From the Classroom

Watershed Week: A WC Teacher Testimonial

Watershed Week: A WC Teacher Testimonial

This past Summer I participated in the Watershed Week professional development organized and sponsored by STRAW and Friends of the Petaluma River. In past years, both groups had held separate events, but on teacher suggestion they joined forces to create one, amazing event.

I have attended PDs by both STRAW and Friends of the Petaluma River’s Watershed Classroom. Both groups put together useful and inspiring programs. The challenge for teachers is that many of us are involved with both groups, and so due to time constraints we often felt like we had to choose one or the other. Combining the workshops supports both programs really well, as both have similar goals: a deepening of community and enriching classroom experiences that inspire a love and wonder for our local environment. And because it is now a combined workshop no one is missing out on any of the good stuff.

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A Few Favorite Environmentally Conscious Children’s Books

A Few Favorite Environmentally Conscious Children’s Books

After the long summer, students are all heading back to school. Reading together is a great way to promote open communication during this busy transitional time. A thoughtful selection of books can facilitate conversations about feelings, giving parents and children the opportunity to benefit from an honest, open discussion.

Books can also serve as a way to address current cultural topics and issues that children hear about, but are perhaps unsure of how discuss or understand. Currently the Amazon rainforest, often called the earth’s lungs, are burning and conversations about climate change are very prevalent. The fragility of our environment can be terrifying for adults, and for children it can be entirely overwhelming. Luckily, we have brilliant books that make environmental issues digestible for younger audiences and provide examples of positive change.

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Getting Kids Outside: Using Photography to Connect Kids to Nature

Getting Kids Outside: Using Photography to Connect Kids to Nature

As the summer weeks roll on, parents are often trying to find new ways to encourage their kids to get outside. Photography not only encourages creative expression, but it can also be a way to get children excited about capturing local wildlife or plants that they can later identify.

Children today are maturing in an environment entirely different than earlier generations. They have constant access to technological stimulation, which has largely come at the expense of outdoor experiences. As technology and media continue to be paramount in our lives, the understanding of our relationship with nature is often overlooked and forgotten. 

Wildlife photography has the power to bring the natural world, foreign places and all that they encompass, to the viewer. Capturing tender moments between a mother tiger and her cub, or the delicate and deceiving beauty of a camouflaged praying mantis ready to ensnare a hummingbird. These photographs bring to life places and species that we may never otherwise see and appreciate. These moments captured on film elicit strong feelings and we are changed; suddenly, we are connected to a new place and new animals. 

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Strategy Share: Environmental Literacy and Connections with STEM Californians

Strategy Share: Environmental Literacy and Connections with STEM Californians

Hi to all the global citizens, explorers, and educators! In my previous post, I shared how I use National Geographic Young Explorer Magazine as a powerful tool to empower my students to make interdisciplinary connections and explore like paleontologists, ichthyologists, and oceanographers. Kindergartners have a natural sense of wonder and curiosity, and they inspire me to see the world in all its interconnected beauty. I want them to appreciate all of the amazing beauty on Earth, as well as the beauty in their own world, which is California!

This time, I’m writing to share about two other resources I frequently pair together in my classroom: the California Education and the Environment Initiative Curriculum (EEI) and local, real-world scientists. The EEI are free K-12 units are aligned with social studies, Common Core and NGSS standards: Interdisciplinary connections for an interconnected world! Most importantly, to empower my students and make what we learn with EEI tangible, I connect them to STEM Californians (like National Geographic Explorers) who are making the world more awesome by protecting, studying and conserving these natural resources on land and in water.

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