Mentoring Nature Connections Podcast
This podcast is for educators by educators, in the hopes of inspiring and developing our connections with nature. Let's create a supportive and encouraging environment by sharing our personal experiences with learning, teaching, and playing outdoors. We will tackle questions around why outdoor learning is so important, how do we set up nature routines with our learners, how do we connect different curricular areas with nature, and how do we document our learning journey. This interview style podcast will explore a variety of nature experiences from educators across the province.
Mathematics and Outdoor Learning with Janice NovakowskiIn today's episode of Mentoring Nature Connections, we are looking at how to infuse mathematics into our outdoor learning adventures.
Our guest tonight is Janice Novakowski who is a K-12 mathematics and numeracy consultant for the Richmond district in BC. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, working with pre-service teachers and is on the board of directors of the Vancouver reggio association and facilitates the BC Reggio-Inspired Mathematics Project.
What we discuss today:
*Looking at the world through a mathematical lens! Where does math live outdoors?
*Expanding our understanding of what mathematics is. Looking beyond just computations and seeing how dialogue, discourse and doing mathematics is a key aspect of our BC curriculum.
*Understanding our curriculum will help us follow the inevitable emergent opportunities that nature provides us with.
*Documentation as a tool to help make our outdoor mathematical learning visible.
*So many easy-to-use ideas on how to incorporate mathematics outdoors. For example, using simple prompts based off what you notice outdoors that day. What do you notice? What do you wonder? What math do you see?
*Janice references ‘The Studio’ which is a classroom she has set up at Grauer Elementary in Richmond where she invites classrooms of students and educators to explore play-based mathematics.
* BC Reggio-Inspired Mathematics: https://janicenovkam.typepad.com/reggioinspired_mathematic/archives.html
Inspirational People who were mentioned:
Dr. Cynthia Nicol, UBC - https://edcp.educ.ubc.ca/faculty-staff/cynthia-nicol/
Dr. Selma Wasserman, SFU - https://www.sfu.ca/education-research-hub/research-in-focus/spotlight-series/retiree-research/Selma-Wassermann.html
Terry Point – connecting mathematics, science and land. Interview with the late Terry Point: http://thenhier.ca/en/content/x%3F%3F%3Fiw%3Fn-cep-k%3F%3F%3F%3F-n%3F%3Fey%3F%3F-remember-your-teachings.html
Local weavers: learning about the connection of cedar, wool and mathematics
Jessica Silvey - http://www.authenticindigenous.com/artists/jessica-silvey
Alice Guss - http://www.authenticindigenous.com/artists/alice-guss
Janice and Buddy George - http://weavinghouse.com/who-we-are/
Novelty Nature Note:
*Symmetry is very common in nature and the type of symmetry provides a different purpose – so we have bilateral symmetry whereas starfish have rotational symmetry which helps them attack their prey from different directions.
*After touring the land of the Musqueam community, Janice learned about the indigenous connection to the land and how time is measured. For example, early spring is when salmonberries bloom. This time of year can also be called the “time of the salmonberries.”
Place-Based Learning Through Story and Mapping with Kelsey KellerMentoring Nature Connections is all about sharing our experiences and questions about outdoor explorations. I'm hoping you'll join us on our journey of investigating nature with our learners. Today we are joined by Kelsey Keller, a Grade 3/4/5 Montessori teacher at Baker Drive in Coquitlam, BC. Together we are exploring the topic of place-based learning and how we make the connection between story, perspective, and mapping.
Key questions we are going to tackle today include: How can we see place as being our teacher? How can we uncover the history of our land? How can we structure our exploration time during #Forestschool?
Information on today's guest: Kelsey Keller
Inspirational people we discussed: Erin Kenny, the founder of Cedarsong Nature School in Washington, said that “children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.”
David Jardine and his views on restlessness.
Novelty Nature Notes: Trees cannot die of old age. Something external has to kill them. This makes them the oldest living organism on Earth. Wood Wide Web. Trees have a secret underground messaging system!
Litearcy and Outdoor Learning with Faye BrownlieHave you ever wondered how to infuse literacy with your outdoor adventures? Nature is a literacy-rich environment, a place where we can experiment with language in many ways. Our land provides us with an inherently play-based environment where we can explore literacy in an informal way. We can expand our vocabulary, develop conversational skills, recount stories and events, and the list goes on and on. And this isn’t just for our youngest learners, we can all develop our language through play and our outdoor environment is a very powerful tool that we can use to help us on that learning journey.
Our guest tonight is Faye Brownlie, a literacy superstar! She has worked all over Canada as well as internationally to support and coach K-12 teachers in their journey towards creating an inclusive literacy framework for their classrooms. Faye has several publications, including It’s All About Thinking, Grand Conversations, Learning in Safe Schools, and Student Diversity. She flawlessly models open-ended teaching strategies and believes in the power of collaboration. Website: fayebrownlie.ca Twitter: @fayebrownlie
What we discuss today:
*Looking at the world through a literacy lens!
*Story Walks – taking an image from a familiar picture book and displaying them around your nature walk path. A fun way to explore retelling stories while getting some fresh air!
*Guided Imagery lesson example – the benefits of being outdoors while writing in role
*How nature can help us build a word bank and a world bank through our experiences
*Setting Collection lesson ideas. Gathering nature items to help inspire your setting for writing a narrative
Inspirational People and Resources who were mentioned:
*Whonnock Elementary in Maple Ridge, BC. Heather Chapman and Renee Pennell run a program called Cedar Stream
*Georgia Herd’s book, Awakening the Heart. A wonderful book to help you explore poetry and play with language and imagery.
*Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Gathering Moss. “With words at your disposal, you can see more clearly. Finding the words is another step in learning to see.”
Novelty Nature Note:
* Reindeer moss is not actually a type of moss, it’s a lichen – but it gets its name because reindeer are one of the only animals that eat it. It has a special chemical that helps the animal keep its blood warm during the colder months.
*Racoons are digging up Faye’s planter boxes on the second story balcony. Oh dear!
Collaborative Teaching with April PikkarainenApril Pikkarainen is our guest tonight to talk about the importance of collaborative teaching. April and I taught in a collaborative setting for 2 years where we engaged in daily outdoor learning experiences with our 44 Kindergarten and Grade 1 learners. Amazing!! I hope you have fun listening to our journey and what we learned from this experience.
What We Talk About Today:
*collaborative teaching in a K/1 classroom
*how our collaborative teaching helped with outdoor learning inquiries
*re-imagining how we used our resource support outdoors
Inspirational people who were mentioned:
Kelli Lundi @KelliB12
Alan Tesan @AlanaTesan
Catherine Ludwig @CathJule
Hieu Fraser @hieu_fraser
Novelty Nature Notes:
Novelty Nature Note:
* skunk cabbage generates its own heat which melts the snow around itself – allowing them to bloom early.
* conifers can “help” control the squirrel population by alternating how many cones / seeds they produce each year.
Shelley Moore: Inclusive and Competency
Shelley Moore is the author of One Without the Other: Stories of unity through diversity and inclusion. Her website blogsomemoore.com has numerous resources and information about her endless work in this complex field of inclusive education and competency-based learning. Shelley also consults throughout BC, Canada and across north America.
Based Learning in Nature
Shelley's Social Media Info:
We asked the Twittersphere if they had questions for Shelley about inclusion and outdoor learning. We tackled 4 questions:
1)Alyssa Stapleton asked: "How might the universal design principles be adapted for outdoor learning opportunities? What might planning for outdoor learning for all learners and inclusivity look like at different levels within an educational and school setting? How does collaboration with learning support teachers and school-based teams look like in this context?"
2)Josie Zahn: "What dream team!! Outdoor learning is fantastic for all students. The only issues I’ve had have been around safety… For example, little ones who aren’t aware of the boundaries (when there’s only one adult) and sensory issues (wet feet, rain) … and preplanning helps these!"
3)Shannon Mills but actually hers is more of a comment. She says that: "In our cohort we have 3 students who have autism and all thrive during outdoor learning. We visit the forest every day and it is a part of the day they most look forward to. They get very disappointed if there is a wind warning and we can’t go. Get outdoors. It’s the best."
4)Anna Dutke asks: "Any tips or advice on writing their special education goals/objectives so that they can be worked on in an outdoor classroom environment? Or examples of how teachers have incorporated data collection in an outdoor classroom? I often hear time and data collection as being barriers."
Other Things Mentioned:
Book: A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel
Anna Dutke: Outdoor educator in Minnesota – twitter: @ADutke
Novelty Nature Note:
~Did you know that the hippopotamus milk is pink?!
