Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Big Ideas!

Post by Rebekah Lang
When we returned from the TTEC Spring Regional Workshop, there were big ideas that our team discussed:

  • We'd like to develop a school-wide Hiker's Guide that could be taught like our current "First Six Weeks of School." We want to include Leave No Trace principles, Hiking 101 and many other things we've learned from this workshop! They provided us with materials for hundreds of lessons! We just need to figure out a good framework and develop grade level standards for our school. 
  • Nature Journals: We were given time and techniques for nature journaling. My 7th grade students are studying agriculture and already had nature journals primarily used in science class. I jumped on this chance to try to incorporate the nature journals and taught them to be better observers using the timed observation activity. I integrated this into my math class where students had been learning about fractals. I had them notice details their choice of fractal shaped plants (broccoli, ferns, etc). The students LOVED it and asked to try it again the very next class! That level of engagement was so encouraging!
  • Hiker's Backpacks: After learning what supplies should be in every hiker's backpack, I've decided that I'd like to find a way to have a "class set" of hiker's backpacks to sign out for when we do real hikes on South Mountain or on the Appalachian Trail. I'm asking students to donate their old backpacks at the end of the year to start to gather supplies for next year.
Ultimately, I was just so excited to see how TTEC program fits in so beautifully with our curriculum model (which uses the environment as the integrating context for learning). The Spring Regional Workshop has so many immediately applicable ideas that I cannot wait for summer!

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Hiking Art - A first TTEC Ed-venture

Post by Donna Evans, Virginia TTEC 2015 
  While at the initial AT training at the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Betty Gatewood shared how to decorate book covers.  We learned to spray out some shaving cream, add a few drops of food coloring, swirl the color around with a pencil, and place our book covers in the mixture.  Then, we scraped off the shaving cream and allowed our wonderfully decorated books to dry.  These books can be used in our nature studies along the Appalachian Trail to write notes, draw, and color plants or wildlife that we experience along the way.

In fact, we all did take our newly decorated books along during our AT section hike to Compton Gap.  An observation I made was of one participant finding some charcoal from an old fire pit and using it to draw a tree trunk.  It was a dark color and made a beautiful black tree trunk.  Then, he grabbed some green plants close to where he sat and rubbed them to create green colors for grass and trees.  In addition, he picked up some sand and rubbed it into the scene, creating a contrasting light brown color.  This new type of nature art got me really excited.  From another in-class presentation, I also learned about using water-soluble colored pencils that can be smudged later to look like water painting.  Having never really participated in nature art, I had many new things to look forward to.

During the month of May, the same month as the initial training, I purchased some BareBooks with plain white covers, purchased shaving cream, and gathered dyes and other materials needed to make colorful book covers with students – my three home schooled children.  It was a big success making the books together.  The kids (ages 5, 6, and 8) thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

 One thing I learned by accident is that it doesn’t really matter if you choose white or blue shaving cream.  For the first few books decorated, I had the standard white shaving cream.  Then, fearing I would run out before projects were finished, I purchased some more and didn’t realize it was a blue type until home.  We experimented with it and found that blue shaving cream turns white as you swirl it around and using blue shaving cream does not seem to affect the outcome of the project.  It still results in a white background book cover with colorful swirls.

We (my children/students and I) look forward to using our nature books on many future hikes to record our observations and reflections.  I feel very fortunate to be a part of the TTEC training course – for all that I can learn and then for all that I can share with others.

North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald