primary challenge of incorporating the specially designed curriculum into the existing standard.

A visit into Fairmount Water Works surprised me because it was in fact an educational institution that fosters stewardship of the shared water resources and promotes informed decision about the use of land and water ( The Fairmount Water Work Curriculum Development project aims to develop a curriculum based on the urban watershed to educate the citizens to connect with its past, present and future ( About 8 schools in Philadelphia were chosen to participate in the program while each semester teachers tried to cover two themed units. The watershed is rich in historical, ecological, biological, and environmental connotations, which makes it a great source for knowledge teaching. On one Saturday per month, the teachers would gather together to learn of the necessary knowledge for the curriculum, were introduced various activities, experiments and readings as well as exchanging feedbacks of practice. The curriculum guide and the Regional Guide can be found on their websites:  As shown in the guide, the curriculum was designed into different themes with different lessons. Only basic guideline and activities were suggested, the detailed lesson plan was modified by teachers to fit their own classes, specialties and standard requirements. The lesson plans need to be approved by Curriculum developers and teachers exchange information through a shared online dropbox system. Master mind planning, ellen: COMMUNICATION to final goal of designing and completing the curriculum. 2 themes one semester, slow and moving onto new themes next semester.

My first inquiry into the curriculum is to answer, what's essential or what makes it valuable to use the watershed as a source of learning? What’s special to learn of your own city/neighborhood/community? I have prescribed some tentative benefits: students may be more interested; it provides experiential or hands on practice; it releases a sense of identity, community and pride……
Secondly, to evaluate whether it can be incorporated or substitute the current curriculum, it is important to compare it with current curriculum, especially in regards to student reception and feedback, to see whether it adds onto or builds more of the current curriculum.

Then how do I position myself in the project, in terms of the curriculum, the class, the teachers and my personal academic agenda? This is a question to be answered with more in-class and communication with the project leaders. For now in terms of the CDP, I work in the practice/testing ends to observe, document (especially in the form of photographing students'works) interprete and work with teachers to give feedback and suggestions to feed input to the curriculum development. I may help logistically classroom support, work with students and help encourage them complete assignments. Ms. O discussed some expectations for assistants, some of which are surprsing to me, such as not to become friends with the students. The underlying logic is achieve some level of respect and establish certain boundaries in the classroom to ensure safety and fairness to all studnets. I'm holding some doubts as to how much personl involvement is allowed here, as we also discuss many cases of relationship and personal care in class readings. The principle is linked to a followup major obstacle for me at the moment: How to deliver speeches appropriately, both in terms of intellectual level suitable for a six-grader but also evokes enough respect and acknowledgement.

Some dos:

Some don'ts:
No photograph children


Working with different agendas. Different reports.
Communication links.

Theoretical thoughts:
How does FFW do their job?
How do teachers do their fair amount of job in their existing curriculum? Eg. Love poem.
How to meet Different demands and institutional structures in play (students)
The central struggle of Waterwork curriculum is the interaction/conflict with the original.
(Integrated, supplemental, superimposed)

School looks really nice, large space and facilities, nice neighborhood.
Manayunk neighborhood, working class, gentrifying, young hippie
Classroom racially mixed with most African American and a fair number of white. Total number:

There were about 2/3 kids with special education needs.

The know to shush themselves, very self-aware and I didn't pick out whom. Well-behaved and respectful. Very good manners - in general quiet and respectful

How Ms. O explained the curriculum and pump their spirits up and make them feel special and cherished and appreciated. Each student feedback is really important to the development.
Encourage students and ask questions by involving them.
How students were engaged in prolonged interest and asked very interesting questions about how water works. Eg. some craziness in water, ecology disrupted by alligators and snakes. How the sewage system works and why we have chloride and
- shows they are paying attention, listening, connecting and thinking.
I didn't get to say much in the classroom - kinda curious about my role and involvement in the classroom and how students viewed me personally.
Treat the children with disabilities he same way you treat others.