~Shelley lives on Bowen Island and part of her reconciliation journey was to get to know her new place a little better. It’s part of the Squamish territory and is named Nex̱wlélex̱m. Shelley also mentioned Glass Coral Reef. It was thought that glass coral only grew in one place northwest corner of Vancouver Island. But it has been recently discovered on the northwest corner of Bowen Island. Shelley is about to live in a UNESCO marine heritage site!
Learning With Purpose and Place with Alexa CharlesOur guest tonight is Alexa Charles who is a Mentoring Support Teacher for the Coquitlam district. She leads us through her journey of “Learning with Purpose and Place in SD43” and how she infuses an ethnography lens with her documentation.
Alexa Charles Information:
She curates a blog entitled, “Learning with Purpose and Place in SD43.”
Follow her on Twitter @MsCharlesSD43
Other Inspirational People We Chatted About:
Megan Zeni @Roomtoplay
Dr. Gillian Judson (Walking Curriculum) @perfinker
CBEEN (Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network) @CBEENetwork and www.cbeen.ca Inspirational Quotes:
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir One of Alexa’s personal mentors, Collen Castonguay, a middle school VP in Coquitlam, once said to her…. “Anytime anyone anywhere shares a story, a story you know they are passionate to tell, you will find a connection to it.” That is her offering today, on the podcast. Her hope that through our conversation, you will find something to connect to with, big or small. Novelty Nature Note:
*Hummingbirds: They are the only bird that can fly backwards, their legs are only used for perching – well they can move sideways when they are perched but they can’t walk. They have no sense of smell, but colour vision is amazing – which is why feeders are bright red. And they are the smallest migrating birds, but they don’t migrate in flocks.
*Crows – commonly viewed as a nuisance so are often overlooked. The best thing about these birds is that they can be easily observed in rural and urban settings. Go observe them! We can learn a lot from them
Social-Emotional Learning Outdoors with Miriam MillerLet’s discuss the intersection between social-emotional learning and learning outdoors with Miriam Miller!
~Casel reviews and recommends SEL programs that can be adopted into classroom practice. www.casel.org ~Investigating and discussing how outdoor learning can be a way we can practice and apply SEL. ~The importance of using nature routines to provide safety and consistency for our learners (e.g., a gathering circle, a sit spot).
~Mindfulness! The outdoors is a place to slow down and attend to the environment. Sometimes the invitation for our learners is simply to listen.
~SEED framework which stands for social-emotional and environmental education development framework. It’s a nature-based social-emotional approach for early childhood education.
Novelty Nature Note:
~Cougars are the second largest cat in North America, but they are unable to roar. They have the biggest range of large animals in the western hemisphere, and they can jump up to 20 feet in the air.
~Bull kelp: you can cut off the end and use it to snorkel!
Place-Conscious Learning in Middle Years with Dr. Leyton SchnellertPlace has a history, often we are unconscious of it. It is our responsibility to think about the indigeneity of our place and learn about different perspectives. We can help students develop a sense of responsibility for the land.
Dr. Leyton Schnellert:
Today through zoom, Dr. Leyton Schnellert is joining us to talk about place-conscious learning in the middle school years. Leyton is an associate professor in the UBC’s department of curriculum & pedagogy and Eleanor rix professor of rural teacher education. He has been a middle school and secondary school classroom teacher as well as a learning resource teacher for K-12. Leyton has co-authored 7 books, including Student Diversity, Pulling Together, Developing Self-Regulated Learners, and It’s All About Thinking. As a researcher, he presents his work throughout Canada as well as internationally.
When thinking about outdoor learning and place-conscious learning, think to yourself:
What needs to be transformed here?
What needs to be protected here?
What needs to be restored here?
What needs to be created here?
Leyton believes that the first resource is place and the second resource are the learners. Newsella: online researching tool Nativeland.ca Mill Bay Nature School Kootenay boundary inspirational handbook: https://kbee.ca/handbook/ “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu “If we want kids to flourish then we need them to love the earth first before we ask them to save it.” David Sobel Inspirational People: Inspirational People: Kim Ondrik – visiting the bog and investigating community impact on the bog. Orrin Hawke – SD 5 Biz Tupper and Leslie Leitch: Math Wonder Walks Morgan Taylor – grade 4/5/6 – collaborative teaching David Greenweld: environmental education – what needs to be transformed here – what needs to be protected here? What needs to be restored here? Created here? Novelty Nature Note:
My random nature fact is about Wildlife Trees or decaying trees in the forest and how woodpeckers are “primary cavity nesters” which means they dig out the holes themselves to live in. But the next year they move onto a new decaying tree and dig out another hole. This means that a “secondary cavity nester” can move into their old nest – these are often owls, kestrels, or swallows – so an animal that is unable to dig out their own hole.
Leyton’s Nature Note:
The airport near him in Castlegar is nicknamed ‘cancelgar’, because of the inversions in the air. The birds have to navigate a lot of weather challenges! He also talks about the forest fires and how that connects to the life cycle of trees.
Wilderness Awareness School with Manon McPetersManon McPeters is a lead nature instructor trainer at the Wilderness Awareness School which is based in Duvall, Washington. She has been working with the 8 shields framework for mentoring for over a decade and also grew up as a teen student of the Wilderness Awareness program. Her passions are engaging with the human body and observing the connection between brain and body and how they collaborate together.
Manon McPeters Instagram: asarum.caudatum Wilderness Awareness School: Instagram: wilderness_awareness
Kamana Independent Study courses: https://www.wildernessawareness.org/adult-programs/kamana/ Book: Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown. http://coyotesguide.com The Art of Questioning is an approach used in coyote’s mentoring. I wonder how I can use questioning to support inquiry and nudge learning in new directions? This isn’t formulaic or a set of check boxes that we need to complete. We work with what our students are curious about. What is catching their attention? Manon also talks about how we can use storytelling to infuse and weave information during our interactions with our learners. I also ask Manon to talk about the ‘trickster transformer’ mentoring approach. It’s a very powerful tool but we need to have a strong relationship with our learners first. Trust is everything!
Novelty Nature Note:
I’ve been learning how to identify the difference between a Coopers hawk and a Sharp Shinned hawk. The Cooper’s hawk is about 6 inches bigger than a Sharpie – but also their outer tail feathers are shorter than the rest of the tail feathers – so it looks rounded or like a rainbow
Manon’s Novelty Nature Note:
Woodpeckers have retractable tongues! It spirals around their skull or even around their eyes.
The Guelph Outdoor School with Chris GreenChris Green, our guest today, is the Director of The Guelph Outdoor School in Ontario, Canada. Let’s dig into how outdoor schools run!
Website: https://www.theguelphoutdoorschool.com/about Facebook: The Guelph Outdoor School Instagram: @TheGuelphOutdoorSchool We begin by talking about how to make land acknowledgements more personal and authentic. Chris suggests that we can do this by thinking about our relationship to the land. Guelph Outdoor School was inspired by the book Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, by Jon Young. Why? Because it’s an attributes-based curriculum that prepares learners with practical skills (like cardinal directions) but also ‘soft skills’ (like learning about cooperation). Chris also talks about how we live in an era that is ‘information rich but connection poor.’ He believes that outdoor school not only helps disrupt this trend, but it also helps to rebuild our connection and relationships with our land and community. Chris describes how to use the Art of Questioning with your learners. He paints a picture of finding a balance with the different levels of questions that you ask. Level 1: confidence building, observable, simple. E.g., “What colour is the mallards head over there?” Level 2: digging a bit deeper, must explore a little bit more to gather more information, expanded observation, inquisitive focus. E.g., “What direction is the worm track going? Are you sure? How do you know?” Level 3: extension questions that sometimes can’t be answered. E.g., “How does this worm see where it’s going?” There’s nothing wrong, however, with giving answers and information. In fact, there’s a common saying: “never throw seeds at unprepped soil…but if the soil is prepped, then give the seeds.” Chris ends our time by talking about the importance of planning for down time – he calls it “making time for timelessness!” Novelty Nature Note: *you can determine the age of a sand dollar by counting the rings on it, like you do with a tree. *a woodpecker can coil its tongue around it's brain!
Truth and Reconciliation with Nadine McSpaddenToday’s episode is to help shed light on a very important topic here in Canada. I do want to front load all the listeners that there is some graphic and disturbing content in the intro of this podcast.
Our country has a tragically sad history when it comes to the treatment of Indigenous people. Recently, the remains of 215 children were discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential school. Our guest today, Nadine McSpadden, has a personal connection with this school and graciously agreed to speak with us to help open these difficult conversations. Please consider donating to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society: https://www.irsss.ca Nadine McSpadden: - Secwepemc Nation, Shuswap Indian Band - Helping Teacher for Aboriginal Learning, Surrey School District - My dream is that every teacher participates in reconciliation. I love how the Early Childhood Framework defines reconciliation and this is how I interpret their definition. We heal relationships by valuing Indigenous Peoples. We show value by forging personal connections, by showcasing authentic resources in all areas of the curriculum and by making a commitment to participate in community events where we build background knowledge about the people of who’s traditional territories we reside. By creating these relationships, we can redefine how schools are perceived by those who have been hurt. School can become a place where Indigenous knowledge is celebrated and where diversity of language and culture is recognized. - Twitter: @NadineMcSpadden Nadine begins by guiding us through how to make land acknowledgments more personal and authentic. She speaks to “How are we unique? And how are we similar to other cultures?” “How can we make our schools a safe place to be?” Let’s begin by looking at the resources in our schools – are they inclusive, authentic and respectful? Who has the right to share stories? Teachers have the responsibility to do their due diligence; there are some things that aren’t meant to be shared. Resources: Saanich moon kit: https://sites.google.com/sd63.bc.ca/sd63indigenoused/resource-kits/the-saanich-year-resource-kit Surrey School District’s Aboriginal resources for teachers: https://aboriginalresourcesforteachers.weebly.com A website Nadine created for outdoor learning: https://aboriginalresourcesforteachers.weebly.com/outdoor-learning.html Many Voices One mind https://www.manyvoicesonemind.ca/ Samples of Language Books - Stand Like Cedar – Nicola Campbell - Metis Series – Fiddle Dancer (dual language book), The Christmas Mittens, Metis New Year and many more) Websites that support First Nation Language/story - Firstvoices.org (each language page has stories, songs and vocabulary to learn) - CBC Kids (great videos on What is a Pow Wow, What is Regalia and many more) Strong Nations: https://www.strongnations.com - Order the Pacific Northwest Plant cards here FNESC (First Nation Education Steering Committee)
Core Competencies and Outdoor Learning with Kelly ShutoKelly Shuto is a K/1 teacher in the Surrey district as well as a k-2 math mentor. She has contributed to our BC curriculum resource site by sharing her in-depth documentation and examples of how the core competencies live in our classrooms. She is also a children’s book author! Her first book, one of my toddler’s favourites, is titled What Does it Mean to be Brave. You will often find her presenting workshops on how to use the core competencies to create a deeper sense of self in the primary grades.
Twitter: @keshuto Instagram: kellyshutobooks and kellyshuto Our British Columbia curriculum has a unique aspect to it. The core competencies are something we do not “assess” but we help guide students to develop them throughout the year. These include persona/social competencies, thinking competencies, and communication competencies. The Core Competencies don’t live on a piece of paper. They live within us. Kelly illustrates how we can use the outdoors as a place to help develop and support our core competencies. Kelly also talks about a fascinating inquiry that her learners investigated this year - “How does the forest act like a family?” How are the trees and roots similar to our support systems that we have in our own families and communities? Kelly is masterful when it comes to documenting student learning so our discussion naturally progressed to talking about how she captures magical moments when she’s outdoors with her learners. Resources: Can You Hear the Trees Talking by Peter Wohlleben Suggested apps to use when documenting learning: Clips PicCollage Shadow Puppets Novelty Nature Note: Kelly shared: How do trees fight? If 2 trees of the same species are beside each other, then the roots will join and exclude the roots of other tree species growing around them. Lauren shared: More than half the tree roots grow within the top 6 inches of the soil. That’s one of the reasons why tree roots grow out laterally so far.
The Secrets of Birds and Plants with Jenna RudolphOur guest today is Jenna Rudolph who is the founder of Soaring Eagle Nature School. We begin our conversation by talking about birds, bird language, and then move onto our local plants.
www.soaringeaglenatureschool.org Jenna recommends choosing 5 local birds and learn their songs, habitats, and what they like to eat. It’s a good idea to select ground feeders so that you’re more likely to see them. We tackle many questions together: Birds: How can we observe and use bird behaviour to tell us what’s happening in our environment? What do bird songs tell us? What about their alarm call? Do birds of different species communicate with one another? What is the relationship between food sources and locations of specific bird species throughout the year? What are the 5 types of bird language? Did you know we can hear better when our ears are off-center? Tilt your head and you can hear better. A lesson we can learn from our local American Robins. Local BC Birds: American Robin, Pacific Wren, Spotted Towhee, Dark Eyed Junco, Song Sparrow. They stay here on the coast all year round. Plants: How can we get our learners more excited to learn about our local plants? What patterns do you see? Which plants produce fruit? Jenna shares an example of using a string of questions to use alongside her learners to help them observe different parts of plants to help identify it. Local BC Plants: Dandelion, Plantain, Salmonberry, Blackberry Novelty Nature Note: Jenna shared her favourite forest tea recipe to make with her learners: Western Hemlock needles, Douglas Fir needles, licorice fern (sweetness!) and salal leaves. Boil and sit for 5 minutes. I shared about thimbleberries. When you pick the red fruit, it leaves behind a core which looks like a thimble.
Week Without Walls with Katherine PorterOur guest tonight is Katherine Porter (@Katporter04) who is a K/1 teacher in the Richmond School District. She is a Reggio-inspired teacher who is passionate about play-based learning. Katherine also loves spending time exploring and learning outdoors. This love for nature has inspired her to take her teaching outside whenever possible. Katherine is excited to continue learning alongside her students and explore what new possibilities lie waiting for outdoor learning.
Kat is organizing her week around the 5 senses. For example, on Day 1 they were inspired by hearing - "Let’s listen to the sounds of nature."
As you listen to Kat talking about her plans for the week and then debriefing after the week was complete, you get a sense of how comfortable she is with taking the lead from her learners and not being too strict with following her lesson plans. A great example of emergent learning!
Novelty Nature Note:
Novelty Nature Note:
Kat shared how she has used dandelions to make tea and shortbreads! With the heat wave we’ve been experiencing in BC, I’ve been reading a lot about how to keep your lawns healthy. Keeping your grass height around 3” will encourage water retention as well as support a deeper root system.
Terra Nova Nature School with Kate and EmilyKate Dawson and Emily Vera are the founders of Terra Nova Nature School. Have you ever wondered about what goes on in a nature preschool?
Terra Nova Website: https://terranovanatureschool.com/programs/preschool/
In this episode, Kate and Emily talk about the intricacies of place-based work and how that plays into their curriculum planning in their outdoor school. They also talk about the delicate balance between planning your lessons and emergent learning and provide a few lovely examples to highlight their work in this area. I was also keen to ask them about the materials they bring with them on their explorations, and they provide many examples of using open-ended materials to promote and support emergent learning. The heart of their message was asking: “How do we explore mysteries with children? What is the core that is captivating our learners?”
EKOLogy with Cheryl and AllisonToday’s episode is about how to utilize the outdoor learning spaces on your schoolgrounds in relation to our BC curriculum. We will also discuss how school districts can support and encourage the adoption of outdoor learning routines.
To help guide our conversation we have two educators from East Kensington Outdoor Learning School or EKOlogy which is a K-5 school in the Surrey District.
They give some great tips on how to utilize your spaces and who you need to have "onboard" to help out.
Alison Leslie is the Vice-Principal and K/1/2 teacher working at East Kensington Elementary Outdoor learning program in SD36. Twitter: @Alimleslie
Cheryl is a passionate advocate for environmental stewardship in education. She has been lead teacher at East Kensington since the inception of the EKOLogy program four years ago, teaching kindergarten, grade 1 & 2. Cheryl is currently the Vice President of SEED36 (Surrey Ecological Educators of District 36) Twitter: @cherleclerc
Novelty Nature Notes:
~Cheryl shared about orca whales near Saturna Island – first whale captured and brought into inner harbours so it could be studied. The Killer Whale that Changed the World book. Allison shared about banana slugs and how their natural mucus has anaesthetic in it – can make your tongue go numb. Yikes!
~I shared about black bears and how they breed every other year, they can have up to 6 cubs who can stay with their moms til about 18 months old. Their tracks have the deepest impression on the outside. This makes sense when you watch them waddle – they really sway from side to side. Whereas most animals and humans – our weight usually falls to the inside of our bodies, rotating in.
Outdoor Learning Goals: A Collaborative Discussion with Carly and AprilToday we have two guests with us today to talk about how this past school year went, what did they learn, and what are the goals that we are looking forward to tackling next year.
Carly Eirikson is a VP at Ecole Herbert Spencer Elementary, In New Westminster, she has her Masters of Education in Special Education and spent 4 years of her career as an educational consultant for POPARD supporting students with autism all over British Columbia. Twitter: @ceirikson Instagram: all_of_us_outside What worked well? Seeing students’ creativity go in unique directions when learning outdoors. Carly also incorporated technology skills when learning in nature. What are your goals next year? Focus on the connection to self, others and place. Story Workshop in connection with the ADST curriculum, especially the design aspect (e.g., Nature Design) What resources will you use to support those goals? Outdoor Learning Store (link here) has so many resources! Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities by David Sobel. Natural Curiosity by Doug Anderson. Engaging Imagination in Ecological Education by Gillian Judson. Adrienne Gear’s Building a Sense of Connection to self, others, community, place through indigenous stories. April Pikkarainen is a VP at Gilmore elementary in Richmond, she has a Masters of Education in Self-Regulated Learning. Her passion is in early learning and nature immersion. Twitter: @april_pikk Instagram: aprilpikkarainen What worked well? Helping kids understand what they need in order to move their learning forward. April uses the framework: what is my job, what are the steps to get my job done, what do I need to do next? She also noticed a deeper connection between learners and the land after visiting the same places repeatedly over the course of the year. What are your goals next year? Nurturing and deepening the learners’ connection to land and re-creating our narrative with our relationship to the land. Professional goal is to focus on having a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion through outdoor learning. What resources will you use to support those goals? Using Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley One Story One Song by Richard Wagamese The Goodness of Rain by Ann Pelo
Outdoor Learning Bins with Sinead Joy and Erin ReidThe start of the year is the perfect time to have this collaborative discussion. How to create outdoor learning bins? How do they support both structured lessons and emergent learning at the same time? What could we include in the bins?
Sinead Joy and Erin Reid are with us today to talk about their experiences in creating and using outdoor learning bins with a mathematical focus. Their school, with the help of funding from Coquitlam District's Numeracy Initiative Project, created 6 outdoor learning bins.
1) Measurement: cloth measuring tapes
2) Number Senses: addition and subtraction focus. Tarps with dots and number values. (e.g., students could throw a bean bag or pinecone and add or subtract that number from their original number).
3) Patterns: included Andy Goldsworthy books and other pictures of nature patterns
4) Financial Literacy: a bin for pricing out the cost for a school garden and also included seed catalogues
5) Visual/Spatial Reasoning and Coding: compass and arrows
6) Number Sense/ Number Lines: twine, clothes pegs and various numbers.
Also included in their teacher wagon: binoculars, clipboards, waterproof pens, large plastic Venn diagram hoops for sorting activities.
School Gardening with Megan ZeniMegan Zeni is a Master Gardener, PhD student and school garden expert who works for the Richmond School District. In today's episode, she shares with us some of her best secrets and tips on how to set up core routines with her learners at the beginning of the year (such as the Waiting Tree, to help with exit and entry transitions!).
Megan is a strong advocate for outdoor learning because it supports learners having a positive growth mindset, develops patience and promotes equity. It allows learners, who may struggle to represent their learning in a “traditional” way, to move freely and make decisions that are best suited for them, which in turn, provides them with more autonomy over their learning,
One of my favourite insights that Megan shares with us is how she explicitly introduces activities that can turn into station work. This gradual release of responsibility highlights how important classroom management strategies are, both indoors and outdoors! Megan also gives us some suggestions on how to use outdoor learning spaces for when fall transitions into winter. Have you ever thought of having a 'Bug Hotel'?! Or a Mud Kitchen – link here. https://meganzeni.com/build-a-mud-kitchen/
Novelty Nature Notes:
I shared about inchworms because I’m just getting covered in them when I go walking in the forest lately. They also go by other names, such as measuring worm, oak looper, leaf roller, and spring cankerworms. I was reading that they are only here for about 4-5 weeks before they burrow into the ground and then we’ll see them again in the fall as geometer moths. Megan shared about growing corn with her learners. They plant POPCORN! Have you ever noticed that each silk thread is attached to a kernel of corn - if there are kernels missing, then the silk wasn't pollinated by a bee!
Playing, Learning and Teaching Outdoors with Manon McPetersHave you ever wondered how to spend an entire day outdoors with your learners? How do you structure your time? What games do you play? What "lessons" can we explore?
To help us dig into these questions, we invited Manon McPeters (from Wilderness Awareness School) back for Part 2! Her passion and creativity for playing, learning and teaching outdoors is palpable! You'll appreciate her vivid description of a "typical" day and how they use Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young to guide their intentions.
My biggest takeaway from speaking with Manon was when she described what "peak fun" is and how we can use that as a classroom management strategy. This notion of reading the flow of our learners' energies is such an important key in how we observe, listen, and respond to the needs of our kids.
Want to learn a new nature game?! Manon gives a great description of how to play blindfold ninja!
Novelty nature note:
Cat has a C shape in negative space. Only one lead toe, not two lead toes. Usually don’t register claws in tracks. All toes can fit into a heel pad. Toes of a dog will NOT fit into heel pad space.
~My novelty nature note was about black bears and how their cubs can weigh less than a pound at birth and gain over 20 pounds in just their first 3 months of life.
Story Workshop in Nature with Alana TesanAlana Tesan is our amazing guest tonight! She is a Kindergarten teacher in the Delta District, BC, Canada
Alana believes that children are natural storytellers. You can find her interview excerpt in the Story Workshop: New Possibilities for Young Writers book by Susan Harris McKay. Story Workshop is a way for learners to explore their imagination and Alana believes that every learner has a story that lives inside them. There is no right or wrong way to engage in storytelling. The possibilities are open, invitational and inclusive. Alana suggests that a key to “success” is to start small and let the kids drive their own stories. By going outdoors, we can also explore stories that live on our land. We can use the materials that we find on our schoolgrounds to help tell our stories. But what else do they take outdoors to support storytelling? Their class has a wagon that is packed full of clipboards, paper, crayons, sharpies and (weather depending) some iPads to help with documentation.
Oral language and communication skills are woven throughout story workshop naturally. Alana was inspired by Kelly Shuto (@kellyshuto and @kellyshutobooks) on how to incorporate core competency language during story workshop explorations.
Novelty Nature Note:
~I shared about Douglas Squirrels who have a high growth rate which means they are constantly chewing to wear down their front teeth. I love this connection to Beavers! ~Alana shared about the book: Can You Hear the Trees Talking? By Peter Wohlleben and how they use an underground root system to communicate with one another.
Natural Dyes with Sara GrahamHave you ever wondered what the benefits are to using natural dyes? Today's episode will help you dip into some colourful lessons and hands-on activities with your learners. Our guest, Sarah Graham, guides us through the
process of natural plant dyeing and tackles questions like:
How does the process work from start to finish?
What is your favourite plant to make a natural dye?
What are your best tips and strategies in terms of classroom management when engaging in these types of lessons?
Sara Graham is an artist based in Port Moody, BC, Canada whose primary concern is with the issues and ideas of the contemporary city. One of her central engagements in her practice is in the mapping of place and how the city and landscape interconnect with our everyday lives. She has been a practicing artist for twenty-three years and exhibited her work across North America. Sara was recently announced as the artist who will create a large-scale public artwork at the new Gordie Howe International Bridge in Ontario. The artwork will be incorporated into the façade of the Energy Complex Building at the Canadian Port of Entry.
Come listen to Sara discuss how to dye with plants and flowers and how we could do, as classroom teachers, engage in other place-based and arts-based lesson ideas afterwards. Enjoy!
Sara Graham Social Media:
Walking Curriculum with Dr. Gillian JudsonOur guest today is Dr. Gillian Judson, assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. She has a passion for looking at imagination’s role in leadership and learning. We discuss what the walking curriculum is and how we can incorporate cognitive tools to help us imaginatively and emotionally engage our learners. Gillian shares some examples of her inquiry questions and how they are used by Kelsey Keller in her intermediate classroom.
Dr. Gillian Judson : Twitter: @perfinker
Blog: www.educationthatinspires.ca Books: Walking Curriculum, Evoking Wonder And Developing Sense of Place (K-1
2) https://amzn.to/318WFIt Engaging Imagination in Ecological Education: Practical Strategies for Teachers https://amzn.to/3relKfG Imagination and the Engaged Learner: Cognitive Tools for the Classroom https://amzn.to/3CWJzuI