Posted in From the Field, PEI on August 24, 2011 |
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Jane Ulrich, the teacher who went to Washington DC with Pat Otto and PLT this summer, teaches 4th grade at Sunny Hills Elementary in Issaquah, Washington. As we are fast approaching the new school year, it seems like the right time to talk about one of the projects that Jane uses in her classroom. Jane works with students every year on a science, photography and poetry unit, which she describes below:
I teach haiku poetry to inspire students to connect with their emotions when writing about something they have photographed in nature. I use photography with my students across the core curriculum, but especially in the area of science. To improve observational skills, using the camera has been a very successful avenue. To integrate haiku with photography during outdoor science investigations, in particular, I see my students develop an interest to care for and protect those outdoor classrooms in which they work. As one of my former students said at his fifth grade graduation this year, “The best place to be at school is in the garden.”
The photo and haiku below were framed and presented to the senators and representatives that Jane and Pat visited while in Washington DC.
Standing all alone,
Watching skiers pass along
Blending with the snow.
Nicholas Jennings, 4th Grade
Mrs. Ulrich’s Class
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How do you perform science experiments in a forest? What about in the ocean? There are multiple variables that can’t be controlled, and the traditional Scientific Method that we learned in school doesn’t explain how it works. But biologists are doing science outdoors every day!
When the Pacific Education Institute (PEI) realized that field science had not been described, we began looking at what happens when scientists research outdoors. PEI determined that scientific field studies, or Field Investigations, could be categorized into three levels. The first level of study, the most basic, is the Descriptive Investigation, a process through which individuals observe what is in the environment and describe it in detail. The next level is the Comparative Investigation, involving the comparison of variables in time or space. The third, and most complex, form of field study is the Correlative Investigation. This type of Field Investigation focuses on the relationships and patterns between variables. Take a look at the table below for examples of the types of questions you would ask for each of the Field Investigations:
Descriptive, Comparative and Correlative Questions
In 2007 PEI created a guide describing the field science process, called Field Investigations: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Processes. Since then, Field Investigations have been adopted by multiple state Departments of Education, including Washington, and the model is included in state science standards.
In addition, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) has come out with a Conservation Education Toolkit, and the Field Investigation Guide is a key part of it. To find out more, take a look at AFWA’s CE toolkit, where you can download the guide for free.
Field Investigation Guide
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Last week PEI consultant and Washington State Project Learning Tree Co-Coordinator Pat Otto visited Washington D.C. to chat with Washington Senators and Representatives. Here’s her story of the trip:
Washington State Project Learning Tree (PLT) goes to the other Washington to participate in National Project Learning Tree’s first Fly-in!
What a once in a lifetime experience! I never thought I would get to speak personally about my passion for environmental education and getting kids outside with our State Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, but that is exactly what Jane Ulrich and I did in Washington DC on July 27th. The American Forest Foundation and National Project Learning Tree brought Jane (a fourth grade teacher from Issaquah) and me to Washington DC to inform our senators and representatives (Dave Reichert and Adam Smith) of the importance of environment and sustainability education and garner their support for the No Child Left Inside Act that has been recently reintroduced to the Congress.
Pat Otto and Jane Ulrich outside the Senate Building
We shared success stories about using Project Learning Tree lessons with students and how student engagement increases with outdoor instruction. Jane has seen how her students, interacting with the natural environment through science investigations in their school native garden and lower forest classrooms, have come to appreciate those natural spaces. She has seen that growing appreciation bring a desire to nurture and protect. Further, Jane does black and white photography with her students. She presented our senators and representatives with a gift of a 4th grader’s photograph with their Haiku. All were amazed at the talent and insight of the 4th grade students.
We got to meet with both senators during their constituent coffees and let them know our appreciation of their past support for the environment and our concerns. Patty Murray is a co-sponsor for the No Child Left Inside Act and both she and Maria Cantwell have been strong supporters of the environment. We also had scheduled appointments to talk with a legislative assistant from each senator’s office and each of our representative offices as well. The senators and all four legislative assistants were amazing people to talk with. They all had tremendous interest and asked great questions, making us feel welcomed and listened to.
Jane Ulrich and Pat Otto at Patty Murray's office
The American Forest Foundation and Project Learning Tree staff provided us with wonderful support throughout. On Tuesday they helped us prep for Wednesday by providing information on each person we would be meeting with as well as points for successful story telling: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, and emotional. On Wednesday two very competent and warm staffers, Jackie Stallard and Melissa Harden joined us as we talked with the senators and legislative assistants.
Pat Otto with Jackie Stallard and Melissa Harden
This has been a definite highlight of my time as the PLT coordinator for Washington State!
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Posted in PEI on August 1, 2011 |
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Welcome to the Pacific Education Institute‘s first blog post! We have a lot to talk about, like getting students outdoors, project based learning, increasing engagement, giving teachers the tools to improve their practice and stay engaged themselves, integrating real world science, meeting standards and so much more. With all this to share, we decided that a blog would be a great place to start.
PEI’s vision is to engage students in real world learning. We do that by training and supporting schools and teachers, and connecting them to local organizations and businesses. The best way to sustain our environment and economy is by educating our students to be socially and scientifically literate citizens.
My name is Breanna Trygg, and I am the Environmental Education Program Coordinator at PEI. I will be posting regularly to the blog, but keep an eye out for posts from our co-Executive Director, Margaret Tudor. We will also get stories and information from our consultants in the field as they work with teachers and school districts. Keep checking back, and let us know what you’d like to hear about.
Here’s to our new venture!
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