Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ecosystem stuff

The above 5th-grader-penned sentence from an IslandWood assessment worksheet reads: "I think you people were trying to disguise learning about life by learning about ecosystem stuff."

When Susan, a Cohort A IslandWood grad, read this quote aloud at a recent Thursday post-SOP (School Overnight Program) debrief lunch to fellow IslandWood instructors and staff, we all gasped and applauded in appreciation. This kid has it exactly right! We are trying to teach them about life. This perceptive young student not only seemed to have learned something here, but also keenly sensed what the point of it all is. We've been found out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The rain in the forest

IslandWood is getting soggier, that's for sure. November did not fail to blast us with rain from its very start. Last week, Adams Elementary and Madrona K-8, both of Seattle, came and saw and experienced IslandWood. We had our first really wet days; but I'd like to say that not only did the drizzle not damper our spirits, I'd venture to say it raised them. Here's a photo of my group, Team Wave, on the Learning Tree (our accessible treehouse), where we were surrounded by the heavy boughs of each of the five predominant native tree species of IslandWood. As I was reviewing some of the photos from the week, I was struck by how beautiful the scene looks; with the autumn-yellow Maple leaves stitched in with the lush Hemlock needles. It made me realize again that when kids see this for the first time, perhaps they are similarly struck with appreciation or awe. We visited this spot pretty much first thing on Monday, after their long trek here by bus, ferry, and bus again. At this point, two months into my stay here, the sights of IslandWood are more usual and unsurprising to me. But what must the kids feel and wonder about when they take this in for the first time? I feel like there's no way to know, but I hope it at least subconsciously made them feel good about being in this place for the next three days. I hope it put them a little more at ease about being so far from home, and made them eager to learn and see more.