Monday, November 1, 2010

A Glimpse Into SOP!

Kathie gets kids pumped at the Pond Shelter.
The heart of the EEC program and the most valuable learning experience for us as educators in the field comes in the form of The School Overnight Program. (Or, as our acronym laden world calls it: SOP) SOP is pure craziness. From Monday-Thursday every week until June, between 50 and 200 kids rule campus. At any given moment you can hear instructors and kids singing songs on the trail, catch a glimpse of a kid neatly disguised by a huge sword fern during a game of Camouflage, or spot a team proudly displaying marks of victory from our famed Lightning Tree after success on the teams course. The grad class is divided into two groups. Until December we are Cohort A (Awesome) and Cohort B (Bomb Diggity!).

Smiling faces on the Suspension Bridge
Our first SOP experience as instructors was through team teaching. Here, two grads took on the week with six to 12 kids in tow, teaching them all about the ecosystem here at IslandWood. Since that first week, we have been able to run our own show (with much guidance and help from one another and the Ed staff). We have encountered feelings of pure joy and happiness, but have also been tested and frazzled on certain days. Cohort A has rocked it twice, proudly finishing their second week this past Thursday. Today, Cohort B welcomes fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from First Place School, View Ridge, and Terrace Park.

Blake and Ashley debrief Owls, Mice, and Seeds
While every instructor’s style and plan differs, there are many common themes set forth throughout the week. (Prepare for more acronyms…) We
introduce students to the ABC’s and the LAWS of nature. While using inquiry and engaging the kids in fun activities, we teach about the abiotic factors in nature (L=light, A=air, W=water, S=soil) that allow biota to exist. We point out the many cultural influences affecting the things in either category, and expand on these concepts each day by participating in garden activities, exploring macro invertebrates from the pond or soil, visiting historically rich Blakely Harbor and Blakely Cemetery, letting kids teach one another about the various plants and trees on the island with the help of Each One Teach One cards, or by playing an action packed game of Owls, Mice, and Seeds. This list barely makes a dent in the amazing IslandWood curriculum we are able to offer the students who visit, but includes some of the popular choices among instructors.
Meet-a-Tree in action

We keep the kids busy up until they depart on Thursday afternoon, and make the most of their time here not only by having them out in the field each day from 9:30 to 4pm, but by engaging them in nighttime activities as well. Kids go on night hikes, where you can experience anything from learning about the fascinating phenomenon of triboluminescence to hearing the amazing sounds of sea lions all the way from the harbor. Students also participate in nighttime activities indoors, breaking into groups to engage in an action packed Ecological Challenge or a fun and unique Science Fair. On Wednesday night, everyone gathers for a campfire at the Friendship Circle where students (and instructors) sing songs, perform skits, play instruments, tell jokes, dance, or in some cases, do a combination of all these things.

[Maybe a bit much...] Lightening Tree face-paint
When you are not teaching, you have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday  (Thursday and Friday we ALL have class) free to visit schools that you will be a liaison for. Liaisons build relationships with schools coming to IslandWood and get them pumped for their SOP experience. Liaisons usually do not teach the week their schools come to IslandWood. They are doing such other things as attending to frantic calls on the radio for a “Code Yellow” (use your imagination), redirecting mildly lost groups, handing out special dietary meals during dinner, or juggling anything else that you can imagine to make sure the week runs smoothly. This week one of the three liaisons decided to shave her head and reveal it during the debrief lunch for a “jaw dropping!” moment that they had been talking about throughout the week. This is a perfect example of how unpredictable things can get here at IslandWood. Bonnie will follow up on this with next week’s entry, which will be all about the fun stuff we get up to when we are not teaching, taking classes, or complaining about the endless mounds of reading and assignments that we are putting off.
Danny preps Clarissa for the "jaw dropping" moment at the SOP Debrief lunch.

1 comment:

Priscilla said...

Wow, who is the chick with the jaw dropping mohawk? She must be amazing.