Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rivers Team: Environmental Education

We had a wonderful opportunity to kick-start our Rivers Team Collaboration
at Drumlin Farm's New Learning Center today.
Today our team met with environmental educators and leaders, Robin Stuart, Jennifer Feller, and Kim Flanzer, from Massachusetts Audubon's Drumlin Farm. They introduced us to a grant they are forwarding with our school, Happy Hollow, and the Curtis Middle School to deepen students' environmental education, service, and advocacy.

There are many exciting features to the grant including the following:
  • a multidisciplinary approach
  • an effort to marry social studies and science with a focus on civics education
  • connections to the River Stewardship Council which includes the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Program, OARS, Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT), and SUASCO.
  • a focus on youth-led environmental action
  • the support of a naturalist coach, Kim Flanzer
The grant will encompass the following activities:
  • watershed education
  • education about climate change
  • a close look at how climate change is impacting the local watershed
  • student service learning and advocacy related to their study and the environmental needs they identify
The meeting led to a number of details related to the teaching and learning ahead:
  • students will visit the Greenways, local conservation land that abuts the river, in the fall, spring, and perhaps other times throughout the year.
  • educators will meet with Drumlin Farm leaders and educators early in the year to study and prepare for the student program ahead.
  • Kim will support teachers with lessons on the watershed, global warming, and environmental advocacy.
  • we would potentially like to match students' service learning, advocacy, and presentation with spring River Days, days that celebrate the National Wild and Scenic Sudbury, Concord and Asset Rivers in our area.
  • The efforts will focus on hands-on, project based learning that happens outdoors as much as possible.
  • Include community members in our study, particularly citizens who have shared environmental focus and information with us in the past. 
  • Help students to earn their Junior River Badges.
We also talked about setting the stage for naturalist/environmental teaching and learning with these protocols, resources, and routines:
  • Set norms with students related to science study and the question: What do scientists do? Emphasize science practices such as scientists are curious, ask questions, take notes, analyze data, observe, draw conclusions, work together, and listen to each other. Scientists also take a serious attitude towards the materials they use and know the difference between simply playing outdoors and working as scientists in the outdoors. 
  • Bring to mind myths about science at the start of the year and through activities dispel the myths and develop a strong sense of who scientists are and what they do.
  • Develop observation skills with the statements: I notice, I wonder, It reminds me of. 
  • Access BEETLE outdoor education resources
  • Emphasize scientific processes and explicitly demonstrate the differences between content and process. 
Today marked the next chapter of good collaboration which will result in allowing students to experience and learn from nature in ways that matter.