The Private Eye - looking closely and thinking by analogy with jeweler's loupes and inquiry method for hands-on interdisciplinary science, art, writing, math, and more

The Private Eye Field Reports

Field Reports

Indiana Mississippi  
Costa Rica Haiti India  

Private Eye Field Report Of Osage Oranges and Earth Stars...
Check out our own Private Eye field report!



BEVERLY RADFORD - "Introducing The Private Eye to Costa Rica School Children"
SHIRLEY FARRELL- "IThe Private Eye and Gifted Education"
BRENDA HANCOCK - "Ooohs and Ahhhs with The Private Eye"
REBECCA MCKAY - "The Private Eye at the Cornerstone Literacy Workshop - July 2004"
VARIOUS TEACHERS - "Birmingham & Trussville, AL Workshops"
BETH SMITH & ANN BETTIS - "The Private Eye Loupe-look Rap"

Supervisor of Gifted Education
Jefferson County Board of Education
Jefferson County, AL

After attending The Private Eye workshop, it changed the way I taught my gifted students. The students' products were incredible!  Now that I am the supervisor for gifted education, I have brought Private Eye to the gifted teachers in my district. You should have seen the light bulbs turn on!  They loved it!

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Clay Elementary, Clay, AL

I am so excited to tell you what happened during Science time today.  We are currently doing the Ecosystems Module.  Today we added snails to our aquarium.  Before adding them I had the students draw their snail (without loupes).  When we added the loupe for the 5X look, I’ve never heard so many oos! and ahhhs!  Then when we went to 10 I heard – “I can see eyes at the end of the antennas,” “I can see _______!” “WOW!  Look!!”  They didn’t want to stop to go to lunch (about 1.5 hours into the lesson!).  I’ve never seen such excitement over snails!!!  I’m very sorry that we’re at such a high enthusiastic level and it was our last regular day of school!!  I am exhausted from today, but it is an exciting, rewarding kind of exhaustion.  Thank you so much for your part in all of this.
            We did the Chilton County peach loupe activity last August.  (They are the best peaches in the world if you get the right variety!)  Shells and sand dollars were next (early September).  Gourds were next (November).  We did acorns and leaves that actually came from land where Davy Crockett once lived.  (He is linked with out state’s history.)  We also did strawberries this month.  They were picked from a strawberry farm close to here.  We did other loupe activities, but writing and drawing was in student sketchbooks.
I have enjoyed your presentations and grown immensely as a learner from participating in The Private Eye.  Thank you!                       

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Alabama Teacher of the Year
Munford City Schools, AL

It was unbelievable.  Many adults were so moved by the experience they cried.  A colleague, 70 years old from London, brought back a memory from his boyhood - stimulated by looking closely at a branch of a wheat plant.  The poetry was friend wrote a poem from her connections, and analogies with a seashell that took her back to a trip to the beach shortly after she discovered that she was pregnant and discovered she was RH-negative.  [A colleague] and I are going to write an article [on The Private Eye] for our Cornerstone Connections and publish the poetry.  We have asked the authors of the poetry for permission to share their work - it's a go.  When we get it done we will email it to you.  Thanks a million, it was a terrific success.


Birmingham & Trussville, AL
4/27/07 - 5/4/07

We've done many workshops in many locations over the years, and we thought we'd share a few comments from our most recent workshop:

  • “After fourteen years of teaching, I was kind of burned out, and this changed the way I think and will change the way I teach.  A whole new way of looking at things. I needed that.”
    — Jamey Curlee, Teacher, 7th Grade Biology, Hewitt Trussville Middle School, Trussville, AL
  • “The best workshop I’ve been to.”
    — Kathy Troncale,  Teacher of Language Arts 7th Grade, Hewitt Trussville Middle School, Trussville, AL
  • “The most high-brow professional development I’ve ever had.”
     — Beth Smith, Teacher, 5th grade (all girls class), Trussville City Schools
  • “The best workshop I’ve ever been to.  I was never bored.  My wheels were turning: How will I bring this back to my first grade?  I want to integrate everything!  This is how my own boys [sons] learn.   This is the kind of classroom I want my sons in.”
    —Tamra Higginbotham, Clay Elementary, Jefferson County Schools, AL
  • “I’m so excited!  The Private Eye is an opportunity to emphasize ‘No wrong answer' and to open the students up.  I’m going to use the Fingerprint activity next September to emphasize their individuality.   It will help draw them out of their shells.”
    — Michelle Head, Teacher of 6th, 7th and 8th RLC English, Gifted Program, Heweytown Middle School, AL
  • “Awesome workshop!  It’ll help them [gifted students] move away from group think to more independent thinking.”
    — Kit Mawhinney, Teacher, Gifted Program, Grades 3-5 Jefferson County Schools, AL
  • “It was wonderful.  I am so excited to go back to school Monday!  I’m starting on Monday.  Absolutely wonderful!”
    — Karen Williams, Teacher, 3rd Grade, Snow Rogers Elementary, AL

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Trussville, AL

Participants of our Private Eye workshop in Trussville, Alabama

Participants of our Private Eye workshop in Trussville, Alabama, came up with their own way of introducing The Private Eye to their students.  Featuring Ann Bettis and Beth Smith, here's The Private Eye Loupe-Look Rap!

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Tohono Chul Slideshow
JO FALLS - "Through the Looking Glass"
Click on the loupe for the Tohono Chul Slideshow tour!

GAIL PAULIN - "Tucson Teachers Report!"
EMILIE JOYCE - "Summer Programs with Loupes"

Director of Public Programs/Education Curator
Tohono Chul Park
Tucson, AZ

Almost three two years ago a local teacher introduced us to The Private Eye®. Intrigued, we found ways to adapt the program and make it our own by experimenting with a variety of projects and activities during our annual summer “desert discovery” classes. Tohono Chul Park Docents focused on observation skills and on linking what children were seeing to information about the remarkable adaptability of desert plants and animals. Last summer, we took our program on the road and offered it as enrichment programming tied to the county libraries’ summer reading program.

But our greatest success has been with a remarkable, recently completed yearlong partnership with the Flowing Wells Schools.The fifth largest district in metropolitan Tucson, Flowing Wells serves just over 6,000 students in grades K through 12. Our collaboration involved one of the District’s six elementary schools -- Homer Davis Elementary. Selected primarily because of an ongoing advisory relationship we have with the school and its teachers, Homer Davis was the perfect choice. The school plays host to its own habitat garden for butterflies and hummingbirds, and has been rated an A+ school by the state of Arizona. It is also the recent recipient of the national Blue Ribbon School award.

Funded by the Joseph Stanley Leeds Foundation and the Heritage Fund of the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, the “Through the Looking Glass” project involved the participation of one classroom from each grade level – K through 6th and special education for the course of the 2000-2001 school year. Using grant funds, each teacher was provided with his/her own copy of The Private Eye® book, along with a carry tote filled with natural history specimens for hands-on use. Each student was provided with his/her own jeweler’s loupes, 3-ring notebook for organizing/storing their work, and assorted drawing materials (paper, colored pencils, watercolors, etc.).

At Tohono Chul Park, the Education Staff met with the Docent Education Committee to discuss strategies and plan a course of action. Activities surrounding the Private Eye® curriculum were assessed and those appropriate to the project were selected, along with several new lesson plans.

Team Docents were recruited (21 in all) and training/planning meetings were set to make the final selection of activities and provide practice in classroom facilitation. Two to three Tohono Chul Park Docents were assigned to each of the seven classrooms to act as facilitators and exploratory guides. Over the summer Docents began collecting specimens for the classroom kits and supplies and equipment were ordered.

In early August a weekend “get-acquainted” session was scheduled for Team Teachers and Docents to meet and prepare a series of lesson plans for the first semester of school. Together, the teams devised classroom visitation schedules. Docents began visiting classrooms on a regular basis, at least twice a month, during the school year. They provided instruction in the use of the loupe, direction in basic drawing techniques and the impetus for critical thinking explorations of the items under scrutiny – everything from cactus spines and mineral specimens to pronghorn skulls and pill bugs.

 “Before this program, nature was boring, but they made it fun!
It would be nice to teach other people about the world they live in."
                                                       -Homer Davis Elementary student

The overlying goal of this project was to develop hands-on resources to enhance and amplify the school’s Outdoor Wildlife Habitat previously funded by a Heritage Fund Grant. Science and environmental education were the major focus of the project, but teachers found that the interdisciplinary activities and objectives used skills spanned the entire curriculum from language arts to fine arts. For example, a study of skulls and skins easily led to theories about animal adaptations. From this evolved detailed drawings of mammal dentition and creative poetry on the lives of desert animals -- from the animal’s point of view. 

The use of The Private Eye® tools and curriculum did allow teachers to expand their hands-on use of the Outdoor Habitat, successfully taking students from lower to higher levels of thinking and developing multiple intelligences while making the world of nature more accessible. In one class, “pocket museum” collections focusing on native plant species were collected from the Habitat. Other groups studied pollination, bird migration, habitat components, and conducted a unique pill bug exploratory study.

Hands-on learning as practiced by Tohono Chul Park provided opportunities for joint experimentation. The role of student and teacher was fluid and alternated back and forth between participants. The involvement of adult retirees, Docents at Tohono Chul Park, created an added environment of intergenerational learning that allowed for learning in a social context as well as an academic one. These 21 trained Docents used the students’ natural curiosity to lead them into more structured activities, offering multiple/multi-sensory modes of learning along with active exploration and self-developed models. Traditional logical/mathematical learning was enhanced with the use of props – rather than simply discussing how a bird’s feathers “zip” together, students actually pulled one apart and watched it come together again with The Private Eye® loupes. These spatial, tactile and visual experiences provided rich imagery that complemented logical/mathematical descriptions.

At the end of the first semester a mid-year evaluation session was held for the entire team to assess the success of the program. At this time suggestions were made on how to begin incorporating the Outdoor Habitat with the onset of good weather and ideas for new classroom activities were shared. This was followed by a final evaluation session at the end of the school year in May, attended by all teachers and docents, as well as the Homer Davis principal, District Superintendent and Career Ladder Director. The team discussed the entire project and determined its efficacy in meeting its stated objectives. Both Tohono Chul Park and the Flowing Wells District awarded certificates of appreciation to all participating Team Teachers and Docents. In addition, teachers received the maximum allowable credits for Career Ladder and State certification. A presentation to the School Board in May even spotlighted several participating Team Teachers and their students.In the end, summative evaluation of this project came not only from the Team Teachers and Docents, but also as a University of Arizona graduate project. Students from the School of Public Administration and Policy conducted an evaluation of the “Through the Looking Glass” partnership for classroom credit. To quote from their Executive Summary:

  • 93% of participating students said they “like” or “loved” the program.

  • 84% of participating students said that they would like to be in the program again.

  • Of the nonparticipating students that had heard of the program from their friends, 69% said they would like to be in the program also.

  • When asked what they liked about the program, several students reported that they like activities that mixed science with other disciplines such as art and history. They also like the hands-on experiences.

  • Participation in the program was significantly and positively correlated with better attitudes towards science and teachers reported that the program stretched the children’s imaginations and piqued their interest.

  • 78% of participating teachers reported that they learned “a lot” about the local desert at school, compared with 45% of the control group.

  • Teachers reported that they had never attempted nature education before the program, but now they viewed the environment as a teaching resource. There was also evidence of increased teacher mastery of natural science subjects.

  • Special education teachers said that the program was better able to reach their students than anything they had tried before was.

  • All teachers reported that they would continue to use The Private Eye questions and loupes because they help the students to look at the world in a new way, they help the students to learn the scientific method and they stimulate creativity and higher level thinking.

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Secondary Science Resource Specialist
Tucson Unified School District

The Private Eye.
In Tucson ... the dusty Private Eye!
What else does it remind me of?

  • how one workshop led to over 2000 loupes fastened to well over 2000 eyeballs, adult & student inquiry... and enchantment!

  • a $2.50 journey to other worlds;

  • contagious fascination, linking learners at all (st)ages;

  • Observation, coupled with stream of consciousness creates a continuous flow of one loupe connected to one mind = a text book of infinite chapters with personal relevance. The Nature of The Tucson Private Eye.

Our first copy of The Private Eye arrived in TUSD several years ago with a note from an insightful administrator that simply said.... "Take a look at what they're doing in Seattle." It was clearly an ingenious, intriguing book; we talked about it, passed it around, louped a bit, but then were swept away in our daily hurry.

Sometime later we began a partnership with microscopist Gary Chandler, from the University of Arizona MSE department and the TUSD Science Resource Center staff. Teachers grades 7-12 were learning to operate the SEM and archive their SEM images for classroom use.

Careful observation and attention to detail are required to interpret and understand the strange and fascinating images produced. We were easily lost in the high power magnification world. How to help our students and ourselves comprehend the abstraction of objects magnified 25, 000 times or more? The need to understand changing of scale was a key.

The Private Eye, sitting on my office shelf, unlocked our solution! Just as in Kerry Ruef's account of her rediscovery of her dusty loupe (pg.5 in The Private Eye) I dusted off the book, and the SEM teachers began to explore the power of the tools within. We could encourage students to search, look closely, imagine and express their discovery in creative ways, using The Private Eye approach - and it would be the basis of scientific discovery! The Private Eye would, even for starters, allow them to experience wonder and excitement in looking closer. A simple 5X magnification provided our entree to uncharted micro worlds of mind-boggling magnifications! We had discovered a foundation for probing investigations at higher powers. The teachers and microscopists loved it! We were hooked!Not long after introducing The Private Eye, we realized our need for an in-depth exposure. By combining funds from several sources (federal and corporate grant moneys) Kerry and David were contracted to do a two day Private Eye workshop in September 1996. There is no substitute for working with the originator of a powerful concept. (An unsolicited endorsement for the wonders of Kerry & David! )

Our need to mix funding for the workshop from Title II, Title I and their Exxon Math Science grant for early education resulted in a novel mix of teachers, resource staff and university students, educators and researchers grades K-16. The interaction invigorated us. Conversations and connections revealed divergent paths toward surprisingly common goals. Each group gained a sense that The Private Eye was relevant for them. Consequently, we are becoming a very "snoopy district", poking loupes into nooks and crannies of learning, previously unconnected.

Two weeks after the first encounter with Kerry and David, the secondary teachers facilitated an introduction to The Private Eye for 125 science teachers at the district meeting. Each of the 10 sites received a Private Eye book and loupes. This one exposure has stimulated Private Eye activities in 70% of TUSD high schools. Teachers are currently requesting slots in the three Private Eye workshops scheduled this summer! Elementary teachers and resource staff initiated Private Eye connections in math, science, language arts, fine arts, and thematic workshops The message of The Private Eye transcends grade/age levels and content disciplines and is helping us focus on skills essential to learning throughout life!A potpourri of our Private Eye experience (or, What else does it remind us of - in TUSD?):

  • Early childhood educators, on hearing of the first PE workshop ....schedule a second workshop with Kerry & David for preschool teachers. They gained fresh personal perspective (teacher as learner) ways to focus and develop paper towel tube viewers to create a field of view for big and little folks. Enhances preschoolers exploration even without a loupe !

  • SEM Project, middle school teacher, Joan Manson, At Booth Fickett MS Magnet used PRIVATE EYE... result whole faculty inservice requested & presented by SRC resource Sharyn Chesser in October 96. Joan also features Private Eye in her part of the SEM presentation at NSTA Phoenix.

  • Loupes become standard equipment at Cooper Environmental Resource Campus, (TUSD's Outdoor Field School) thanks to Doris Evans who attended Private Eye I in September '96.

  • Science Resource teacher Mary Lou Rankin takes The Private Eye activities to 20 MS science facilitators ....visiting language arts resource teacher from Townsend MS is wowed! ... purchases multiple sets of Private Eyes loupes for the school .

  • SRC resource teacher Marleen Kotelman does workshops for teachers at Sam Hughes Elementary.

  • Exceptional Ed teachers, gifted and self-contained LD use Private Eye skills among students traditionally unable to focus.

  • University of Arizona Post Doc Uwe Hilgert wears his Private Eye loupe leash on a daily basis during his K-12 outreach activities, to model being a close-up investigator.

  • Education department at Arizona Sonora Desert Museum explores PE as tool for HS Young Naturalists class

  • Loupes are see worthy! Christa McCauliff Award winner, Marine Biology teacher Kathy Krucker, uses The Private Eye in comparative marine organisms labs At Palo Verde Magnet HS. Can you scuba with a loupe?

  • Sahuaro HS Earth Science teacher Ron Bernee's students loupe look at earth materials, fossils and leaves. Poetry and art emerges as part of science. After Ron's workshop experience in August he begins having dreams about life in a shrunken, in a miniature world.

  • Rich White, At-Risk teacher from Cholla HS borrows loupes from SRC, loves results, attends workshop, is "hooked on louping!"... now has his own class set.

  • Loupes invade Family Science nights at multiple sites. Parents, students and teachers explore & wonder together.

  • In addition to loupe looking in general and research biology sections and the magnet HS , Bio teacher Margaret Wilch includes The Private Eye in her Master's program preceptorship on insect gall and symbiosis.

  • Pueblo HS Chemistry teacher John Hess - his goal is to make students more aware of the parts which make up a whole. Uses loupes to engage students in more careful observation and thinking.

  • Pueblo HS teacher Andrew Lettes uses loupes to introduce fingerprinting in forensics unit.

  • Science Connectors (U of A class where science undergrads adopt a classroom for a semester) take loupes to K-12 to classes as part of their mentoring programs in over 14 schools.

  • Art teachers ...talking to science teachers at Sahauro HS ....want to share Private Eye!

  • Carillo Elementary School- Judy Darcy and Lily Olivas give PE workshop for 15 teachers grades 3-5. They also did a parent workshop using the loupes.

  • Menlo Park Elementary has PE workshop for teachers and teacher aides. Celia Young, a family liaison, was a presenter.

  • Outdoor play classes now include loupe looking as a regular part of their program.

  • Ochoa Elementary School holds school wide workshop for teachers/staff.

  • Pueblo Gardens Elementary incorporated PE in faculty workshops, outdoor play project, and a community park project where community and school members interact!

  • Van Buskirk teacher Amy Levin starts the morning each day with a loupe looking/writing activity in her 2/3 combo class. They have been doing this continuously since Amy attended the workshop in September! She has noted a change in students: they now take their observations very seriously! (Habits of mind!) Recently her class took a field trip to Sahuaro National Park with 6th grade loupers from Utterback MS for some close-up desert watching!

  • Teacher Kathy Lohse did Private Eye sharing sessions for 25 K teachers.

  • Louping in the future includes:

...Three additional two-day workshops with Kerry & David are scheduled for May/June 1997 providing a common denominator for linking educators from formal and informal pre K-college settings in our community... AND a desert overnight for teachers at our outdoor environmental campus.The Private Eye? What else does it remind me of now?...a powerful catalyst for interaction
...a unifying viewpoint
. meaning for the phrase ...... "Let's see."...

As teachers engage in their own learning, they transcend content and system barriers; new activities flow and renewed clarity of purpose for learning emerges. My loupes now hang ready in my car, on their loupe leash, awaiting my next tour... or test drive for a fellow adventurer. Here's looking at ... whatever!

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International Wildlife Museum of the Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF)
Tucson, AZ 85745

I promised to get back to you on how the use of the loupes went during our summer program. We had one of our most successful and quality programs to date after 6 years. I have to attribute that in part to the use of the loupes.

We did not use the curriculum per se, but I did my homework and read the “Science” section.

We used the loupes in conjunction with a revised schedule of fun, active games/activities based on Cornell’s books “Sharing Nature with Children” and what he calls Flow Learning. The focused quiet time was often the use of the loupes to closely explore items from the theme of the day. There was a moment when the planning paid off and kids were likening popcorn to planets and hot air balloons! The children also seemed to be more comfortable with their ability to draw by looking in the loupe. Usually we have children telling us how much they can’t draw.

The money spent was well worth it. We sent the loupes home with the children and I hope they offer a different perspective and a lifetime of closely examining their world. Not all the children will become scientists but I know they will all be creative, observant individuals. What more could we hope for?

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TRACY WIERMAN - "Tales from a Private Eye-itinerant"
SUZANNE BRILEY - "Sheraton Hotels"
TERRY FISCHER - "A Five Year Approach"
SHELLY FERNALD - "The Private Eye and Descriptive Language"
LYNDA RAQUEL - "Loupes Make Learning and Teaching Fun"
C. L. MOSS - "Likin' Lichens With A Little Help From The Private Eye Loupes"
DENISE GIDEON - "Loupe-Look Journals"

Math and Gifted Specialist K-8
Redding School District
Redding, CA

As an itinerant teacher I spend much of my time on the road and look like a bag lady as I wander from classroom to classroom on the campuses at which I work. My bag is a canvas tote with red straps and one pocket on which the words "I Love Math" are tattooed. The contents of the bag include a copy of Nathan Levy's "Stories with Holes", my calendar, some pens and pencils, a bottle of drinking water, my reflective journal, "The World in a Box", 2 sets of loupes, and my Private Eye guide - everything this transient needs to carry out the daunting task of motivating and challenging the students in my charge. I am currently working to help 7 schools keep 150+ Gifted and Talented (GT) 3rd - 8th graders enthused and interested in learning what we have decided is important to teach them. There are many facets to the GT program I coordinate; one is of particular significance for this venue, and involves the 60+ GT kids on the only 6th - 8th grade campus in the district.

I began the year by teaching one period per week in a 6th grade QUEST class (our district's version of character education), a 7th grade language arts class and an 8th grade science class as a "push-in" approach to meeting the GT kids' needs. The goal was to have an opportunity to work with the GT students in their non-GT classrooms so that I could mentor the teachers using the methods I have found successful in challenging and motivating all kids. I chose "The Private Eye" curriculum as the vehicle for this delivery because it has all of the components necessary to make my goal achievable, and fortunately it fit in the bag! Using "The World in a Box," the Private Eye curriculum has connected the world of language, wonder and metaphor to the worlds of personal and social growth (6th grade QUEST), mystery novels (7th grade language arts) and astronomy (8th grade science) and provided an approach in which all students could experience the thrill of success. I have guided teachers and their students through many interesting in-class "field trips" that have strengthened the academic component they and their daily teachers have been working so hard to master.

I recall one of the 7th grade lessons that was particularly exhilarating for the students, the substitute teacher and me. We had been working with the idea that close and meticulous observation is vital to the solving of mysteries. On this particular day my bag and I arrived in the classroom and found the quote "How you see the problem is the problem" on the whiteboard. After discussing the meaning of this quote and its applicability to the world of mystery, one young man said, "Perception is reality." Both ideas are integral to any investigator; without the ability to see things from another point of view a detective can not begin to envision the possibilities that lie in the world of the mystery. Needless to say, I promptly wrote his zinger of an insight on the board next to the quote the teacher had left for us to ponder. His statement was the perfect segue into the lesson I had planned. I had no way to know that the route we would take to get to this particular lesson would be so powerful or appropriate (what I had planned was much more mundane). We then did a loupe-look on an item from "The World in a Box" and wrote "'x' is to _____ as 'y' is to me" statements (from p. 197 in the guide) with an additional "because ..." statement tacked on to the end. All students were successful in viewing a natural item from the item's perspective, as well as their own. Here's a student example:


Training Manager, Sheraton Hotels
San Francisco, CA

This is the second time I've ordered from you.
I have used some of your written material in creativity classes for our managers but have not yet incorporated the loupes into training - It's coming up. I will let you know how it goes.This set [of loupes] is for an organization I'm involved with called San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG). We do a lot of work in schools and with underserved youth, using the garden as a classroom and as a form of therapy/communication. I'm going to give this set to S.L.U.G. to be used by their volunteers. Some of the staff members have seen your book and were excited about the ideas.

One of our projects is to put worm bins, for composting of organic wastes, in the classrooms. We've had problems with teachers following up on care for the worm bins - I think if they looked at your book they could find a lot of ways to include the composting project into their curriculum - and then the worm bin would be more successfully maintained. Funding for S.L.U.G. comes from SF Recycling and Solid Waste Management, so we are looking for lots of ways to encourage people to compost as well as do more conventional recycling. Thanks for a great resource!

Greenville, CA

We are a homeschool family, having fun using The Private Eye Guide. I think I'm having as much fun, if not more, than my children. We have used the loupes to help us closely observe objects over the past several weeks.

The First Snowfall

The snow is dancing
As it comes down
It is like falling fog
The fog is in the valley
And the snow is sliding down
I want to go down it
Elena Salvatore, age 7The First SnowfallThe snow is painting the barn roofs
It is cold and white
It looks like powdered sugar
Shooting stars in the Earth's atmosphere The flakes are big like ashes from a volcano It looks like confetti falling from the sky Are the angels having a party?

— Joseph Salvatore, age 8

Bear in mind that these are the first poems they have ever written, having some kind of fear of creative writing. They were shocked to find that, as we put together their analogies into an order, that they had actually written a poem!

Hope you enjoy these, as much as we have enjoyed visiting the other work on your web page.

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Fremont Elementary
Modesto City Schools
Modesto, CA

Many of the students I have this year have been using The Private Eye for the past 5 years. They started in 1st grade with Ms. RoseMary and have been a part of the group rotation that we do at our school. The difference I have seen in this group of 6th graders is the amount of detail they add to their drawings, and the depth they have in their lists of "what it reminds me of...." Students want to use their loupes often, not just during "loupe time." They bring in their own specimens to examine and want to explore their world more closely. Although they have been using the program for 5 years, they are still excited about it, and look forward to loupe time. They have tremendous pride in their drawings, and they should— They look amazing!

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Science Specialist
Birney Elementary
Long Beach, CA

I have been using your Private Eye materials for the last 11 years with my Elementary science students, grades 1-5, including special education students.  I start with my younger students to teach them about how to observe and use "descriptive language" to share about their investigation.  These skills have transferred as the students move on to the upper grades. The details I receive in their lab write-ups are fabulous. I have also used your tools for years with my pre-service science method students.  Your Private Eye materials are one of the best purchases I have ever made.

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Lodi Unified School District
Lodi, CA

My name is Lynda Raquel and I teach 5th grade for Lodi Unified School District.  I was recently introduced to your loupes at the CSTA Conference in San Francisco, where I participated in The Private Eye workshop.  I absolutely love these things and bought half a class set and the book that day!  Now I would like to place an order so that I will have a full class set.  When I brought the loupes home from the conference my 5-year-old and 11-year-old were equally impressed and went around the house 'louping' for 2 hours!  I think they are a wonderful addition to the curriculum at any grade level and I feel teachers at my site would be receptive to learning more about them.

[updated field report follows]

I received my order and have had the chance to introduce the loupes to my class.  They love them!  We louped our hands and generated a list of ‘looks like... reminds me of...’   Then each student used his/her list to create a poem about his/her hand.  And that's where we're at now.  What was really exciting was watching some of my EL students realize how easy it was to turn their list into poetry.  The descriptions they came up with included vocabulary that they wouldn't normally use when simply describing their hand.  The analogies they used just naturally led into poetry.  So now they're working on final drafts.  As they finish, I'm handing them back their loupes and they are to ‘loupe again’ and draw an image of what they see (still the hand).  Their drawn images need to relate to their poem.  …  My students are really into this!  I'm so excited to see the end results of our first ‘louping’ project.  …  I get excited about anything that makes learning (and teaching) fun, and these loupes do it for me, and my students!  …  Thank you for such caring service and a wonderful product.  I look forward to ordering from you again!

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"Likin' Lichens with a Little Help from The Private Eye Loupes"                                       K-1 and Middle School
Ecological Educator
Mattole River Watershed, CA

Look at any ordinary, familiar object through a loupe and you suddenly drop into a world of weirdness, magic, and odd beauty. But take something in nature you might walk by everyday without noticing, something that’s already weird, magical and oddly beautiful even to the naked eye (if we ever stopped to look), add the loupe, and your appreciation for the “alien” will go up exponentially!

As an ecological educator in the Mattole watershed, I visit six different schools in three separate school districts, and work with students from K-12. When I stumbled across “The Private Eye” curriculum—one of the most exciting teaching tools I’d ever seen—I couldn’t wait to introduce other teachers and students to “loupe world.” The loupes and questions are a terrific adjunct to any ecological program. But what to start with? So much to look at, so little time!

A teacher at Whitethorn Elementary School solved the problem. As part of a unit on Antarctica, she and her K-1 students had learned that only a few plants are tough enough to survive in that extreme environment ……including lichens. And by the way, she told her students, everywhere you look in our Mattole neighborhood you’ll find tough little lichens growing on trees, roads, and rocks. Well, that was all her students needed to hear. Like wood rats foraging for exotic nesting materials, her students brought all sorts of beautiful specimens into their classroom.  Old man’s beard lichens (usnea), “British soldiers” (cladonia), “lung lichen” (lobaria pulmonaria) and others…...the watershed was a treasure trove of possibilities.

This is where the loupes and I entered the picture. Penny, the teacher, was the carnival barker whipping up initial curiosity and enthusiasm. I passed out the loupes, drawing paper, and pieces of lichens. The curriculum was off and running! At first, some of the students had a little trouble closing one eye. But by the second or third session with the loupes, every student was loupe-savvy. Their drawings amazed Penny and me. These little kids were sketching, in impressive detail, the little fruiting cups that characterize cladonia, and in their drawings they were doing something else very sophisticated:  they were changing scale, blowing up their tiny specimens to fill the 5 by 7 inch space we had provided for their sketches. The Private Eye helped their language skills, too. These little 5 and 6 year olds had never heard the term “analogy” before, but in no time they were coming up with all sorts of great analogies for what they saw in their lichens: “It looks like a brain that got smooshed,” “it reminds me of an exploded missile,” “it looks like a whirlpool in the river.”

Whitethorn School’s 5th-7th grade teacher also brought me into his classroom to do a lichen unit using The Private Eye.  Again, the students took to analogical description like it was second nature to them, which it basically was. From the time we’re very young, we use analogies and comparisons (without even knowing the terms for what we’re doing) to make sense of what we’re seeing. “That reminds me of…..”  is the way we humans think, whether we’re 6 or 60. We gravitate naturally to patterns and similarities between objects. The older students’ drawings were also full of wonderful detail, and the kids also had fun speculating about what purpose some of the lichens’ structures served.

For me, this is just the beginning of a long-term relationship between The Private Eye, ecological education, and Mattole watershed students and teachers. Lichens are great bioindicators and I can see leapfrogging with the students and their loupes to another fascinating group of bioindicators—the aquatic macroinvertebrates (insects that live in the water) of the Mattole River. For now, the students are likin’ lichens, but with the loupes against their eye sockets, I figure it’s only a question of time before the students will be “buggin’ bugs!

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Saint Mark’s Episcopal School
Upland, CA

At long last, here are the sample Loupe-Look Journals that my fourth grade Students use as a year long activity.

This is a wonderful activity and students look forward to it each week.  We spend 15 minutes each week looking at a variety of items that are in your kits, that I provide and, eventually, that students bring in.  Each week brings a renewed sense of wonder for the students.

Each month I ask students to select one loupe-look and from that we develop a descriptive paragraph about the item using the analogies that were generated during the initial loupe-look.  I have used your Private Eye text for most of these activities.

I can not thank you enough for this “program.”  It brings an atmosphere of scientific observation into the classroom that has impacted every area of the curriculum.

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3/4th Grade Multi-age Classroom
Lincoln Orchard Mesa Elementary School
Grand Junction, CO

When I first was introduced to The Private Eye program last summer, I had no idea the impact it would have on my teaching and the children's learning in class this year. It began the first week of school when a group of children wrote a play depicting the proper use and care of the jeweler's loupes. Since then they have written wonderful poems, riddles and stories.

The children's work is kept in 3-ring binders (slipped between plastic protector sheets) organized alphabetically. They love to go back and see their own growth and share what they've done with friends and their parents (and anyone else who'll take time to listen)

.I am especially pleased with the way using The Private Eye has transferred over into the children's thinking and writing within other disciplines. Their Math and Writer's journals, research reports, and letters to pen-pals are filled with beautifully descriptive words. Many times when they share their writings in Writer's Workshop groups I hear the words, "Be more specific." and "What else can you say about..." and "I can see... with your words."Recently I applied for and received a small grant through Eisenhower funds. In March I will facilitate an in-service to train teachers in my school within our district. Several of my students will demonstrate the jeweler's loupes. I know how proud I will be when the teachers watch my children's eyes light up and expressions of the sheer joy of learning fill their faces. Then too, others will be as enthralled by the program as I have been.

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LAURIE S. JOHNSTON - "Keeping a year-round portfolio"
BARBARA DYCHE - "Dandelion Fun"

Signal Hill School
Belleville, IL

This is the second year I've used The Private Eye Program as the foundation for the Gifted and Talented program curriculum. This year I'm focusing heavily on grades 3-6. I see "Talents" students once per week. Everything the students do is kept in a drawing notebook: drawings, analogies, poetry, short stories, research, and all handouts. Students are using the same notebooks they started with last year, and many have been impressed with the progress they've made in such a short time, whether it be their drawing abilities, their analogies, etc. The notebook serves as a portfolio where students can observe their own progress as often as they like. It is also an assessment tool for me - and I like to show it to parents during conferences. I go through the notebooks regularly, xerox drawings, and copy them onto assignment reminder sheets for students in all the grade levels in the program to admire. My next step is to include these drawings in the Talents Newsletter I send home to parents several times a year.

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Geneva, IL

I've used the loupes with great success as a way to inspire gifted students in grades 3-5 to write poetry. We examined lowly dandelions and discovered them to be gorgeous, complex flowers. Then, we wrote similes and metaphors about them. From there the students wrote wonderful free verse poems about them with fantastic artistic illustrations. They wrote about the dandelions being the "widows of the garden whose children left with the wind" or "soldiers standing guard around the garden." I've now retired from that job, but I'm teaching part time and must order more loupes and materials to use with the current students since I can now design my own curriculum. Please, please, please come out with Book II!

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ANNE TINKEL - "Beyond Elementary Explorations"
ANNE TINKEL - "Parents and Seashells and Loupes, Oh My!"
JULIE CONLON - "Optics with The Private Eye"

Study Elementary
Fort Wayne, IN

Dear Kerry and David,

I loved your inservice this summer! I began using the loupes with my students the very first day of school. They loved them! I showed them how to hold them up next to their eye, and then bring the object they were studying up into focus, or to bend down to focus.

As I mentioned this summer, my first unit of study (for 9 weeks) is observation and classification. We sorted wooden beads, shaped pasta, colored buttons, packets of play money, etc. The first 2 days, we just divided things according to shape or color. Then, I introduced texture. I had them sort shapes I had cut out of wallpaper, some of it textured. I let them examine their favorite pieces with their loupe. They loved it! I had them write in their Reflections notebook about "what else it reminds me of." Some of the wallpaper pieces evoked memories of grandma's house and some other unusual things. It was all very exciting, both for them and for me, as their teacher. The neatest thing was when we examined fancy carved beads with our loupes. I gave them each a plastic cup for a pedestal and a frame to draw in. I demonstrated how to draw to fill the frame. Some of the students did such a great job. There were at least 6 that made their drawings so precise that if I had sent you a photo of 10 of the beads, you would be able to instantly identify which bead they drew.

One of my ESL students is especially talented in his drawing, which is good, because it is very affirming for his self concept -- he has lots of difficulty with spelling when he writes, and it is very hard for me to know what he wants to communicate, and it is very frustrating for him. Just last week, we made carbon rubbings of our fingerprints. The second day, when I passed their fingerprint papers back to them, I told them we were going to examine them and classify them according to type. I said they should look closely at them and tell me what they saw. One of the kids asked, "Can we use our loupes?" Then, I had 3 students draw what they had seen. They did a pretty good job! Then, I showed them the "official" samples of the 3 types, and they were able to identify the student who had sketched that particular type! It is difficult for me to hold back -- I want to do lots more with the loupe, but I need to follow my agenda. This Thursday, we are going to the Crime Lab to see how the pros do fingerprinting. In 2 weeks, we are going to IPFW, one of the local universities, to observe and classify trees and leaves.

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Study Elementary
Fort Wayne, IN

One of the resource teachers in my building was hosting a visit from her dad on Friday. She asked when I would be teaching science; she wanted him to see me "in action." He came in and stayed for about 90 minutes! We passed around the collection of shells that one of my ESL students had acquired from the beaches in California when she lived there. We passed our loupes mounted in colorful lacy elastic, got out our Reflections books, and started comparing: what else, what else, what else. Her dad sat down at an empty desk and participated in the lesson with us. He had some good "what else's," too! Then, we passed the "frame paper," the pedestals, and the permanent ink pens, and we started sketching. He enjoyed that, too. One of my little girls had a hissy fit the first time we sketched; this time, I did not hear a peep out of her. When I went to check her sketch of the shell, it was wonderful. She was proud of herself, and I was proud of her improved attitude toward her sketching ability. I have not incorporated color in their sketches yet. That will be my next leap into the unknown.

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Outreach Coordinator
Purdue University, IN

I discovered The Private Eye several years ago while I was teaching and had student work displayed on The Private Eye website. I still use it as a resource even as physics outreach coordinator. Last week I did a lesson on optics for first graders. I present the definition of a lens being a curved surface. We move from magnifying with a drop of water, then move to a marble, and finally to a loupe. With each, kids are taught that science, including physics, starts with observation and leads to a question. I remember louping a sand dollar with middle school students for over an hour while they hypothesized about the little hole in the sand dollar. Thanks for the great work. You are truly an inspiration for creative teaching.

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Associate Professor of Education
William Penn University, IA

"Undergraduate Responses to the Private Eye Loupes"
On March 28, 2005, students enrolled in the Language Arts course at William Penn University, Oskaloosa, Iowa, participated in a Loupe (The Private Eye) learning experience. Thanks to The Private Eye, each student had their own loupe and information to keep—both for the day’s class and as a future reminder of the many inquiry learning possibilities offered by “Looking and Thinking by Analogy”--experiencing the world through the lens of The Private Eye loupe. Students were given a variety of nature items to study through the loupe. First they were asked to hold the loupe close to an arm and focus on the skin. Then they were asked to bring the loupe to an eye, and bring an arm or hand close until the focus was clear. An effusion of comments began: “It looks like lizard skin!” “Wow!” and “Neat!” The questions, “What else does it remind me of? look like? feel like? brought new comments: “My skin looks like leather.” “It looks really different magnified!”Students chose an item to examine. Available were an assortment of seashells, sea glass, geode pieces, rocks, pinecones, and pussy willow branches. Again questions, “What do you see?” “What does it remind you of?” “Why does it look like that?” “What comes to mind to describe it?” and other similar “thinking by analogy” questions were asked. The questions stimulated questions and discussion among the students. Next students completed a loupe drawing, first looking through the loupe, then drawing what they saw. The students were invited to write their analogies down--as many descriptive words as they could. Students then wrote to put their ideas into context—it could be prose or a poem. Students were hesitant at first to share their writings, but once one student shared, they all seemed to be eager to share. Below is one I wrote while looking at a seashell:

Found you on the ground
See you in the sky
Looks like the milkyway
Looks like an eye
Stormy weather, comet’s tail
Cyclonic, swirling, staring

— Carole Gile

The following comments are representative of the class’ reactions and responses to this learning experience:

Samantha: “I felt like a little kid seeing the world through a whole different perspective. I was excited to look at everything and see how it looked under the loupe. I found the process a great way to have the children write poetry. Also this is a good way to teach children about descriptive words and have them write a paragraph describing what they saw.”

Lindsay: “The Private Eye process would help students show their creative side and stimulate inquiry about how things look from a different perspective.”

Susan: “I loved it! It’s such a neat way to discover things around you and, knowing kids, they would carry [the loupe] around everywhere and look at things. I really liked using the process for ideas for poems. I’m sure it would spark many questions in science, reading, and otherwise.”

Jeanine: “It can be used for anything. It gets students interested and lets them see things are not always how they appear—there is always much more.”

Chris: “I think it could be used in a positive way for poetry along with a majority of the topics covered in the classroom. It’s a great way to get students involved.”

These aspiring teachers were asked if they would consider advocating for a class set of loupes for their school. All responses are positive—here is a sampling:

Barb: “Yes, the loupes would be good to use in all subjects.”

Deanna: “Yes, I think it would be fun for the students to go outside and observe nature with it.”

Samantha: “Yes, just because I had so much fun looking through the loupe, I want my kids to experience that as well. It is also easier to teach and manage than a microscope is.”

Susan: “Yes, I think these would be a wonderful asset to a classroom.”

Finally, students were asked for other comments, (including thanking The Private Eye Project for the loupes). Responses include the following:

Chris: “Thanks for the fun and interesting experience with the loupe. It gives me ideas for my future teaching activities.”

Deanna: “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to see how neat these are. I want my students to have the same experience I did.”

Samantha: “Thank you so much! This gave me great ideas for my classroom. I appreciate the opportunity you gave our classroom!”

Later in the semester the students who experienced the loupes in the Language Arts class used them with the children they tutored as a part of their Remedial Reading course. I was pleased to see them incorporate their use in the learning experiences they planned for their tutees. This indicates to me that the students see how the loupes can encourage inquiry, and that they truly want to use the loupes in their own teaching.

I sincerely hope that making this experience available to the Language Arts students at William Penn University demonstrates to The Private Eye Project that their investment is highly valued and well worth the time and effort expended. Thank you so much for the wonderful gift of exploration and inquiry. Your interest in the students’ preparation as educators is sincerely appreciated.

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Post Rock Home Educators
LaCrosse, KS

I first learned of the Private Eye concept of "loupe-looking + analogy" while browsing through an educational supply catalog. Intrigued, I ordered the book and a loupe for myself. I immediately saw great potential! As a member of the Post Rock Home Educators, a group of homeschooling families in Western Kansas, I offered a class using the Private Eye.Not sure of what to expect or how receptive the students would actually be to the idea, I decided to try something which I was sure would get their attention. At our first session I passed out loupes to the parents and offered them several natural objects to examine, instructing them to share what they saw. Their enthusiasm was certainly contagious as within moments the kids started saying such things as, "Let me see!", "Hey, what about us!", "Don't we get to look!". Well, I think you get the picture. They were hooked!

After showing the younger students (K-3) how to focus by demonstrating with a slide projector, I continued the session with the older students (gr. 4-8) , while another parent worked with the younger ones. We began the session by "loupe-looking" at the bottom of a pinecone. Each student had their own loupe and specimen. The following are the observations of the ten students as recorded by another parent :

spine of an alligator lion shell of snapping turtle
lots of rocks      points of armor mountains
chunks of ice Martian landscape volcanoes
stingrays pencil ends chocolate kiss cookies
tips of rockets  people surfing elephant trunk
Star Wars creature

At this point we divided the group in half. One group chose to focus on the idea of the spine of an alligator. The other group focused their thoughts on the idea of a landscape. At the end of the allotted time, each group presented a final poem and several individual sketches.


Alligator eyeballs
overlapping scales,
wide open mouth, hanging tongue
gashing, gnashing teeth.
Pattern of skin
Stretched out feet
spikes of tail, projecting scales.
Thrashing, swinging tail
in the water, circling.

(written by Kelsey Mitchell,
Terry Mills, Mitzi Holland,
Sylvie Horn, and Steven Cornwell)


 dot is like a crater
stem is like the smoke of a volcano
white like the snowcaps
like a mountain with trees
up and down like hills and valleys
cluster of mountains
pointy like a sand castle
the ground with mushrooms
like a burned forest
looks like waves
looks like grassblades
Looks like rivers running down the mountain
ash prints of volcano
looks like stone
geometric like a pyramid
like broken icebergs

(written by Krystal Holland,
Katie Edwards, Seth Urban,
Melanie Rogers, Mark Horn,
and Nick Mitchell)

I was delighted with the results and the kids were very excited to share their poems with the entire group. Several parents commented on how easily their children took to thinking and writing creatively. This is usually an area of much struggle for them. We are all looking forward to our next Private Eye session.




Biology, Honors Biology, and IB HL Biology
Tates Creek High School
An International Baccalaureate SchooL
Lexington, KY 40517
(859) 381-3620

"I found these cool succulent flowers (from a species of Echeveria) that are around 2cm in length (small!). I typically use larger flowers, but I thought it would be cool to use the loupes to peer into this little "flower world." The kids quickly realized they could use their phones, put the loupe up the camera, and take a pretty awesome photo. The student whose photo I'm attaching figured out how to label hers (in addition to the drawing I made them do)."

See Liz's "Seven Private Tips for Biology Teachers" here.




College of Applied Sciences, Department of Biology
Northeast Louisiana University, LA

Last fall I used The Private Eye in a Math and Science Workshop for Girl Scouts at Northeast Louisiana University. I wanted to expose 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to the fascinating world of biology in a short period of time (45 minutes) using loupes to look at a wide variety of items: blue jay feathers, mussel shells, foliose lichens, shelf fungi, invertebrate fossils, dried daisies, sweet gum balls, cockleburs and cricket legs to name only a few. To assist me I trained 8 biology graduate students in The Private Eye method in a 2-hr. hands-on workshop. They enjoyed looking and creating with loupes. I modeled The Private Eye teaching strategy that I wanted them to use with the younger students.

The objective of both workshops was to look at many items and choose one that was especially interesting. The next step was to create a list of analogies [using The Private Eye approach: "What else does it remind me of? What else does it look like?]. Then students were instructed to scatter their analogies [in the form of metaphors and similes] and words on a piece of paper and web or connect them in a random fashion. Webbing can reveal new and unique connections. Next they made a rough draft of a short poem, picture, cartoon, short essay, or advertisement inspired by the webs. They created a final product on a bookmark-sized piece of cardstock (these are free leftovers from print shops). We laminated the bookmark, punched a hole, and hung it on a ribbon. Each girl wore their creation to the next session of the workshop and had a unique, visible reminder of what they experienced that day. Approximately 90% ranked this session as their favorite. The graduate students want to help facilitate other workshops. This is just one of the ways I've shared The Private Eye.



St. Joseph's College of Maine
Standish, ME

How exciting to call the Private Eye number and have you answer. I am still on Cloud 9. My students loved the whole story. We discussed your program, I handed everyone a copy of page 3 to 9 and told them to read it many times. I explained our phone call and handed them a page of notes I took during our conversation. Most had a loupe. I had extras to lend- nothing was going to stop us. I gave everyone a plastic bag for loupe looking materials to bring back to the classroom. It was a gorgeous day as we walked across White's Bridge Road to the farm that has just been given to the college. Jenn Caron had her digital camera charged and took photos.

Our public relations and outreach program is now housed in the early farm house. Several of the staff expressed interest in what the kids were working on so we went in to meet everyone.

Each student adopted a square foot (or more) of land to watch. March 20 was the first day of spring. There was still ice over parts of the ponds. Everyone took field notes and collected specimens. No one wanted to leave. We went back to class and read the poems my 6,7, and 8th grade students had done using a dead leaf. My students could not believe middle-schoolers had written so well.

We examined acorn hats and came up with a long list. Many of these students will be traveling to University of Maine, Orono, tomorrow for an educational conference. I also will be teaching section B of this same course tomorrow so I will have the chance to try this all again. The weather will be less sunny and it may rain...we may have to stay inside, but we'll see.

The students suggested we do a Class website around The Private Eye. It will be fascinating to see how many students will get hooked and continue the relationship with their land after the semester. Most live close enough to revisit the spot through the summer and they will be returning in the fall, so we will see.

We need to come up with a Field Study Kit. I have thought of tongue blades with each student's name printed in permanent marker to mark their spot. Will everyone really remember just where they were? Plastic bags or a box for samples. Camera. Sketch book and pencils. Something to protect against deer ticks. Something to sit on. Our ground is still wet. I want my students to come up with a form elementary students can fill in for their studies.

Much much more later and thanks again for your support.


Gran Marais, MN

"I just discovered The Private Eye. I had attended an Audubon workshop and that led me to search the web for more outdoor engaging materials. I happened upon The Private Eye. I ordered the materials, read the manual over the weekend, and OMG. I’ve always been so paranoid about drawing. All I could do was stick figures. I read the TPE directions: Loupe-Look. Loupe-Draw… even then I felt a panic attack. Where to start? And I remembered it said, “Draw a frame” … so I started with a square frame… but then remembered the book said you could also use a circle frame… a circle might be easier.

I picked a tiny, fuzzy weed and started with the stem and I just kept going and all of a sudden I had a drawing! All weekend, I was loupe-exploring. I even got my husband involved. I was so pleased by my drawing I ended up sharing it with my co-workers at a reading workshop on Monday. It was a kind of show-and-tell of what was possible with this [Private Eye] Project. I teach science five times a week to third and fourth graders. The Private Eye blends in beautifully. Now I’m sharing The Private Eye with the K-2 teachers as well. I’m so excited about this!"


"Connecting Children with Nature: 
Using The Private Eye at Summer Camp
Wildlife Biologist and Environmental Education Specialist
U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Jackson, MS

Summer camps are one way to connect children with nature.  Terri Jacobson with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a partnership with Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi to start a Nature Detectives Camp in 2009.  The day camp uses The Private Eye project as a foundation for hands-on, interactive, inquiry-based learning.  The campers use jeweler’s loupes to examine nature up close while taking notes and drawing in their journals

At each camp, the campers start their own Private Eye nature museum collections.  One year, the campers drew their own cartoons based on Private Eye analogies.  Another year, we created mini-habitats for pillbugs inside magnifying boxes.  We also played analogy bingo for door prizes.  Swayze McDearman, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service teen volunteer helps with the camp.  Swayze said “the two highlights of camp are worm day and insect day.  The campers get really excited interacting with the wiggling worms or when they catch their first angry bee, buzzing in a net.”

Jennifer Tompkins of Millsaps College is pleased to host Nature Detectives camp and says “the College is excited about the partnership with the Service and is thrilled with the opportunity of connecting children to nature.”  Jennifer’s daughter even attended the Nature Detectives camp where she made exciting discoveries with her Private Eye’s jeweler’s loupe and enjoyed all the nature journaling activities.  For information on the Nature Detectives Camp, send an email to


photos and report courtesy of Terri Jacobson



CARRIE ANDERSON - "The Private Eye and Grassland Management"
"Young Naturalists at the Big Sky Institute"

Tofte Ranger District
Superior National Forest, MT

Thank you for allowing me to make copies of a few pages of your "Private Eye" publication to distribute to about 20 National Grassland Managers at the Grassland Managers Conference in May of 1998. In addition, the loupes were featured during the field trip portion of the conference. Participants (grassland managers and Forest Service administrators from the national office) got down on their bellies to explore the land they manage up close. They then used that experience to make a drawing and to write poetry. It was risky business with the high bureaucrats, but they LOVED it! They kept the loupes (which hopefully will find their way to educators in their respective offices), and listed the activity as one of their favorites of the conference. Which is all a long way of saying "thank you" to you and your efforts to promote these incredible tools!

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Special Projects Coordinator
Big Sky Institute
Bozeman, MT

In Katie Alvin's Young Naturalist class, 3rd - 5th graders use their Private Eye loupes to learn the power of observation and how to experience and understand creatures in their natural setting. They record their discoveries in their Private Eye notebooks.

Photos credited to Katie Alvin, Big Sky Institute,



University of Nevada
College of Education

After teaching for thirty plus years I found The Private Eye Program to be of the quality and novelty we used to get when new programs like Project WET, WILD and others would first be available to teachers and students.

I was first taken by opening the book to a lesson I have been doing for years as a biology teacher. I take my students to the river and present a Georgia O
'Keefe lesson to teach observation and data collection lessons. The loupe addition takes the idea to a wonderful student focus hand lenses cannot do. It's a wonderfully simple and straight forward lesson book for all levels of science and literacy. What a great tool for our district.

Once again we are mandated to a greater commitment for writing across the curriculum. I didn't wait to get the book or equipment to start teaching with the verbal
cues we learned during the workshop. I used The Private Eye phrase "what else.." while students used microscopes. The results were far better than any other class like that I have done in the past. The technique gave the students new and productive roles. My request for feedback had so much more meaning and the results are wonderful. Instead of an abstract drawing of a micro-critter I now get better art, and more importantly, better sentences. Not just a list of words but a constructed description from an observation list that makes the connection of form and function.

I look forward to using this when I get back into the classroom. I have just finished with my last mentorship of the year. We have a shortage of master teachers here. I have been asked to return to the classroom with an intern to team teach until the intern can take the position as a full time teacher. I am headed to the Lassen National Forest to work with the recreation section. You can be sure I will be at many summer visitor areas with my books and lenses in hand to give tourists a new view of the forest. Thank you all for the shift in how I do what I love. You make teaching better and learning possible. I would like to be more involved with what you do. I will search websites and make my way to more workshops and trainings for The Private Eye.



KATHRYN BREWER - "Making Activities Thrilling with The Private Eye"
PRISCILLA LOGAN - "Loupes and Classroom Management"
SUSAN WING - "Art and The Private Eye"
JANET KAHN - "Fine Arts and The Private Eye"

Director of Educational Programs
Earth's Birthday Project

I recently visited a first-grade classroom where students were looking at ladybugs.  Their Private Eye loupes made this activity thrilling and magnitudes more educational than it might have been otherwise.   Now that science is returning to elementary schools, more teachers have the opportunity to make close observation one of their everyday activities.   Earth's Birthday Project is committed to helping you make this happen!"

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New Mexico Outstanding Environmental Educator of the Year Award

I have been using the Private Eye loupes for about the last ten years. Five years in the classroom and now five years in outdoor classroom teacher training in various schools and districts here in New Mexico. I am a scientist as I majored in Bacteriology and Chemistry and I know good tools. They are the greatest!In the classroom I was a Title One Reading Specialist for 25 years improving student comprehension, vocabulary and thinking skills. The loupes were used outdoors as observing tools and then as the impetus for writing and learning vocabulary words to describe what they saw as well as what they saw reminded them of. They were like "study carrels" in their ability to give students their private space to learn.

In the five years since I retired I have used the loupes in training teachers about how to use the outdoors to improve language arts, science and math skills. Classroom management is one of the stumbling blocks for many teachers as they take their classes outside. One of the reasons for that difficulty is that student thinking skills soar up to the highest thinking skills such as synthesis, analogies, etc. Since students are thinking on that higher individual level, that can make group work more challenging. One of the techniques to handle this wonderful dilemma is to use tools that let students stay at those higher thinking levels while following dictates of the group. The Private Eye loupe allows students to do just that.

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Albuquerque, NM

I am an art teacher in New Mexico. I was introduced to the The Private Eye process three years ago in an architecture workshop. Since then I have used it in my classroom (with loupes) with wildly successful results. Students recently finished up two weeks of observing, writing and drawing about insects and plants. Fellow art teachers have seen the results and are taking the lesson into their classrooms as well. I have been spreading the news of your program to the University of New Mexico's anthropology department. I simply wanted to send kudos for your excellent program. I service approximately 800 elementary school children, K-5. They created nature journals, one for insects one for plants.....they will never perceive either the same way. Thank you again.Student exploring a june bug with a Private Eye Jeweler's Loupe

Student exploring a june bug with a Private Eye jeweler's loupe.

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Director, Fine Arts Program
Albuquerque Public Schools
Albuquerque, NM

I am the director of the Fine Arts program for the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS). We have 70 elementary art and music teachers in our district of 42,000 elementary students (83 elementary schools). Each summer we do a workshop for elementary classroom teachers on arts integration. [The workshop] is presented by art & music teachers in our program. We purchased one loupe for each of the 70 workshop participants (2 sessions of 35 teachers each) - and one for each of our presenters because they're pretty cool to have!The [Private Eye] lesson where we will use [the loupes] has to do with observation of the world around you through art. We use a variety of fruits and vegetables and observe them [through the loupes] whole, and then cut in progressively smaller sections. Students draw their 'subject' from a variety of perspectives and use the loupes to get a progressively more detailed look at what their 'subject' looks like up close at the various stages of being cut. We will be using oil pastels to do some final renderings.

APS, like many school districts, has a Foundation that can raise money for discretionary projects in schools and with district programs such as ours. In our case, a trust was set up for use by our program to enhance what we do in schools. We use a portion of our funds at the Foundation to pay for the supplies we use for this workshop - rather than paying for it out of operational funds.



DEBBIE GOLDBECK - "Principals Executive Program"
LIZ BAIRD - "UTOTES: Outdoor Classrooms and The Private Eye"
LIZ BAIRD - "More Sharing with Bolivian Educators"

Assistant Director
Principals' Executive Program
University of North Carolina, NC

The Principals' Executive Program, established by the North Carolina General Assembly, is a group of professional-level management courses for public school principals, superintendents, and assistant principals; its ultimate objective is the significant improvement of students' performance.

Participants in recent programs have discovered the joys of The Private Eye, finding it an engaging and invigorating approach to thinking skills, creativity and scientific literacy. After one such session, assistant principal Hazel Yarbrough invited me to do a longer workshop for her teachers at Benson Middle School. After that workshop, Hazel wrote the following letter:

Benson Middle School Looks at the World a Little Bit Differently These Days

Benson Middle School teachers in Benson, North Carolina are eager to begin to help their students learn to look at the world with a different perspective as they start to use their new teaching tool: The Private Eye Kit. Assistant Principal Hazel Yarbrough met Debbie Goldbeck last year at the Principals' Executive Program in Chapel Hill where Debbie demonstrated the use of the Private Eye loupes, and she was eager to have her teachers use this tool in her school. On February 6, Debbie spent the afternoon with the Benson teachers demonstrating the ways the Private Eye loupes and process can be used in a variety of classrooms...not just the science classes. While the workshop expenses and Private Eye Kit were purchased with Eisenhower funds, all the teachers benefited from this training session.

A language arts teacher is ready to use the loupes in her writing classes to help her students prepare for the state writing test. She said, "This is perfect for teaching descriptive writing!" The visual arts teacher responded, "It will add a new dimension to my instruction of the photo-magnification process. I look forward to using the loupes and the questioning strategy." Other teachers added, "Use of the loupes and questions will enhance the observation skills of my students", "I think the materials are excellent for expanding creative thinking skills", and "this instructional program will teach students to look for the good, positive, and interesting aspects in all people, things, pieces, and situations all of the time." Mrs. Yarbrough was thrilled to find a workshop that met the needs of all her teachers and helped them see ways to expand teaching higher level thinking skills in their classes.

I want to share a comment similar to those in Hazel's letter, one made by the social studies teacher. He said ... that if students looked at objects using the loupe [with the questions] and began to see them in a different perspective, this skill would carry over to life in general...looking at people and situations in a different way.

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UTOTES Program
North Carolina State Museum of Natural History

The Private Eye at Summer Field Institute: In June, twenty-four educators from across North Carolina and two educators from Bolivia, South America, gathered for a week long Summer Field Institute at Blue Jay Point County Park in Wake County, North Carolina. Each of the North Carolina educators represented a school which had been a part of the "Using The Outdoors to Teach Experiential Science" (UTOTES) program led by The North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences and funded by the National Science Foundation. UTOTES is a teacher education program designed to improve elementary science instruction by improving school grounds for hands-on-learning. Educators learn to enhance their school grounds for wildlife and use these habitats to teach all subjects. The Summer Field Institute provides a lead teacher from each school the opportunity to develop strong leadership skills and to learn more about school grounds in North Carolina. We have had educators from Bolivia join us as a result of the Kellogg Fellows program.

The initial outdoor activity had each team of six teachers explore the grounds of the lodge, find interesting natural history items, and flag them with surveyor's tape. After marking their interesting finds, the teams shared what they found interesting with the other teachers. Each team then chose one item to investigate more fully. We called these unique natural history items "Natural History Mysteries". Each participant was given a Private Eye loupe to examine the team's "Natural History Mystery". Everyone was asked to observe the mystery item and to loupe sketch it in his or her journal. After sketching, they used The Private Eye questions to create list of ten analogies. From these observations they went into the field guides to see if they could figure out their "Natural History Mystery".

Each team then shared interesting information they learned about their items. All of the participants agreed that spending time observing and sketching their mystery item made it easier to identify later. They enjoyed using the analogies as they tried to explain the way their mystery item fit into the system. For example, the flower of the wild ginger plant was described as a "little vase". The team guessed that the vase shape would help lure small insects into the flower.

We used the loupes throughout the rest of the week in many ways: when we traveled to the Botanical Garden we looked at carnivorous plants and seeds; paddled into a local lake and louped the aquatic environment; sampled in a mini-pond and identified aquatic invertebrates; and explored a butterfly garden and examined caterpillars. The field sketches created using loupes were outstanding. Many participants have purchased class loupe sets and are reporting great success with student use. The principal at Fuquay-Varina Elementary School commented that the analogies written by her students using The Private Eye were "terrific examples of the value of learning which combines school grounds and language arts." We look forward to finding new ways to combine the unique perspective generated by The Private Eye with our commitment to helping the public gain an appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

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UTOTES Program
North Carolina State Museum of Natural History

In June, twenty-four educators from across North Carolina and two teachers from Bolivia joined the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences for a week long Summer Field Institute. As part of the experience every participant was given a Private Eye [loupe]. They used these to observe everything from flower parts, to pond life and worm segments.

The Bolivian teachers participated because North Carolina is connected to Cochabamba, Bolivia through the Partners of the Americas organization. This workshop provides an opportunity for two teachers from Cochabamba to learn more about environmental education and take this information back to their school systems in Bolivia. The Summer Field Institute provides numerous field experiences for teachers including canoeing, visiting other school grounds and learning about plant propagation at the Botanical Garden.

The teachers keep journals recording their experiences. One of the activities the teachers did was adapted from a journaling suggestion from Bill Hammond. The teachers divided their journal page into three sections. The first section was for Observations, the second for Insights and the third for Identification. In the Observation section the teachers used the Private Eye to carefully observe a wildflower in its natural setting. They were challenged to draw in such detail that someone else would know exactly which flower they were looking at. After about 3 minutes of drawing, the teachers moved on to the Insights section of their journal. In this section the teachers recorded their feelings about the experience and answered the question of "What does it look like?" and "What else does it look like?". The last section of the journal was for Identification. Here the teachers used field guides to find out more about their plant, including the name, the scientific name and any fun information about their plant. The teachers found the progression from observation to insights to identification a good way to learn about the plant. They liked having the initial focus be on observing the plant instead of looking immediately into the field guides. They also found that making close observations made the identification easier.

At the end of the workshop the teachers from North Carolina wanted send something back with the Bolivian educators. After discussing all of the possibilities they decided that a classroom set of Private Eyes [loupes] would be the perfect thing to send to Bolivia. The Private Eyes [loupes] would translate easily to any classroom and could be used by every student.

The Museum continued to introduce other educators to the Private Eye during their summer workshops including programs at the coast and in Belize, Central America.



Department of Chemistry, Muskingum College
New Concord, OH

Teaching teachers how to teach science using a hands-on approach reminds me of Field of Dreams. If you build it they will come, or in terms of science teaching, if you give the teachers the experience of doing science in an active way, they will use it in their own classrooms.

As a scientist and a teacher of future science teachers, I want these future teachers and their students to stretch their minds, discover fascinating things, feel the joy, beauty, and discovery of science, and realize that all sorts of talents go into being a scientist. “The Private Eye” provides one of the windows to this type of an experience.

I make sure all my teachers, pre-service and already practicing, experience the world through “The Private Eye” because the process provides a mix of techniques and skills that cross math, science, art, writing, and whatever else one might want to include.

First of all, “The Private Eye” opens the world of wonder - of seeing the unseen, seeing the missed or ignored, seeing the obvious in a new way. If the teachers can experience that then they will want their students to experience it also. The loupes also add a visual dimension to the material, encourage higher order thinking skills when combined with The Private Eye questions, and draw in students that might usually say science was not for them. “The Private Eye” helps students connect with courses and material that these students dislike as a rule. The process offers opportunities to extend material for Talented and Gifted and allow other Special Needs groups to experience science.

The following selection of comments from some future teachers indicate how they envision using The Private Eye in their classrooms:

“I really thought The Private Eye was great to use. It gives a very different perspective on everyday items. I never knew the pistil of a day lily looked like a slipper. I know if given the opportunity I would love to incorporate The Private Eye in my class. I know it would open my students’ eyes and minds to different perspectives of everyday things.”

“The Private Eye activity was very interesting to me. Growing up we have never had activities like this. Using the Private Eye can be done in various ways for all age levels and abilities. It can allow students to look at things that interest them, not just 'certain' things. Many subjects can be incorporated from Language Arts, Math , and of course Science. Finally, if an adult was amused and found it fun and interesting, what do you think a child will do?”

“The Private Eye is a really cool way to explore parts of various objects. When viewing my own hand I was fascinated with the brainstorming ideas I was experiencing. I would like to use the Private Eye activities in my classroom. Having children brainstorm about what they are seeing magnified creates many great exercises and lessons.”

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6th Grade Case Manager
Cache Public Schools, Cache, OK

My first introduction to the materials was from being a homeschool mother of my gifted son, Dylan, then, at age 10. That would have been during the 2002 school year.   I had removed Dylan out of the public school setting and was using an assortment of academic publications, media and computer programs.  However, I wanted  something more tangible, hands-0n for Science and inquiry.  I stumbled upon The Private Eye, fascinated at how it centered around analogies and critical thinking skills.  To have a program enveloped around writing, critical thinking and natural Science was just the ticket for my son and  me. 
We both loved exploring the great outdoors, especially on field trips to  The Land Between The Lakes and our own Tennessee backyard.  We would venture off through wooded trails louping various deciduous tree leaves, acorns, tree bark, and local vegetation.  Really, we louped as many things that would present themselves.  I say, "we," because as a home-school mom, I was involved with my son in his educational experiences.  I loved hearing him express what he was seeing up close and personal with the loupes.  The ability to magnify the everyday items we saw at a glance became more real and alive!
My son has long past middle school as now he is in his last year of college at the University of Oklahoma. He has excelled in academic studies.  His verbal abilities and analytical thinking skills shine through in his writing.  I, on the otherhand,  returned to Cache  Public Schools in  Cache, Oklahoma  as a Special education teacher where I've been working with students in Reading for grades 6-8 for the past eight years.
What brought me back to look at The Private Eye materials is that I had been given a new additional assignment to teach Writing Language Arts (ELA) for grade 6.  This prompted me to look for avenues in which young students would be engaged in writing.  I wanted something that I believe would engage the students in the assignment; something they could personally own and experience for themselves.  I remembered how enthusiastic my own son had been at exploring the natural objects, louping them, discussing their value and perspective through the use of analogies. 
With an opportunity to apply for a grant, I took to writing my proposal for The Private Eye "World-In-A-Bag" kit and Magicscope.  I explained how the program is aligned to Common Core, a big proponent and focus in today's public schools.  After submitting the grant, a few weeks later, I learned I had won the monies to secure the needed items for my Special Education English/Language Arts classes! 
I can hardly wait to get started with the loupes and materials so that my students can go on their own investigative inquiries and writing opportunities!  I am going to utilize The Private Eye materials in our writng projects with emphasis on figurative language and poetry writing.  Of course, I hope that will only be the initiation to a great many other explorations we will do with The Private Eye loupes.

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DONNA RAINBOTH - "Jeweler's Loupes as Field Microscopes"
GINERVRA RALPH - "Schools Projects: Specialized Training Program"
PAULA WILKES - "Leveling the Playing Field"
BETTE KASOW - "The Private Eye and Writer's Workshop"

PEERS Program
Eastern Oregon State College, OR

Jeweler's Loupes as Field Microscopes: Four or 5 years ago my good friend and teaching colleague, Sharon Freeman, came home from a science conference exclaiming about the outstanding session she had attended and the great tool participants had been given at the end of the session. The session she attended was the Private Eye and the tool was a simple jeweler's loupe.

I work in Natural Resources education and facilitate several workshops each year. Every since Sharon brought that jeweler's loupe home it has become a standard tool at most of my workshops. Teachers often leave our workshops with a loupe in hand. We use the loupes primarily for viewing spiders, insects and aquatic macroinvertebrates and in using them we have made a few germane discoveries (about the loupes, not the bugs).

The Private Eye's loupes fit perfectly into film canisters. You can place the specimen you want to view (spider, ant, bug) into the canister and use the loupe as a top and as a magnifying viewer. The loupe can be slid up and down in the canister which allows you to change the focal length and consequently the focus. We use the clear or opaque canisters. The canisters are free and the loupes cost $2.30. So for less than $75 you can have a field microscope for every student in your class.

The fact that water does not harm the loupes makes them ideal for aquatic studies also. We capture aquatic macroinvertebrates such as mayfly and stonefly larva, put them into a petri dish with a small amount of water, and put the loupe right on top of the specimen. This way the critter can't move out of sight and students get a magnified view of it.

I love using the jeweler's loupes and I am pleased to be able to share our discoveries with other teachers.

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Schools Projects: Specialized Training Program
Department of Education
University of Oregon, OR

Louisiana Gumbo: from Gottschalk to Zydeco was the theme of last August's Oregon Festival of American Music a week long inquiry into the cultural and historical context of the music of SW Louisiana. Concurrent with the more than 20 concerts and public presentations, educators participating in the Festival's Teacher Partners workshop investigated the question What Makes a Cajun Cajun? The 5-day workshop was sponsored in part by the Oregon Arts Commission.

The workshop's second day, entitled "A Closer Look at Louisiana", first featured a presentation by the Festival's artist-in-residence from Lafayette, Elemore Morgan Jr., and then a wonderful, all-too-short, introduction of The Private Eye with 5 middle school students instructing the teacher participants. With background music by the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, we took a "closer look" at typical Louisiana flora and fauna, including shrimp, okra, oyster shells, sweet gum balls, sugar cane, rice, chili peppers, honeysuckle, and sliced corn on the cob, (unfortunately the crawfish harvest failed that week or we would have examined them too).

It was a great opportunity to discuss many aspects of Louisiana's agriculture, food, and climate, as well as having adults and youngsters exploring through The Private Eye together.

Gilham Elementary
Eugene, OR

One of the things I most appreciate about the Private Eye loupe activities is that they level the playing field for students. As you look at these drawings, you are not able to tell which students are "special ed" and which are "talented and gifted."


I am going to be teaching a class on Oregon's "teacher inservice day" in October on Emotional Intelligence. I am going to present the Private Eye loupe as a tool that can get kids to take time to stop and really look. I believe that using the Private Eye can help students who are highly impulsive to slow down and look in a way they may not have looked in the past. When we stop and look at things in a new way through the loupe, we learn to really pay attention to life around least that's what has happened to me.

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4th Grade Teacher
Eugene, OR

We've been loupe-looking, drawing, writing analogies, and using those analogies to extend the writing. What fun! The room is very quiet during the first 15 - 20 minutes of Writers' Workshop as the kids are absorbed by the items they are loupe-looking.Then a hum develops as they share: "Look at this!" "Read what I wrote!" "Let me read your analogies." Students who usually struggle with writing are delighted with their pieces. They are eager to read their work during our writing shares and their work is enthusiastically appreciated by their peers.

We are studying folktales and one of the things we're looking for is figurative language (specifically simile, metaphor, idiom and personification). Recently, we began to further explore the use of figurative language in our loupe-writing. It's a great way to extend the study from reading to writing.



MARK WAGGONER - "Texas Science Teacher’s Conference 2006"
JAMIE LONG - "The Private Eye and the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science Education"
TEXAS EDUCATORS - "What Texas Educators Say About The Private Eye"
LAURIE PICKEEP - "Schoolwide Literay Magazine"

Washington/Jackson Elementary Magnet
Wichita Falls, TX
Program Chair Texas Science Teacher’s Conference 2006

My presentation this past week of The Private Eye went great.  This is the best response I've had.  I was able to walk them through the whole process.  Usually I have teachers spend more time just visiting.  This time they were thoroughly involved and shared many ideas.  Many noted they would love to have class sets.  Our science resource center was interested in building a kit using the loupes and ideas.  I really tried to promote the book.  The more I read it, the more excited I become.  This has been such a rewarding experience.  The best part was that the Superintendent of schools walked through and commented on the program.  He wants me to present to around 100 language arts teachers on November 28th.  It went over so well with the science teachers.  I know the language arts teachers will enjoy it as well.

Language Arts/Dyslexia Specialist
Region VII Education Service Center
Kilgore, TX

I would like to share my experience with The Private Eye Project with you as I feel this program opened not only my eyes, but my mind, heart and soul to a deeper understanding of the learning process students must go through to connect with what we teach

.As a middle school reading and science teacher at Slocum ISD in Elkhart, Texas, I searched for ways to get my students to connect literature, writing and science with real world situations. From new reports, to field studies and environmental research I tried to make learning a fun, life-long skill for my students.

I became a member of the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science Education which is a “state wide network of K-16 teachers across the state.” [from]. I eventually became a Science Teacher Mentor (STM) within the Collaborative which meant that I had to mentor at least five teachers and help them find ways to improve their students’ success in science. I learned so much from working with so many teachers. We truly mentored each other and found many successful tools to motivate our students. As a member of the Science Teachers Association of Texas, I attended The Private Eye workshop at the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST) in November, 2004. I was literally moved to tears as Kerry shared the success stories of students who would not/could not write well enough for success in the classroom until they used the loupes to study something a little closer. I knew I had to get my hands – my students’ hands – on these loupes!

I personally bought a set for my classroom. I introduced my students to the process and the results were amazing. The kids wanted to keep their work and unfortunately I did not make copies before returning the products to the students. However, I left the loupes on my desk and students would ask to use them to look at things they brought from home or found on the campus grounds at various times throughout the year.

As a part of my membership in the Texas Regional Collaborative, I was required to present two workshops over activities or lessons that had been successful in my classroom at a Mini-CAST in February, 2005. I immediately thought of The Private Eye! The teachers were as excited as I was about the program and could not wait to use it with their students! I knew I would want to present this again! There are two things I love about being an educator – 1) seeing the students’ faces light up when they make that real-world connection, and 2) seeing that same reaction in the faces of teachers when they know they have something that will reach those kids who need something special to hook them on learning!In May of 2005, I was offered a dream job as a Middle School Language Arts Specialist for the Region VII Education Service Center. It was very difficult to leave the classroom as I felt that I was abandoning my students whom I loved so dearly! But I knew that this new job would allow me to reach thousands of students as I worked to find programs that integrate language arts with the other core subjects: science, social studies and math. I knew right away that The Private Eye was one tool I could use to show how well integration works to open the minds of all students in every grade level – especially middle school students.

In July, 2005, I presented The Private Eye Project to about 60 teachers at the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science Education Annual Meeting which was held in Austin. I tried to keep my emotions in check as I presented, but I get so excited about the program and no matter how many times I read the poems on the student examples, I get a little choked up. I wish I had a picture of every face in the room as I shared the artwork and the poetry produced by the students at all grade levels. The “oohs and aahs” and gasps for air filled the room with each piece of work shared.

As the teachers shared their own writing about the palms of their hands, the room fell silent in awe. One teacher said, “I didn’t know I could write like that.” Some teachers could not pick their chin off the floor fast enough as they sat in amazement of how the process reached deep inside their souls! Three teachers approached me in tears as they were just amazed that there was hope for so many students who may have otherwise been overlooked. These teachers knew that they had a tool they could take back to the classroom and help students make that connection between writing, art and science.

I stood with tears in my eyes as a veteran teacher thanked me for saying publicly that all students are “gifted” students and it is our job to give them the right tools to discover their own gifts! Another veteran teacher who was just moved to the 5th grade and was told she had to teach Language Arts and Science was overwhelmed by the idea that she had to find a way to teach all those objectives. She knew that the things she learned in that workshop would help her integrate so many of the objectives and she was excited about starting the new year.

I am very excited to see the success of these teachers and their students. I can’t wait to share The Private Eye again and again. It is a marvelous process that helps students reach higher levels of critical thinking as they analyze the world they live in!Thank you David and Kerry for allowing me to share this tool and process with so many GIFTED people!

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“AWESOME! The best presentation at CAST this year [2004]. Every teacher in the room thoroughly enjoyed the science lesson. I felt so inspired by your program….”
Michelle Henry, Teacher, Mesquite ISD, TX

“The thinking behind the Private Eye is marvelous. It's a powerful tool for teachers of most disciplines. The processes and strategies employed are as powerful for the English Language Learner (ELL) and the special needs student as they are for the gifted and talented student.”
JoAnn Montes McDonald, Project Director, South Texas Rural Systemic Initiative Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, TX

“Principals at the various schools said The Private Eye made more impact on their students and teachers than anything else.”
Dee Goldberg, Science Resource Coordinator, Spring Branch ISD, Houston, TX

“I know you hear it, but it bears repeating...the program works wonders! I presented the “quickie” version to our district teachers of the gifted and talented K-5, bringing some samples from my past experiences. They were so excited to go back and try the program.. …. Even today, as I did a designer bug lesson, the excitement from the students was overwhelming. Thanks, thanks, thanks!”
Karen Hardy, Teacher, Humble ISD, Humble, TX

“I attended your workshop at the CAST conference in Corpus Christi last week and I was truly amazed by the experience I had with the jeweler’s loupes. I bought your book in the exhibit hall and I have shared the loupes with my students. THEY LOVE THEM!!”
Jamie Long, Language Arts/Dyslexia Specialist, ESC Region 7, Kilgore, TX

“I just got home from CAST in Houston - I couldn't stop talking about the workshop. I want my kids to experience this - open their eyes. Thanks for the great presentation!!!”
Sabra Paul, 7th Grade Science Teacher, Sugarland, TX

“The Private Eye is a great researched-based resource for inquiry-based instruction, writing integration with science, and creative sparkler! It's such a profound concept made simple.”
Becky Wivagg, Science Resource Specialist, ESC Region 12, Waco, TX

“Nobody’s as good as David and Kerry. If I could have a million of their workshops it wouldn't be enough. The teachers just ate it up. They just loved it."
Patsy McGee, Science Resource Coordinator, Beaumont ISD, TX

“My teachers were so excited about the workshop and kits. I've never seen something so powerful as The Private Eye!”
Sara Flusche, Lab Facilitator, North Central Texas College, Gainesville, TX

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Director, SPARK
Cultural Arts Exemplary Project
Claremont Immersion School
Arlington, VA

[SPARK grant summary    … “We chose The Private Eye as an inaugural program to introduce our new exemplary project in the cultural arts.”
… The Private Eye is important because it provides a methodology for all teachers and students to embrace within individual classrooms while also providing the opportunity for interdisciplinary study throughout the school.” ]

In August, 2007 we had the wonderful opportunity to have David Melody and Kerry Ruef present an all day workshop about The Private Eye to teachers and staff at Claremont Immersion School in Arlington, VA.  Teachers naturally have a curriculum in place and The Private Eye allows for the teacher to work with students to look closely, (in this instance with a jewelers loupe) to slow down and examine the subject area, to question and as a result to become better thinkers, questioners, and problem solvers. This model embraces important learning practices and it was chosen because all teachers can benefit from the skills set.

While lessons that integrate areas of study and [The Private Eye] program have spanned the grades and disciplines —we are also enthused that teachers throughout the grades have been inspired to utilize The Private Eye for select lessons. Already fifth grade and Art are working together to examine science, poetry and art. They are incorporating the various aspects of The Private Eye methodology. Grade two has been inspired to work with a team that includes technology, science, art, poetry and Private Eye processes.

In December the staff at Claremont had an in service presented by our Exemplary Project in the Arts (SPARK) director, Nancy Libson. The objective of the afternoon was to review The Private Eye process, renew enthusiasm, and address additional aspects of The Private Eye. We chose The Private Eye as an inaugural program to introduce our new exemplary project in the cultural arts. We are developing partnerships with area cultural institutions and our goal is to partner each grade with a cultural institution. The Private Eye is important because it provides a methodology for all teachers and students to embrace within individual classrooms while also providing the opportunity for interdisciplinary study throughout the school.

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GRETCHEN COE - "From My Garden to Ancient Greece"
LIBBY SINCLAIR - "Molly Can't Draw?"
KIM HUGET - "Cancer Prevention Study"
MERIDA SCULLEY-DIXON - "Clear Communication"
LIBBY SINCLAIR - "Money, and Dusty Miller and the Inuit"
JOAN FISET - "Accessing the Imagination"
MONA HEIN - "7th graders and Kindergartners Team Up"
KINDRA ANKNEY - "The Habit of Looking Closely"
UPDATE (15 years later!)
MEGHAN JOHNSON - "Excerpt from a Grant Proposal for a Private Eye Class Kit"
CAROL FLETCHER - "Theorizing with The Private Eye"
SANDRA VANDERVEN - “Substitute Teaching With The Private Eye”
Art Infusion and Gifted Education "

Asa Mercer Middle School,
Seattle Public Schools
Seattle, WA

[Note: Unlike the other field reports in this section, this letter first appeared in The Writing Notebook, January/February 1994, but we wanted to share it in Field Reports. In a moment you'll see for yourself why.]

Revelations come at all times and places, it is said. Yet, I hardly expected such insight while on hands and knees weeding my flower garden. Not long before, I'd attended a Private Eye workshop for our middle school staff. Now a week or so later, I was scrambling around on all fours, jeweler's loupe in place, discovering the flora and fauna of my backyard. The Private Eye questions, "What else does it remind you of?" and "What else does it look like?" played a litany in my consciousness.

My awareness had been altered. Analogies leapt out at me like fleas off a dog. Poets, sports writers, politicians were flooding me with analogies, and I'd only just realized it. Analogies had begun to invade my own writing, stealthily at first, purposefully later.

When I returned to the classroom my students predictably devoured the lessons using loupes. Their drawings and poems shimmered proudly on the bulletin board. But the true breakthrough came on a day when the loupes were snugly resting in their plastic cases. In a discussion of Sounder, my class was thorough in the who, what, where, and when. But I felt they were missing the heart of the book. Unexpectedly, I heard myself say, "What else does it remind you of - you know, in real life?" Slowly hands poked up. What followed was a tapestry of stories about loss - grandparents, parents, siblings, pets, respect. When each story had been told, we sat quietly cloaked in the depth of our own experiences. At last we found the heart of Sounder and it was our own.

That one experience became the springboard for my writing instruction. Every year, as part of the study of ancient Greece, we study and write fables. This year we initially examined fables using the Private Eye questions, "What does this remind you of (in real life)? What student is like the hare and who is like the tortoise? And why do you think they're like that?" Not surprisingly, the quality of the fables exceeded any of previous years. Even more noticeable was the purpose with which they wrote. No more "I don't get it. What are we supposed to write?" The Private Eye provided the catalyst for making the essential, personal connection.

3/4th Grade Multi-age Classroom
Decatur Elementary School
Seattle, WA

Here's my Molly story.

Last year my students did a picture-book project - using The Private Eye. They wrote stories and illustrated their writing. Third grader Molly was very frustrated. Although she had written a piece she was very fond of, she put her head down on her table and said she "just hated the drawing part" because she was "no good at drawing". The whole notion plagued her until she solved it by enlisting a fellow classmate as illustrator to help her finish her book.

A year later fourth grader Molly was working on a research project which involved illustrating a series of postcards. To my surprise I overheard her offering to be her group's illustrator because "I'm pretty good at drawing." My theory about this change in her opinion of herself is that repeated experiences with The Private Eye gave Molly some new ways to think about drawing and gave her increasing confidence in her work over time.What a treat to be a teacher and watch a student make such a change!

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CARET Cancer Prevention Study Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
[copy of a inter-office letter sent to:]
Nancy Hutchison, Ph.D.
Science Education Partnership
Seattle, WA

Dear Dr. Hutchison:

I want to thank you for the loan of the Private Eye materials and for your invaluable advice and suggestions about using the materials. The Private Eye was a success at our retreat. We all enjoyed looking, with amazement and wonder, coming up with analogies, and theorizing, as well as thinking up ways to test our ideas. The next thing you know the CARET study center staff will all be writing grant proposals for research projects!We didn't use dusty miller plants at the retreat. The day I went to the Seattle Garden Center in the market the dusty millers were looking a little pathetic, so I got another furry-leafed plant, Plectranthus argentea. P. argentea worked well. It was surprising how many analogies we all came up with. This plant was particularly fascinating in that the tiny, brownish spots you could see spread al over the top and bottom of the leaves when viewing them with loupes turned out to be, when viewed through the dissecting microscope, translucent, red globules. They reminded me of ornaments on a Christmas tree. We wanted to dissect some of them from the leaf we were examining, but were unable, for lack of dissecting tools. At any rate, our observations led to a discussion of what their function might be and how we could test our hypotheses.We unfortunately ran out of time before we could do any drawing--a real disappointment. Despite that, doing The Private Eye was fun and pretty amazing. Highly recommended--and it ain't just kidstuff!  Again, thank you for all your help.

Whidbey Island, WA

It is not difficult to get children to think creatively. The difficulty lies in getting those creative thoughts organized so that they make sense to anyone other than the child. I have long since ceased to try and guess at the meaning of the various blobs of paint on the page that my five year old son brings me. However, if I ask him what it means, I will be taken on a fantastical voyage of witches being incinerated by erupting volcanoes and mounds of treasure under the volcano that he and his father are going to dig up, but they have to watch out for the sword wielding dwarves that live in the suitcase... In an effort to encourage clear communication (without the extensive explanations), I have tried working with Edward de Bono's thinking exercises (different colored hats for different thought processes), however, both the children and myself found these to be rather dry and cumbersome. We also play around with alternative thinking games, but these lack continuity. It was not until we stumbled across The Private Eye last summer that we really found what we were looking for.

Working with a group of seven children, aged seven to eleven, we loupe-looked at our fingerprints and wrote the following poem:

My print looks like the theater seats,
the growth lines of a tree.
Its grooves and lines remind me of
the ripples on the sea.
As dry, as cracked, as desert sands,
an alligator's skin,
as parched, as old, as Canyonlands,
this is where my prints fit in.

Feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, we went on to loupe-draw the fingerprints in a 5"X7" frame. Then for something really exciting, we enlarged the drawings to 24"X36", and painted them. We were so delighted with the results that we entered them in the local county fair where they all won first prizes!

Since then I have incorporated The Private Eye into our regular program and the poems and pictures continue to amaze me. What a brilliant way to enable children to communicate clearly what they feel. What an inspiring way for them to learn how to use their minds. I did not learn what they are learning now until I went to graduate school. Congratulations and many thanks! NB: I am a graphic designer professionally. I have four children aged 9, 8 and 5 year old twins. I have homeschooled the two eldest for the last five years.

A Flower
A flower is a star,
it stays like the starbright moon.
the moon
will hide
under my bedsheets.

— Liam Dixon, age 8

Living on Coral
I sit
on a white marble cliff,
imbedded with gold.
Eating a cold crumpet,
looking out
on the Alaskan landscape

— Ryan Dixon, age 9

Decatur Elementary
Seattle, WA

I am always looking for new ways to use The Private Eye with my classroom of 3rd and 4th graders. Over the years I have tried many of the ideas illustrated in The Private Eye curriculum and have been amazed and delighted with the engagement of the kids and the high level of their work. I often find myself in uncharted waters when following student interests or working in an area in which my own knowledge is fragile. The Private Eye is a tool that has helped me to structure investigations, make connections and integrate curriculum areas.

Last year the focus of my class's studies was Canada, our border neighbor. I was surprised to find how little material was readily available, and wasn't sure how I was going to set up a study of Canadian history and culture. Using The Private Eye I found some solutions that guided the year's course of study:


Early in the year we used a math activity examining American money as a perfect jumping-off place to discover Canada. Students first used loupes to examine familiar American bills: ones, fives and tens. They were very surprised to discover all sorts of details they'd never really seen before. They picked interesting sections of these bills and drew them using jeweler's loupes to see up close. Much was revealed. They had many questions about such curiosities as the pyramid with the eye on top "What is that thing?", the letters indicating which Federal Reserve Banks produced the bills, and the fact that George Washington's picture was on the one dollar bill "Why not the ten or fifty?", "Is it an honor?", "Why?", "Shouldn't he be on the biggest bill?" Money inspired much curiosity and many questions.

We found lots of answers in the book The Go-Around Dollar and theories abounded for the unanswered ones. The kids were fascinated and thoroughly involved. Imagine their surprise when presented with Canadian bills filled with color, birds, animals, landscapes, unheard-of people, a queen, and intricate buildings. Again students drew with the aid of The Private Eye, picking a section of a bill to illustrate. The activity inspired a huge list of questions : "Their money has so many colors. Why don't we have more colors?", "What is Queen Elizabeth doing on Canadian money?", "Why do they have a beaver on their money?", "Do they have a Federal Reserve Bank too?", "What is that building?", "What is the Banque du Canada?", "What language is that?" These and many other questions were generated by this activity. The class observed that countries put what they honor and value on their money. While not a definitive list by any means, learning about who and what is on Canadian money was one way to begin learning some important things about Canada. Answering student questions provided a beginning framework for our year-long study. Students stayed very engaged and curious about their questions, and as often happens, the answers frequently sparked new questions.

Dusty Miller and the Inuit?

Dusty Miller
Like a great tree,
coral branches sag
from the weight of a fine snow
that surrounds them.
Yet the strange tree stands alone,
snow gently melting
on its leaves.
— Alex Fenner, grade 4

Our class study of Dusty Miller, a plant whose leaves are covered in a whitish fir, presented an opportunity to make connections with aspects of our Canadian study. At mid-year the class was learning about the Inuit people of Northern Canada. I put a question up on the wall: "What does Dusty Miller have to do with the Inuit? " Students proceeded to use jewelers' loupes to observe and draw the leaves of the Dusty Miller plant. They made lists of things the leaves reminded them of and turned the lists into poems (see example above). They hypothesized and theorized about the covering, wondering how and why the plant got to be fuzzy, white, "juicy", antler-like (see The Private Eye pgs. 16-17, 54-55). They hazarded some guesses and devised tests to try out their theories. They dried out leaves, refrigerated leaves, put plants into different conditions of light and dark, wet and dry, put insects on them, sprayed them with water and watched what happened. They recorded their test results. In the end they formed their conclusions.

Back to my question, "What does Dusty Miller have to do with the Inuit?"...after weeks of puzzled looks and head- scratching the class and I talked about the many ways in which the Inuit had first adjusted to life in the harsh Arctic climate. The Dusty Miller study seemed to have sharpened the class's questioning skills: "What did they eat then?", "How did they make fire without wood?", " Did they have vitamin C?", "How did they bury people?", "What was their shelter like?", "How did they keep in touch with each other when it was so cold outside?" The excellent Story of Canada by Janet Lunn answered many of the students' questions. We were all amazed and impressed that igloos of old had ice windows allowing light in and underground tunnels for visiting, that winter sleds could be made from frozen fish, that cooking utensils were made of soapstone, and fuel was heather or oil.

The class had been interested in structures in the Dusty Miller plant that promoted its survival. The thinking they did on Dusty Miller seemed to help them participate more thoughtfully in this discussion of human adaptation. In our conversation about the Inuit, students drew some interesting parallels while also noting that the Inuit's success was the result of intelligence, knowledge, cooperation and ingenuity. Looking back I am aware that The Private Eye was an essential tool for structuring our studies and setting the course for the year's work.

Writer, teacher, counselor
Seattle, WA

The distant mountains
are reflected in the eye
of the dragonfly.
— Issa

I write (professionally), and teach writing and thinking. I'm also a graduate student in psychology and am completing an internship at the Seattle Veteran's Center where I counsel Vietnam veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. In each setting The Private Eye provides a valuable tool for accessing the imagination; it engages a process whose mystery results in affecting and evocative metaphorical connections; it frees up otherwise irretrievable regions of memory and expression.

Prose Poems
My book of memoir prose poems, Now the Day is Over, explores the emotional landscape of my experience as a child growing up with an alcoholic father. I wrote thirteen of the prose poems using The Private Eye process. By looking at something under the loupe and comparing it to whatever it reminded me of, I warmed up my metaphorical muscles until I found myself immersed in a sensation or memory from my own life. While undergoing this process I could actually feel something that had long been inaccessible rising to the surface of my consciousness. I wrote:

Schoolyard, black tar and chain link fence. Icy patches of sooty snow clumped in the corner. When the recess bell rings everyone runs outside to play, but I sit on the cement stairs trying to warm my hands. This morning we drew snowmen with twigs for arms and tall black hats. Mine has no mouth, only eyes with a carrot nose. He wanted to say something but I wouldn't give him a mouth. Now he talks from the corners of the schoolyard. The biting chill that numbs my fingers and toes freezing my face and ears is him saying, This is what I was trying to tell you.

The catalyst for "Cold" was the underside of a tortoise shell studied under a loupe. This expanse of whiteness looked and felt like endless drifts of snow until I was encompassed and enveloped by a memory of cold. The images of the schoolyard and playground came back to me, and I started writing. I felt a sense of internal silence; the prose poem resulted from permitting myself to experience these sensations. I remember how safe it felt to be looking within the limited circumference of the loupe, the circle of white that at once seemed both small and oceanic as "the distant mountains" in in the poem by Issa, a haiku poet who lived from 1763-1827, are held for a moment in the "eye of the dragonfly."

Dormant splinters of memory came alive again and again as I explored decaying leaves, flower petals, and sand dollars through the trusted lens of the loupe. In looking at the luminous purple/pink petals of an African daisy I remembered the pink chintz bedspread I made as a home project in a high school Home Economics class. The sense of our house, dark and silent, returned in a way I hadn't experienced in a long time, and I wrote "Clouds" because of the felt sense of the atmosphere the loupe made available to me:

Every spring in Mrs. Paski's Home Ec class we completed a "home project," something involving sewing that we were to work on at home and share with the class after we'd finished it.

My senior year I decided to create a bedspread for the twin bed in my room. I would make it from polished pink chintz with a double-dust ruffle, one layer of chintz and over it a layer of pink dotted swiss. I would sew pink cording to run down the length of the bedspread.

Our house was filled with gray rooms, bamboo shades pulled all the way down, a lost secret no one guessed as I smiled and worked harder than ever to look normal.

My pink bedspread would be an odd addition to this place where we lived in the dark. Remembering it I think of a story where a girl sits in silence sewing shirts for her brothers who a wizard bewitched into swans.

At night they fly overhead. Wings tell me they are passing. I sew the endless fabric, gathering ruffles, turning up the hem. "I'll be finished soon," I say, I say it to my brothers and the faithful moon.

Woodinvile High School
While teaching writing at Woodinville High School I introduced The Private Eye to students in my senior English classes. We began with the fingerprint exercise described in The Private Eye (5X) Looking/Thinking by Analogy where students observe their fingerprint under a loupe and then reproduce it by drawing it inside a rectangle. They observe their drawing through a one inch square, enlarge a portion of it into another rectangle, and are then invited to further elaborate upon their drawings with colored pencils. After this they write a poem exploring their sense of their fingerprint interpretations.

"Undertow" provides an example of a poem written after Joel completed two intricate and finely detailed drawings characterized by swaying reed-like shapes, and winding circular tubes embedded with small ovals.


Rolling hills call your name
above the endless tunnel.

Flashing lights warning
of danger, footprints

melt as you look, swirling
down a storm drain

out to sea. Footsteps
underwater, cells multiplying in

overgrown seaweed waving
through water like limp swords

protecting the ocean floor.
Wandering through darkness

you can still hear
echoes of your wishes.

— Joel Barham, grade 12

The poem's sound sense brought about by the use of open vowels in combination with the repetition of the letter "l" replicates the undulating images whose "cells (are) multiplying" within the underwater landscape that threatens to pull "you" down and away. The unity between the lyricism of the language and feeling of suspension between the force of the undertow and descent into darkness, even as both are being experienced, reflects the "moiré" described by Stephen Nachmanovitch in his book on the creative process titled Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art: "A moiré, a crossing or marriage of two patterns, becomes a third pattern that has a life of its own."

In Joel's poem a "third pattern that has a life of its own" is brought about by a fusion of intensity and fluidity within his own process of observation via the loupe wherein something within his imagination was sprung loose, and through the metaphorical connections of drawing and language, given a voice for the first time.

Counseling Vietnam Veterens
The way The Private Eye loupe enables individuals to cut through layers of resistance, putting them in touch with feelings they hadn't allowed themselves to experience, is also reflected in Michael, a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD. Using the loupe to closely observe and connect with a wide variety of natural specimens, he chose to focus on sea urchin shells, mother-of-pearl, stones, seed pods, and dragonfly wings. In each instance he wrote down the associations. His list of analogies for the dragonfly wings included: honeycomb, coral, mother-of-pearl, airplane wings, structure-conformity, balsa, African masks, spiders, stingrays, locusts, chestnut tree. In response to my question, "How are any of these like your life?" he recalled the chestnut tree and locusts in the backyard of his boyhood home and created a memoir/prose poem (a kind of stream of consciousness poem) which opened sensory channels and reclaimed lost connections. He wrote:

Growing up in Illinois the backyard of my boyhood house was shrouded and cornered by this huge massive chestnut tree. It became my playground my escape route as it stood at the corner of the house with its huge limbs climbing over the roof. The escape route was through the attic yet the window didn't quite reach the tree. The window adjacent to the attic led me out to flights of fancy with Peter Pan and Huck Finn leading the charge. The tree green and heavy laden with locusts became easy to climb into and down from but not up to. Once out I was on my own and the only way back in was through a door not the house door but the basement door and that's where I began the adventure as the backdoor man.

Running away wasn't what it was always cracked up to be for once out fear set in and even though I didn't go far away the door was locked and I had nowhere to go but to hide under the next door neighbor's front porch while all the adults in the neighborhood were out running around trying to find the boy who lived next door.

After reading his prose poem aloud Michael said, "I've been escaping ever since," and then went on to discover myriad ways he had attempted to elude his childhood trauma eventually leading to his "escape into Vietnam."

The loupe and the analogy provoking questions made connections possible to help this traumatized Vietnam veteran locate and explore depths of feeling that hours of therapeutic talk did not allow.

Whether the writer is teacher, student in a high school English class, or Vietnam war veteran, Nachmanovitch's "eternal dialogue between making and sensing" is called forth in vital and essential ways whenever The Private Eye loupe/process is put into the hand of a willing creator. For the mind wakes up in new ways when the eye of the voice is permitted to see.

Fiset, Joan, Now the Day is Over, Blue Begonia Press: Yakima, 1997.
Nachmanovitch, Stephen. Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc: Los Angeles. 1991;.
Issa, Kobayashi. Translated by Sam Hamill. The Spring of My Life and Selected Haiku. Shambhala: Boston. 1997.
Ruef, Kerry. The Private Eye (5x) Looking/Thinking by Analogy. The Private Eye Project: Seattle. 1992.

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Sunnyside School District, WA

I have done this project between my 7th grade class and the Calvary Lutheran Kindergarten four times now. It has always proven to be a successful experience. We pair up the students and they work together. We go through the process of learning about the loupe and using it, first of all inside and then outside. The students are allowed to collect a few things, rocks, leaves, seeds, etc. They do the looking, guided by the 7th grade buddy. The 7th grader asks the questions: what does it look like, what does it remind you of. Kinderkids dictate their responses and their partner then lists their analogies.

The kinderkids are in the meantime beginning to draw what they see. The two of them together come up with the stories and or poems to go along with their pictures. My students then take everything back to the middle school and type what has been written. The next time we meet, the story is mounted together with the picture and our first project is complete. All of this process takes us about four hours total. The kindergarten makes a visit to the middle school to see where big kids go to school and everyone has a blast. We usually just do this in the spring, but this year, we did it both in the fall and the spring. It was great to go back and see how the kindergarten had matured and how much they remembered of the experience in the fall. We were all amazed! They truly love doing this.

Our last session the 7th graders presented their partners with magnified bug boxes to keep. They were in heaven! It was fun to watch the progression of both groups from the fall to the spring. They didn't collect bugs in the fall, but no one was afraid to collect them in the spring. I just can't say enough about how wonderful everything worked out. The project on our classroom page doesn't begin to tell it all, but we were limited both in time and space. This was all of my Share 105 project, a special program through our ESD 105 and also my Early Childhood Class I was taking at Yakima Valley Community College. I couldn't think of a better way to "kill two birds with one stone" than with the Private Eye. I'm a big believer in it. And.... I have proof!

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Yakima, WA

In our home school the teacher enjoys "changing scale," too!  On a family hike recently my husband and I were pleased to hear our children exclaiming over the discoveries they were making. Many of these "finds" were actually quite small: the stamens of a wild flower, the feathers of moss growing on the rocks. We realized that using The Private Eye method has ingrained in our children the habit of looking closely at — and rejoicing in — creation. What a thrill! In our homeschool, the teacher enjoys "changing scale," too!

UPDATE from Kindra, Fall 2013:
"I'm a former homeschool mother whose children are now young adults. (Our son is a civil engineer; our daughter is a 3rd grade teacher.) We enjoyed using The Private Eye as part of their studies throughout the years. It made a big difference in their education--once you start thinking The Private Eye way, it stays with you! Seeing in detail, thinking in analogy, and questioning what you see and think are wonderful tools for lifelong learning.

There are "keepers" in educational materials.  The Private Eye was not only a keeper, it was one of my very favorites. I still have our loupes, magnifier boxes, and the book; I'm saving them to use with grandchildren some day. Coming full circle, this fall my daughter plans to introduce her students to The Private Eye!"


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Camas School District No. 117
Camas, WA

Excerpt from a grant proposal that provided funds for the purchase of a Private Eye Class Kit, Do-It-Yourself World in a Box®, Simple Steps to a Magnified Mind, Introducing Pre-Kindergartners to The Private Eye, and an Inquiry Poster Set: This program will enhance our curriculum in many ways. For example, one of our science EALR’s is “Application: The student knows and applies science ideas and inquiry to design and analyze solutions to human problems in societal contexts.” The Private Eye allows children to study nature, and try to apply what they learn into their own lives, to assist with problem solving, such as looking at those seed pods that get stuck to your socks and using that idea to create a solution to a problem (Velcro). It also will assist in our writing curriculum, as it is a catalyst for descriptive writing, as well as explores the form of poetry and analogy. Lastly, it is an enhancement to our art curriculum, as students look at plant structures, or shell shapes and details to add details to their art.

This program is a perfect fit for the targets of the foundation. It is a program where science, art, and writing collide. It has the ability to incorporate each and every learner every year. Its hands on, engaging approach assists those who traditionally struggle with the abstractness of writing. The loupe narrows the physical focus of students, blocking out distractions.

My proposal includes the purchase of an entire Private Eye classroom kit, that consists of a set of jeweler’s loupes, specimens for kids to explore, extra magnifying boxes to continue to grow the kit, teacher’s guide, posters, video, microscope, and resource books. I am also asking for an empty specimen box so we can continue to grow the kit, as well as a set of posters and two resource booklets.

This program is an equal mix of science, art, and writing. Basically, students look at natural objects through a magnified lens, [then create pictures and] analogies…and theorize about them. This writing progresses into poetry, riddles, or simply metaphors that can be used in later, larger works (bones for poems). It sounds simple enough, but the writing and creative thinking that takes place, based on this program, is top notch.

I volunteered at the TAG conference earlier this year, so that I could attend the Private Eye training. The Private Eye integrates art, science, and writing. Students look at nature to make analogies and theories. They take time to draw the details that they are seeing at a closer look, as they are able to zoom in with the jeweler’s loupes. I purchased a few starter items to get us started. It is a wonderful experience, when students get lost in their own fingerprints. One of my friend’s students wrote, ”The wrinkles of my knuckle look like my grandpa’s forehead when he laughs”. We also wrote riddles about our fingerprints after taking a closer look. Here are some of those excerpts: “It is a field that has just been plowed;” “It is a never-ending tunnel;” and “It is the rings of a tree.”

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Yakima, WA

All my loupes are on cords now, and the kids have had 3 lessons, a packing peanut, a real peanut and the dusty miller. I used your theorizing template sheet for the dusty miller to pull, drag...encourage... them through the theorizing process. We did get to the experiment stage on that one. We also viewed the Nova movie on sight, and then I dissected a cow eyeball for the kids. Next week we will construct a paper model of an eye and brainstorm analogies with The Private Eye process for each part of the eye, i.e.: what else does the iris remind you of? The cornea? etc. On the second lesson I had the kids draw and list analogies at the same time. The next lesson we had sustained silent loupe-drawing time first, then brainstormed analogies. I have been very strict about the silent drawing time because I think it is so important that everyone has a chance to access their right brain and become engrossed. We are planning a field trip to a developing wetlands area and intend to take our loupes with us.

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Substitute Teacher
Seattle Schools, WA

The first rule in substitute teaching might well be:  Expect the unexpected.  Occasionally I enter a classroom where, due to special circumstances, the teacher has left no plans.  This happened last week.  I was the third sub called in to this 7th grade special education classroom in three days, and the regular teacher had not left plans.  My heart went out to these kids.  No one knew why the teacher left suddenly Monday morning, and the notes on his desk from my two predecessors indicated a valiant effort on their parts to pick up where he left off and keep the kids engaged in their routines.  I plodded along in their shoes for the first day, but for the next I decided to do something with them that would be a treat.  Instead of assigning more pages in their textbooks, I arranged for them to use The Private Eye.

That evening I gathered up some Private Eye materials, and prepared my first Private Eye lesson.  My arsenal included a loupe set, The Private Eye guide, drawing paper with a 5” X 5” square copied onto it, 20 pieces of cedar, 20 maple wings, and 10 poppy seed pods.  The night before I thought about all of the things I wanted to say in introduction to The Private Eye and how it would be best presented.  Here’s what I came up with:

There were many things to explain to my first period.  Why were they doing this again, when they had already done this in a previous grade?  My answer to this question went like this:  “The Private Eye is like reading and writing.  Once you have read your first book, do you say, ‘Great! I’ve learned how to read.  No need to do that again’?  No, you practice and practice, reading books for kids your age and getting better and better at it.  It is the same with The Private Eye.  As a 7th grader you will see new things and make analogies that the person you are as a 7th grader makes, not the person you were at another age.”  I found that it was important to also tell them that students in high school and college use The Private Eye, and that I myself use The Private Eye since I intend to keep learning forever.  The above explanations also interest the students who have not yet worked with the program.

The next thing I told the kids about The Private Eye is that it helps them to learn to think by analogy.  I explained that the ability to think by analogy is taken by some to be one indicator of intelligence, and even though I was teaching in three content areas that day, we were all getting better at thinking, which can be useful in many subject areas.

I showed them a loupe, demonstrated the correct orientation (wide part toward face), put it up to my eye, explained the concept of focus.  When they received their loupes, I asked them to observe the skin on their hands for 30-60 seconds.  Then I presented the questions:  “What else does it look like?  What else does it remind you of?”  They piped up: elephant skin, cracked mud in the desert, old people’s skin, spider webs.  Just like that!  They were making up analogies.  I explained what they had done, and asked them to do it some more.  They picked out a specimen and then I made a mistake.  I asked them to draw what they saw in the loupes without a sufficient introduction.  My whole first period (8 kids) drew in real-size instead of loupe size.  I told them to fill up the square, and I told them to draw what they saw in the loupe, but somehow the message didn’t translate.  Still they came up with clever, apt analogies and the drawings included many important details.  I thought about the changes I would make to the presentation for the next period.

Period two was a smaller class with one student who demanded attention at all times.  He played with his loupes, made wise cracks, and honed his repertoire for distracting classmates in various ways.  Each student in that class preferred to use their loupes over noticing him, making my job easier.  This time the presentation changed to include more details about loupe-drawing, mostly found on page 127 in The Private Eye guide.  I recommended students place the specimen next to the paper, then demonstrated loupe-looking then drawing then loupe-looking then drawing.  I asked them to use pens, and explained that I didn’t want them to get bogged down with erasing a drawing over and over in an attempt to get it right.  Still, the drawings were not what I had anticipated.  On the other hand, their writing took off like a rocket.  I asked for 5-10 analogies, explaining that when answering The Private Eye questions, “What else does it look like?  What else does it remind me of?”, they were really making up analogies.  This class ended and I again asked myself what I could be doing differently.

By third period I had it down.  The loupe-looking, the questions, and the drawings had to be made completely separate in time.  After I introduced the loupes, the questions, and the concept of analogy, I asked them to spend 20 minutes asking the questions about their specimens while loupe-looking, and writing down their answers and ignoring the square at the top of the page.  After 20 minutes, I had the leisure of explaining in depth the rationale for drawing (that it helps us to see), and the procedures for getting good results in the drawings (again, see page 127 of The Private Eye guide).  I also remembered I had brought a sample of my own work from behind a loupe.  Examples are always helpful.  I wished at that moment that I had more to show them.  Fourth period was also a success.  It was a study skills class, and since it was the last day of the term, they were welcome to study for a test or finish back work if they needed to.  About half chose to use The Private Eye instead.

Fifth period was a prep, which was good because I needed it to figure out what to do with sixth period.  Many of the kids in sixth period the day before had flat out refused to work, and in the middle of the room was a trio of girls who talked quietly and braided each others’ hair.  When I spoke with them about doing some work, they looked at me as though I had just stepped off the planet Mars.  Every once in awhile between helping students who were learning long division, I would circle back to them with a new tactic for inspiring them to pick up pencils.  Nothing ever worked, and when they left, their worksheets remained, having drifted to the floor at some point.  What was I going to do with this class?

Seventh period finally rolled around, and I gave it my best shot, using all of the methods I had learned throughout the day.  Unfortunately, they were still nonplussed by me and my clever strategies.  A few of the kids followed my directions, and a few found other things to do, and by the end of the period, we were all standing around talking, playing tic-tac-toe on the board, and turning in loupes.

I have some reflections about this day to report.  Having the loupes and specimens at my disposal gave me the opportunity to provide a valuable lesson to students who had seen many subs come and go throughout the week, and who had been through many days without a proper lesson plan.  The student response in this situation was very good.  When I do it again, I will be much better acquainted with possible pitfalls, and I expect the success to be even greater.  Two drawbacks that I noticed were these:  that more time than the 50 minutes per period was needed to give a thorough introduction to the use of The Private Eye, and that being a sub I didn’t have the same amount of credibility in the minds of the students as their regular teachers.  Still, given these difficulties, the quality of work done and the amount of on-task behavior was much, much better than it had been the day before when I started this two-day sub job.  My plan now is to offer my introduction to The Private Eye as a moveable feast:  Teachers will be able to request me and my Private Eye lesson plan, giving them the opportunity to have a full day’s leave.


Art teacher/ teacher of gifted and talented
Libby Center, Spokane Public Schools
Spokane, WA

The Art of Preparing Students for Their Future
          —How I Use The Private Eye in Art and Gifted and Talented Settings

All Part of the Same Whole?

A recent question was posed to me via the Internet:  "What is your dream teaching assignment?" My first thought came without much need for reflection.

After three decades of teaching, I actually have the teaching assignment of my dreams.  By discovering the essential elements that make lessons more discipline-based, more substance and meaning is developed in my teaching.  That relationship satisfies not only the needs of students but also my intentions as a teacher.

A teacher's dream job isn't something that comes about quickly or overnight.  Few results that I can think of in teaching ever reveal themselves without a lengthy evolution. For me, many years of experience and collegial sharing have provided opportunities to select meaningful, deep, and relevant curricula.  The proving ground is when students, both present and past talk about what they have learned, what is meaningful to them, and what type of lessons have helped them to think creatively to solve problems.

In 1975 I became an art teacher at a junior high school.  I taught seventh, eighth and ninth graders to make stuff.  That was the breadth and depth of what I accomplished, and I am not at all proud of those first four years of my teaching experience.  When later I became a facilitator for gifted and talented children, I was fortunate to have professionals come into my life to help me expand my thinking.  Those professional educators gave me reasons to have a grasp of what makes learning meaningful.  I began to teach with greater awareness of the need for integrated subject matter.  All subjects in education need integration. Courses of study should not be cubed and packaged in small compartments that do not permit free flow.  What is art, math, science and literature but all part of the same whole?

The Private Eye Project — a Premier Example of How All Paths Converge

For the past decade I have used the Private Eye 5X loupes and curriculum with my students both in the capacity of an art specialist in the elementary schools and as a teacher in a gifted and talented pull-out program.  The Private Eye Project is a premier example of how all paths converge for meaning in teaching fully integrated curricula.  And, what about required school curricula and our present world?  How do we prepare our children- our present students- for life in the near future?

"The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind -creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers."   That is what Daniel Pink says in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Considering our future thinkers explains why I couldn't provide my students with any better program in preparation for integrated thought in art, math, science and literature than the Private Eye Project.

Social Studies, Art, Literature and Science: “Point of View” and The Private Eye

My colleagues and I teach a unit of study called, "Point of View".  In this semester-long unit students are given the opportunity to see themselves, their local community and the global community from different vantage points.  One goal is to make the familiar seem unfamiliar.  Our students begin by first closely examining the culture they inhabit, then beyond, to the issues of people around the world.

What can be more personal than an individual's fingerprint?  The Private Eye ® gives many examples in their resource book that inspires teachers in ways to combine scientific and artistic observation in writing and using analogy, simile and metaphor.  

Like Magnetic Poetry

After careful observation, examination and drawing of their own fingerprints using Private Eye loupes, my students begin began to list words and analogies to The Private Eye Question: “What else does it remind me of? I add a variant: "What else could this be?"  

Students generate lists of words, then separate them onto long strips of paper as nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives.  Each of the word lists is written in different colors; verbs might be red, nouns blue, etc.  Next, students cut the words free from the strips of paper and move them all around to create a more random, free verse creative piece. (Think of the word magnets found on refrigerators)  Freeing words from the confines and dimensionality of the whole paper gives more likelihood of incongruent combinations and surprising creative expression. An analogy might be letting all of the monkeys out of their cages to run about and be playful!

As students arrange their words they become aware of the need for more adjectives and can search the thesaurus to find more powerful descriptors.  These actions enrich vocabulary.

Finally, students re-copy the chopped-up version of their writing; linking their words with pronouns and other parts of speech so that something like this:
     river wide blue
     mighty oak
     grass waving wildly

reads like this:

Sitting on the bank
of a river wide and blue,
mighty oak by my side,
the grasses waving wildly*

Now students have a drawing created by using both the artistic and scientific means of observation, analytical thinking, recorded words, expanded vocabulary and poetry.  Where were the boundaries between art, writing and science?  Those boundaries do not exist.  Each aspect of the above can be expanded in any direction.


Below is a finished piece by Autumn, grade 6:

Life Print

Sitting on the bank
Of a river wide and blue,
Mighty oak by my side
The grasses waving wildly,
I write this poem.
A ripple grows wider
As a dewdrop falls.
The intertwining lines
Inside my head,
Thoughts budding,
I am reminded
Of things that they are not.
The eye of a spider,
It's web white,
Like the vines of the grape
In the fields.
Only the complexity
And the wonder
Of anything that is living,
It all brings down
To the sea,
Dreams and wishes,
Of my fingerprint.
Everything I am
And ever will be,
Is added, multiplied and divided
Until finally there comes the conclusion,
The sum, the product, the quotient,
Of my fingerprint.
A part of me that is all my own
For no one to grasp and take away from me
My life all jumbled together
All in a bunch,
In a thing I've had since birth,
My fingerprint.

Autumn leaf
       Autumn fingerprint drawing

  with a touch of Adobe photoshop


And another by Caleb, grade 5

Becoming Lost
Streams raging, miles long
Looking cold and falling*
Then opening
Becoming a mountain
Swimming on itself,
Becoming lost

Loupe fingerprint
           Caleb fingerprint drawing
     with a touch of Adobe photoshop

For all of us teaching today, whether it is our first or fortieth year as educators, we work with the most technologically connected generation in history.  It makes sense for the subjects we teach to likewise be connected.  Educators know that extracting that one right answer from students will not teach them how to think.  All of our students deserve education that serves to open the mind's eye and spur creativity.  Problem solving and provocative thinking based on inquiry, these are the elements that will provide substance and meaning to our students for a lifetime

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GENEVIEVE BARDWELL - "Energy Systems, Insects, and the Private Eye"
BRENDA YOUNG - "Kindergarten Descriptions"

Curriculum Coordinator
Health Sciences & Technology Academy
West Virginia University, WV

I spied The Private Eye loupes at the national NSTA meeting in New Orleans. Intrigued, I bought three of them, along with the book. After initial examination of the book, I was hooked with using the loupes and "thinking by analogy".As part of the Interactions with Energy project, another teacher and myself were designing an "Energy of Living Systems" module to share with teachers during a Eisenhower Professional Development workshop. The "thinking by analogy" activity using the loupes was a perfect introduction for our module and fits in precisely with the methods prescribed by the new National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. We bought sets of 25 for each of the elementary and middle school teachers in our workshop. By initially making observations of insect life with the loupes, participants became familiar with scientific processes. Pictures were drawn (recording observations) and analogies were made. From the analogies, the teachers came up with various hypotheses that addressed their questions, such as "How do insects obtain energy?" and "What are the functions of specific insect body parts?". Once a hypothesis was formulated, this led to designing a set of procedural steps, which addressed the original question. This strategy is outlined in The Private Eye, and enables teachers to involve their students in experimental design. From presentations I have given to teachers, I have heard many comments that praise the ingenuity of the loupes and "thinking by analogy". Any tool, whether hand held or a "thinking" tool, that makes the National Science Education Standards easier to follow, will be welcomed by many teachers as they begin to re-align their curriculum.

Lakeside Elementary
Hurricane, WV

First I want to thank you for all that you did to help make my presentation at the WV Science Conference a success. I hope many people contact you about "The Private Eye." It is the elementary teacher's answer to microscopes. It has opened the eyes of my students to a world they never took the time to see before. The ability of my children to observe, think, and create increases each time they take a closer look.Here are some samples of some of my children's writing from last year about various items. I teach kindergarten, so these children are 5 and 6 years old. All of the children were in my classroom.

It looks like a rocketship.
It has holes that are big.
They are big.
I wonder what's in the holes.
It looks like a rock.
— Kaleb

I think it's stalagmites.
It reminds me of snow.
It's sharp and frozen.
— Matthew

It looks like a rock because it has holes in it. It looks like a seashell because it looks like one. It looks like worm holes.
— Megan

It looks like a hive because it has holes in it. It looks like it is a rock.
It reminds me of a rock.
— Rachael

What it reminds me of is it looks like a bee. What it looks like is a bug.
I think it is a spider.
— Brandon

It looks like a jellyfish.
It looks like a stalagmite.
It looks wet.
— Kaleb

It think it's a rock because it's shaped like one. It reminds me of cement.
It's flat and it has holes.
— Matthew

It is black lipstick.
It's definitely black.
Maybe it's eyes.
— Dani

It looks like a coat because
it has fur.
It reminds me of a rug.
It looks delicate.
— Kaleb

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did. No one can ever imagine the excitement a teacher experiences when descriptions such as these are written by 5 and 6 year old children. Thank you for creating such a useful tool for classroom teachers with limited funds.




IAN HARGREAVES - "Can You Guess? "
IAN HARGREAVES - "Report From the North"
ELAINE HUMPHREY - "Scientist in Residence at the Vancouver School Board"

Miracle Beach Elementary
Comox Valley, BC

Report from North of the border: Two years ago, I was introduced to the Private Eye Program while on an external accreditation team in the Victoria School district on Vancouver Island. What struck me immediately during the workshop, besides the enthusiasm of the teachers using the program, was the quality of the work on display produced by the students. Poems, writing, research, art; all were of a quality I had been striving to achieve with my own students. The premise of the program intrigued me, three simple questions, a jeweler's loupe and a world of objects to examine. With results that I found incredible!Upon returning to my own district on Vancouver Island, I set about trying to persuade others of the value of The Private Eye Program for students, but alas, to no avail. So I resolved to purchase my own set of loupes and, with the multitude of objects I had gathered over the years, test the program out with my own class. The results were better than I could have hoped for and the changes I saw in my students, more impressive than I could have imagined. Soon my colleagues were approaching me, asking about the student work I displayed. How was I able to get them to write so well? What was I doing to encourage the development of descriptive images in their poetry? What is The Private Eye Program I was always referring to? The effect was like "wild fire," and as word spread from teacher to teacher around my district I soon found myself being invited to staff meetings, specialist meetings and professional days to talk about my students' work and the program I was using.

I'd start my presentations by introducing them to the four samples of students work, all on the same topic, that I had brought with me. These samples reflected the broad range of student ability levels found in any classroom. One of the samples was done by a gifted and challenged student, one by an average student, one by a student with social/emotional concerns and the last, by a child with special needs. I would tell the participants this at the start of my presentation and then, as I spoke of the program, the materials, the books I had gathered, the way I incorporated it into my themes, my day, my weekly and yearly planning, I would refer to each piece of writing, reading only one before going on. Each time I would remind them of the diversity of students represented. At the end of my presentation I would invite participants to identify which piece of writing had been produced by which student.

Needless to say, it was impossible to make a distinction among the four pieces of work without lengthy and detailed analysis, the result being, a new group of teachers hooked on the program.

Picture Picture

Miracle Beach Elementary
Comox Valley, BC

It never fails to amaze me just how quickly a student’s creative writing, analytical thinking and general observational skills come on when exposed to the Private Eye program and use of the loupe. The following are six poems written by Grade Six students after just two weeks of working with the loupes and the program.


It looks like a scarred
Dinosaurs head,
And the rough crags
Of a mountain range.
It reminds me of a
Purple gravel bed,
And of a cow with a
Nose so strange.
It looks like the crashing waves,
At Torrey Pines, CA.
And it reminds me of a canyon.
It looks like the soft sunrays,
On the wrinkled hide of an
Elephants head.
It reminds me of
Little suckling piglets.
And their mamma pig

Hannah A. de Putter


It looks like I’m in a galaxy,
Or maybe I’m not .
It looks like I’m in a crystal cave,
Or maybe I’m not.
I think I’m on Mars,
Or maybe I’m not.
Oh no it’s exploding,
All space is exploding,
Now it is raining
All purple raindrops.
The soundwave it’s killing me
My ears are exploding.

— Tessa Lee Goodwin

What am I?

My eyes are like a kaleidoscope,
My wings are like four screen doors,
I have a long tail,
When I fly I look like a B-52 bomber,
Some of us are green while others are blue,
Some of us have a wing span of four inches,
like to eat mosquitoes.
What am I?

— Samantha Krystel O’Leary-Luzney


It looks like a whirlpool
Turning roughly in waves.
Up above, a rainbow with tons
Of colours, like a mess of paint
Spilled like wrinkles on a face.
It reminds me of the rings
On the trunk of trees
Scattered like shoelaces.
Its like the blood-red veins,
In your eye. The eye looking
upon the designs of a dress.
It reminds me of the busy traffic
On a Saturday afternoon.

— Janine Galandy

Sea Urchin

Volcanoes resting on purple skin
Garter snakes intertwined
Hills and mountains and pentagons sure are a big surprise!
Tentacles waving to and fro,
Many eyes a-watching.
Flesh like apricots,
To have a loupe look,
Is to see the world,
From a bugs eye view!

— Shea Wyatt

As usual, these poems are selected from a varied group of students with a wide range of ability, some of whom clearly capture for me the essence of the loupe experience; the act of viewing the world, not just from another perspective but from a completely new, and sometimes, alien perspective. All of them for me however, share that wonder and delight which comes form viewing the common, the ordinary, the everyday and seeing in it, for the first time, the unusual, the extraordinary, the unique which surrounds us, supports us and passes so often unnoticed by us. As their teacher I am forever renewed, and exhilarated by their journeys of discovery, as they venture into, what is for them, uncharted realms only to discover, all to often, that nature has been there first!

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Microscopy Specialist
MSA FOM FIG Leader (2006-8)
President, Microscopy Society of Canada (2003-2005)
University of British Columbia
North Vancouver, BC

I have used The Private Eye loupes in many outreach programs ever since I attended a workshop at the Microscopy Society of America in Portland in 1999. I am a great fan.

The Vancouver School Board hosts a program called "Scientist in Residence." This program puts a Scientist into an Elementary School for one day a week for six weeks. This year I had two classes of grade 1s and 2s. Our theme was forestry and we used The Private Eye loupes for nearly every lesson. One week we were looking closely at different leaves, another week we looked closely at celery stalks which had been put into water colored with food coloring. We were looking for the vessels that carry water up a plant. The most absorbing week the kids had was using the loupes to look at critters in leaf litter. The critters were collected into a plastic petri dish with a lid. The animals were protected from squishing fingers but could still be lifted up in one small hand while holding a loupe in the other hand. Close observations using the loupes enabled the students to answer some questions given to them such as "How many legs does your animal have?" "How many eyes can you see?" etc. before drawing their animal. I had a couple of expensive microscopes as well, but the loupes were a very inexpensive, easy to carry, (a problem each week since these classes are held on the first floor in a school with no elevator), practical solution to "looking closely" at something. Being so cost effective meant each child could have one and not have to wait for a microscope to be free.

I used to run an electron microscopy facility, with microscopes worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars, which could magnify specimens many hundreds of thousand times. School groups would come for tours and we would separate them into four. One group would get 15-20 minutes with loupes looking at their thumbprints, Lincoln in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial on an American penny, bird feather, whatever live critter I could find that morning in a specimen jar, etc. at 5 times and 10 times. Then they would go to the scanning electron microscope station to look at something up to 500,000 times; or the transmission electron microscope station looking into cells up to 600,000 times; and the fourth station was using dissecting light microscopes to discover "who stole Elaine's mug."  The loupe station was invaluable and enjoyed by all the children from grade 1 to graduate students (adapted program!).



Leon, Gto  Mexico

I attend a workshop at the AMS [American Montessori Society] Meeting in Boston last April. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to buy 20 eye loupes for my class. I started with the hand exercise. Then I gave each child a flower from a bugambilia plant. They looked closely with the loupe and wrote ten observations. Then they picked their two favorites to share in the circle. We did it like the sandwich poem idea. After all of them shared everyone was quiet in wonder and astonishment: They had actually created a poem! I couldn't believe it either, children are indeed full of poetry! I'm planning to make a little book with the children's poems to give their parents. Thanks a lot!

See the poems...

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Darthmouth College

I worked for two years at an elementary school in the Marshall Islands, and I used the Private Eye loosely in my 6th grade classroom. I was working with students who had very basic English ability, and I was supposed to be teaching them science. Science can be hard to explain when there is a major language barrier, and I found the Private Eye to be a good way to explore and investigate without having to use difficult language. The Marshallese teaching culture also does not traditionally incorporate hands-on learning, so the Private Eye was a totally new kind of learning experience for my students. I used the Private Eye book and the little microscopes in both a coral unit and a plants unit. In both, each child investigated different types of coral/plant and each of its parts through the microscope, worked on drawing it, and making models based on the shapes they saw through the lens. We did a bit of making analogies, looking at each child's drawing and thinking of what else it resembled, or what shapes and patterns we saw. The kids absolutely loved the mini-microscopes, and were very excited to experiment with the different magnitudes when putting them one on top of another. The Private Eye worked very well as a multi-disciplinary tool, involving science, art, and language learning. Although I did not use the Private Eye all year, or in every unit, when I did use it, the kids loved it and it seemed to work well for them in understanding the inquiry and hands-on part of science.

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São Paulo, Brazil
Fall 2007

My wife Tini and I, born in Holland, live 26 years on a small farm in the state São Paulo 250 east of the city São Paulo. Before, we lived 14 years on a Dutch colony, called Holambra, 150 km from São Paulo. On the farm we grow and sell organic vegetables and fruits that are sold through a home delivery system. Seventy percent in the city São Paulo and 30% in neighbor towns. Together with the vegetable box goes a newsletter that has an article, 4 recipes and health information. This same information is also in our web site

The articles from the last 25 weeks are translated to the English language as you can see at the homepage on the left hand side below.

Four years ago we started an ecology program for visitors and school kids with 3 options:

  1. sensabilisation to the nature (4 hours)

  2. Learn about organic vegetables and fruit growing (4 hours)

  3. Learn more about food and alimentation based on the book “Eat to live” from Joel Furhman

In 2005 and 2006 we received 9.000 visitors, 70% kids from 5- 12 years. Most of the schools don’t have money the pay for the cost so we found a sponsor who helps us for the cost of food and monitors.

From a lecture of Fritjof Capra in Brazil (3.500 participants), some years ago, we heard about the Center of Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, CEL and the workshops “Rethinking school lunch” were we participated 20-22 June 2007 and got the book ”Ecoliteracy” with Kerry Ruef’s article  “The Loupes Secret………………..”

With the knowledge we received in Berkeley we have adapted our program and started with one school from the neighbor town Itobi, to use our vegetable garden and the nature we have on our farm for the children (8 to10 years)
For that program we want to use The Private Eye.

From what we read about it, it seems fantastic. We are very curious to receive The Private Eye book, the jeweler’s loupes, and start practicing the process.


Joop Stoltenborg
Sìtio A Boa Terra (The good Earth)

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