Session I-6: Processing - pond observations
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Overview: The Pond Observation exercise is the first technical exercise in the program. It involves working individually and dealing with a fairly ambiguous task, a very new kind of challenge for many trainees. In addition to its technical aspects, this exercise provides an adjustment period for the trainees and a transition to a new way of learning. In processing the Pond Observation exercise, trainees have an opportunity to share some of their feelings while going through this adjustment, and to think about what they learned about their own reactions to new situations, as well as how they approach problem-solving. In addition, this session helps clarify and reinforce some of the technical [earnings, and provides an opportunity to think about the application of these [earnings to future situations.
1. The trainer briefly reviews what happened during the Pond Observation exercise, and tells the trainees that, in this session, they will have a chance to discuss the exercise.
2. The trainer points out that there were actually many aspects to this exercise, and asks the trainees from what standpoints it could be discussed? (For example: technical, dealing with frustration/ambiguity, observation skills, approaches to problem-solving, working independently, working in physically demanding conditions, etc.) The responses of the trainees are recorded on the board or newsprint.
3. Once there is a list on the board, the trainer assigns some order to them for the following group discussion, going from the non-technical aspects to the technical ones. The trainer then facilitates a group discussion among the trainees to allow them to share their experiences related to each of the aspects listed. The trainer can pose some of the following questions to stimulate the discussion:
4. The trainer asks the trainees to individually write down three to five things they learned about fish ponds based on their observations that they didn't know before.
5. The trainer tells the trainees that they will be dividing into small groups (four to six trainees per group). Once in their groups, they have a two part assignment. They are to spend the first ten minutes comparing the things they wrote down about what they learned about fish ponds. They are to spend the second ten minutes developing, as a group, a strategy to address this question:
The strategy each group develops should be recorded on newsprint.
6. The large group reconvenes and a representative of each small group presents their group's strategy.
7. The trainer gives the following homework assignment, to be turned in the following morning, then returned to the trainee to keep in his/her notebook: List fifteen questions you now have as a direct result of your observations of the pond system you studied.
The trainer concludes the meeting by making a few final points to remind the trainees that, since most of them are still unfamiliar with fish ponds, haven't yet fully developed their "eye", and still lack a great deal of technical information, they had to make some assumptions in processing what they observed. This is an important first step that assigns some order to their thought processes, but they should be sure to make a point of taking opportunities to test their assumptions and verify the accuracy of their conclusions as they go through training and gain more information. They should also be encouraged to recognize how much they were able to learn on their own, and to note their own progress and accomplishments as they went through this exercise.
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