Thursday, October 31, 2013

Overcoming Logistical Challenges

Cathy Harron, 4th grade teacher at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School in Warren County, VA. 
Outside, outdoors has always been a favorite part of my life.  Up until a little while ago, I took for granted that the great outdoors would always be there for me.  Oh, I understood we needed to take care of it.  I can remember my dad looking on in bemusement at a 7 year old picking up trash when our family went for a walk and staying with friends who scattered coins on the ground because they observed my friend and I cleaning up our campsite area.  But for the most part, I thought that people had learned from the past and knew how to take care of our world.  This summer in West Virginia has taught me that I should take nothing for granted.  That I, as a teacher, should understand more than anyone that these values and ideals have to be instilled early on.
During the summer institute the concept of place based service learning along with the outdoor classroom and integrating core subjects seemed like such a logical way of reaching each of the students not only academically, but also with the values, goals, and problem solving skills that reaches into all areas of their lives, in their home, school, neighborhood, and community while making the most of their different learning styles.   Real problems needing real solutions.
 I came away from the summer institute inspired and excited, but, I have to admit, frustrated.  While I am ready to jump in with both feet I am hampered by logistics.  Our county has just purchased a brand new basal series and a brand new math program and we are required to use each in the manner they were intended.  How can I fit in all of these wonderful place based service ideas floating around in my head with a curriculum that requires me to teach each subject in an isolated manner?
Meeting with Sonja Carlborg, our local AT rep gave me some very good ideas for place based service learning.  Those ideas are represented in the picture below.  I hope that I will be able to utilize them.

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald