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elementary education

A tip o’ the hat to Antioch Educating For Sustainability alum Matt Diller for this video and blog posting. The video captures a place-based living history written by a third grader from The College School in Webster Groves, Missouri. Read all about it below!

This video was inspired by a visit to Mastodon State Park seeing and touching Mastodon bones and learning about prehistoric, Paleo-indian Clovis culture. We followed up with experiential activities on our land, throwing with an atlatl that we bought online, flint napping facilitated by a parent, cooking meat on a spit over a fire, tearing of the meat and eating it with our hands, and plenty of “close your eyes and imagine” guided imagery informed by our study of the the past. We also led the children to do an archaeological dig with help from yet another parent on our school’s property at LaBarque Creek. After digging three feet down in sandy soil under a shelter cave, we actually found pottery shards and flint tool flakes from the Woodland period dating 1,000 to 3,000 years ago.

Some students wrote their living histories in “imagined Clovis”, and wrote their own dictionary of imagined Paleo language. The reader had to use the student created dictionary to translate the text. The boy in this video, age nine, read what he wrote as a script to the video. His appearance in the video was from a visit to our land on LaBarque Creek. Kids imagined exactly where it would be most strategic to chase a Mastodon off a real cliff that they have climbed on, or to corner it up against an actual bluff that they know. They have brushed up against ferns and mosses those places that are not abstractions but real and touchable.

This was an important element of place-based education. The students merged their academic and abstract understanding of ten thousand years ago with real topography and features of the land they walk on again and again today.  I believe the connection of place and understanding is deeper than academic. It approaches a hidden understanding that we rarely speak of that is potentially spiritual, emotional and transformative. The effort required for this curriculum design was made more sustainable with a strong partnership with parents. The outcome was priceless as is so much project-based, place-based, play-based, experiential and Educating for Sustainability inspired curriculum design.

Matt Diller
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What factors lead to a healthy, sustainable culture where students, teachers, parents, staff, and administration can flourish and learn?

In this video Antioch University New England alumnus Alex Shevrin talks about how “when we open ourselves up to true, intentional relationships with our students, we make space for them to grow. Through intentional choices, we can empower ourselves and our students to achieve more than any of us thought was possible.”

Shevrin presented “”Unconditional Positive Regard” at MTA ED Talks: Big Ideas About Education on August 4, 2014, in Williamstown, Mass. She is a teacher/leader at a small, independent, therapeutic, alternative high school in Vermont. Shevrin blogs at shevtech.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter, @shevtech.

Bob Gliner’s film, Schools That Change Communities, is about schools as they should be. In this pedagogical age of “time on task,” “direct instruction” and a short-sighted emphasis on “Drill, Baby, Drill,” Bob shows that school improvement can be healthy, engaging and lead to significant community involvement and improvement.Most often when I watch educational videos, I get choked up with anger about the wrong-headedness of the No Child Left Behind educational philosophy. Watching this film, I got choked up because Bob shows schools that manage a combination of academic rigor, community purpose and heart that is right on the money.
Check out the Schools That Change Communities trailer below.
David Sobel

Rethinking Schools and the Zinn Education Project are partnering with an exciting project: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. You can get involved by participating in the K-12 teachers  This Changes Everything Writing Retreat. Here’s a sample from their website announcement:

thischangeseverything_collageImagining solutions to the climate crisis involves imagining solutions to a host of other social problems, from economic inequality to public health to job creation to indigenous rights—even to the quality of the food we eat. As the This Changes Everything team writes: “Climate change is more than an issue, it’s a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture’s most cherished ideas about our place in the world—from the quest for endless economic growth to the assumption of Western supremacy to the limitless capacity of humans to dominate nature—are no longer viable.” Rethinking Schools editorializes: “Confronting the climate emergency … demands that young people exercise their utopian imaginations to consider alternatives of all kinds.”

 

From our friends at the U.S Green Building Council!Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 12.38.35 PM

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 4.08.41 PMWe all have a passion for education. Where we learn matters. The Center for Green Schools at the U.S Green Building Council is inviting communities from around the world to take action on school campuses for the Third Annual Green Apple Day of Service in fall 2014. On the Day of Service, students, teachers, and community members are encouraged to plan a school-wide sustainability project utilizing local volunteers to create a positive environmental change.

 

In the first two years, over 3,000 Green Apple Day of Service events took place in more than 41 countries.Projects included planting school gardens, collaborating on clean-ups, or hosting e-waste recycling drives. Schools also create custom projects that cater to their community’s specific needs. Learn about more project ideas that will happen in schools around the world.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 4.09.16 PM Green Apple Day of Service creates awareness around the importance of green schools and propels a movement emphasizing sustainable lifestyles for youth and generations to come. Schools are invited to register green projects, and read more about this transformative campaign at mygreenapple.org

By RILEY HOPEMAN and DAVID SOBEL

Creek In Winter_smBoot clad and bundled, seventeen kindergartners shuffle out of the heavy school doors. As they emerge, each breath suddenly becomes visible mixing with the cold, penetrating air. Standing poised at the door, one student, the “door holder,” waits until his or her last classmate has emerged. The students move confidently behind their teacher, Eliza Minnucci, who strides purposefully towards the nearby trail system, a mere 20 yards from the school doors. Today is Friday, Forest Friday. – See the whole article at the Community Works Journal website.

 

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