Monday, August 12, 2013

Passing on the A.T. Bug

Post by Sue Garcia, Undermountain Elementary school Sheffield,. MA  4th grade

Recently I had the honor of spending a week with 50+ like minded people at the TTEC program in West Virginia.  I came away from this week inspired and excited about the coming school year.  As I mentioned, there I haven't felt this excited about school starting in many years.  The TTEC program has given me the insight and ability to teach from my heart again.. A place I began my career 18 years ago, but with time and state tests it becomes harder to find that place to teach from.  This program and last week with such wonderful people gave me that back.  I can't wait to start the project based unit that I am creating.  I have already made contact with many local organizations and have meetings planned to collaborate and work on this project.  I am planning on taking my students out on the trail the very first week of school... How exciting is that???
Today my 7 year old son and I hiked into Upper Goose Pond in Massachusetts.  Anyone that has ever been there knows that this is a special place to visit.  It has a cabin on the lake that houses 14 or so hikers on any night and welcomes them in the AM with Blueberry pancakes.  My son and I went on this journey today in order to deliver another TTEC alumni's project.  We were carrying an Appalachian Trail trading card project and the box of art supplies to go with it.  My son was so excited to make this journey with the idea of jumping in the lake when we got there. Upon reaching the cabin we were greeted by the caretaker, Pete and some fellow hikers who were spending the night there.  We got the tour and explained our purpose.  We put the project up on the fireplace hearth for pictures until Pete can determine where it will live permanently.  What a wonderful idea to give the hikers a creative outlet to leave a card and take a card with them from another hiker.  Thank you Geoff DeMark, from Woodgrove H.S in Loudon county, VA  for doing this project and giving us a wonderful reason to hike today. Your students' project will give a lot of pleasure to many hikers who spend the night at Upper Goose Pond.    

While at the cabin Aidan, my son and I looked around and decided that our family will be hiking in sometime this fall to spend the night.  He loved the idea of staying over night on the bunks and talking to thru-hikers.  One of the things that I have been so grateful to TTEC about is how much my son loves hiking and is interested in the trail. His last year's teacher is a TTEC alumni and she gave him the A.T. bug and now he can't wait to hike on any given day.  This program has given our family a wonderful way to get out on the trail and to become involved in the trail community.  I look forward to seeing where this leads to in my son's life.. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Great Resource

Now that school is out and the warmest months of the year are upon us, now is a great time to get outside, connect with nature, and think about how to help others do the same. We're pleased to announce the arrival of our Summer 2013 issue of Green Teacher, which is also our landmark 100th issue:

Monday, August 5, 2013

TTEC: Empowered through Collaboration

TTEC Participant Kristy Duris
I will describe the summer institute for TTEC in one word – amazing. Amazing teachers, amazing presenters, amazing facility, amazing food- all of these elements came together to create an inspirational, motivating experience for me. I left with a strong grasp on the philosophy of place based service learning, as well as a vast amount of strategies and tools to help me implement it.
I would like to commend TTEC for modeling the main ideas of the program during the summer institute. First, NCTC fully embodied the the principle “grounded in place.” This facility provided an optimal environment (trails, trees, rivers, flowers, ATC center, etc.) to practice and understand how place matters when learning new concepts and skills, such as we were. TTEC is the most “real” professional development I have attended in years; what I do with this information will impact my students as they learn about community, the natural world, and more. Through the tools and information presented by everyone in TTEC, I am “empowered.” I feel as though I can do and will do. The fourth principle, “collaboration,” is the strength of my success in this program. My colleague and I joined TTEC together and developed an interdisciplinary unit between wellness and English. In addition to that, we both have whole school goals, working collaboratively with the entire school to bring an increased awareness to our staff and students about “place.” These principles reside more than just in my mind, they truly have become a part of my heart and how I want to live.
I experienced several “a-ha” moments during the week, I had a revelation that includes using the AT as the focal point for my 9th wellness course. I realized that with the AT as the focal point, I could teach several of the power standards of my discipline, such as decision making and advocacy for health, around it. With the same idea in mind, I had my second revelation; my 8th Project Venture class (which is focused on service learning) could be a focal point for the core classes (math, science, English, etc.). Project Venture can help teach those skills/concepts through our experience with placed based service learning. And this is just the beginning.
I am grateful to teachers in this cohort as well, sharing their experiences helped me shape my goals for PBSL. I was impressed with the rigor of the expectations as well as with TTEC's incorporation of education's current best practices (UBD, CCSS, etc.). Also, I am confident that I can write a grant, thanks to the grant writing workshop. I found each part of the summer institute valuable, relevant, and engaging. Thank you, TTEC!

Post and picture by Kristy Duris
Profile School
Bethlehem, NH

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Passion Ignites at Summer Institute

Colleen Weathers from Gorham NH on our quest in Harpers Ferry
The lovely Potomac River
Empowered. Excited. Energized. This is how I feel after attending the TTEC summer institute.  Even though the 40 TTEC participants came from different areas and taught different grade levels and subject areas, we all share a common vision and passion – we want to get students outside and create responsible global citizens. This was the best professional development opportunity in my ten years of teaching. It stood out because the program incorporated the current educational initiatives (UbD, STEM, Common Core, 21st Learning Expectations, especially civic). It was extremely helpful to have “team time” to process and reflect immediately. This is rare during a workshop, and allowed us to make our ideas a reality instantly and utilize our immediate resources (the TTEC leaders and peers). Each session was engaging and sparked new ideas and ways to incorporate place based service learning into my curriculum.
Kristy Duris and me from the White Mountains in NH and Sue Garcia and Rebecca Neet from the Berkshires in MA

The most valuable aspect of the week was sharing ideas, including case studies and receiving feedback from peers. I had the opportunity to learn about grant writing and that there are many communities that offer funds for education. The time we were given to work on our individual units was helpful to process information and to reflect upon how to make this a reality in our classrooms. My projects will involve taking my 9th graders hiking on the Appalachian Trail and doing nature and narrative writing. Also, my colleague and I will coordinate with our local Appalachian Trail Club to plan a trail maintenance day.

During the week, my colleague, Kristy Duris, and I created a presentation to share with our staff during our professional development day before school begins. We plan to share what we learned about place based service learning and the research about why this approach engages students and inspires them to be invested citizens in their communities. We also will share resources and handouts, along with our curriculum for implementation. Our goal is to gain colleague support, plan interdisciplinary units and activities, encourage other teachers to implement a place based service learning activity or unit and to gain student awareness and action.

The most fascinating fact  I learned was that ⅓ of the east coast water is protected because it is on AT lands. This shows the importance of encouraging the youth of today to become active citizens in our communities along the AT. I am looking forward to the start of the school year with a unit about place that will lead into a service learning opportunity in collaboration with our local Appalachian Mountain Club and my colleagues. Thank you so much for all the TTEC Advisory Board's time and efforts to put together this program.

Lori Innes
Curriculum Coordinator
English Department
Nordic Coach
Profile School

North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald