Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A New Season


Last week, while many of our friends and families back east were digging their way out from several feet of snow, we here at IslandWood were very fortunate to have a week of mild, mostly dry weather. And for those of us who taught last quarter in what was eventually dubbed "cohort rain," the dry weather came as a much-needed relief.

As the days grow longer, signs of spring creep from within the forest and leave us hoping for more. A single banana slug sighting by grad instructor, Ann, and her field group, was the first in a long while. Meanwhile, several other field groups noticed tiny green buds emerging along the trails. For many field instructors, the first signs of spring provide motivation to try new lessons and activities. I teamed up with my fellow grad instructor, Nick, for a perspective storytelling lesson in the art studio. Both of our field groups sat by the fire as Nick read a collection of short stories told from the perspective of an organism in nature. After this bit of inspiration, the students ventured outside to choose the subject of their own perspective stories. After a bit of exploration time, the students returned to the art studio to begin crafting and illustrating their stories. A group sharing circle revealed that some produced short stories, while others crafted poems, but everyone created truly unique and artistic illustrations. For Nick and me, it was a great opportunity to collaborate and share a teaching experience with each other and all of our students.

Later in the week, after the school groups had said their goodbyes and ventured home, the rest of the grad instructors met for an informal lunch meeting regarding the upcoming spring quarter. One of the options for class credit is to complete an independent study project, or ISP. Taking the place of a traditional class, the ISP is an opportunity to study and create an in-depth project based on your own goals and interests. With assistance from a mentor, grad students can design their own ISP or choose from a list of suggested projects that include working with community organizations and/or other departments within IslandWood to produce a variety of programs and materials for future use. One example is to work with the Boys and Girls Club of King County to develop garden curriculum to be used within a wide range of their youth programming. Opportunities like this and others allows the IslandWood grads to foster relationships within the community while building their skills and knowledge of both formal and informal education and practices.

Cohort C is in the field this week, and due to Presidents' Day will teach for only three days instead of four. But next week Cohort D will return to a full week of teaching another group of lively students. As we progress through the year, we expect no shortage of valuable teaching and learning opportunities. More to come...

5 comments:

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Administrator said...

hooray for perspective storytelling!

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