Monday, October 7, 2013

Trail to Trail: Leave No Trace on the Boulder Face

Planning the TTEC unit was fun for me -- I especially love the unit template and plan to convert all my place-based units to that format -- but even more exciting is seeing the plan come to life. When you add kids to the plans, you add the magical ingredient that brings learning to life. Add a sprinkle of serendipity and you have place-based experiential learning at its best.

We've been in school only 18 days, but Leave No Trace on the Boulder Face is already rolling. We took our Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs hike about 2 weeks ago (see the bracelets in the photo representing each level of needs) and we are currently examining how a character in a book we are reading meets his most basic needs as he tries to survive alone deep in the forest (Hatchet by Gary Paulsen).

Last week we did a habitat study in a local community park which helped us to develop our understanding of the 5 Elements of Survival and how humans can impact other living things both positively and negatively. This will also contribute to our systems-focus on vandalism on the AT.

And we've started our work toward understanding vandalism with two experiences we've had very close to our classroom recently -- vandalism in the school bathrooms and vandalism in our tiny schoolyard wildlife sanctuary. While vandalism on our South Mountain Trail has always been a concern of my fifth graders, seeing vandalism on our own property is personal and makes the issue less "what's wrong with those people?" and more like "hey, what is going on with us?".

Next week my class takes on the issue of vandalism in our little wildlife sanctuary by presenting Leave No Trace principles (and signs) to our entire Seven Gen community in an all-school morning meeting. They chose to present the importance of Leave No Trace from the perspective of the worms that live there. This is one small step toward our larger service learning challenge - dealing with the vandalism on our own boulder field at South Mountain and then on Bake Oven Knob, the highlight of our section of the Appalachian Trail (see the photo above). My parents took me to hike on that section so often as a child that I had the trail not only to the boulder knob memorized, but also in the other direction about 2 miles out to Bare Rocks. It still stuns me to see how the boulder field has been defaced. Watching people try to take photos of the lookout with graffiti on the rocks is just sad. Our first trip to the AT is scheduled for October 25th, so we have one month to get ready for that experience, which I know will make a huge impact on my kids. 

Post by:
Alison Saeger Panik
TTEC 2013
Teacher, Grade 5
Seven Generations Charter School
Emmaus, Pennsylvania

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