Friday, December 21, 2012

A Glimpse

Well folks, it's official, last Friday marked the end of our fall quarter. For all but a couple of us, our final days were spent partner teaching with our colleagues. For me, this was an absolute joy as I taught alongside one of my peers while learning, laughing, and loving the additional energy flow. And, while we've all gone our separate ways for the holiday season, IslandWood is ever present in our thoughts as we interact with friends and family who ask, "So, how do you like IslandWood?" or "What is this program you're involved in and do you actually live on an island?" As my lips part, my mind immediately returns to the community of which I am so fortunate to reside.

Being a member of the IslandWood graduate community isn't something that can be easily explained. In fact, I'm not even convinced it can be explained. I think it must be lived in order to truly understand. If you're considering this as a future path, come visit! Take a tour. Follow a field group around for a day. If you can't travel to the campus, contact IslandWood if you'd like to speak with one of us directly. Use us as a resource and if you'd really like to read about something in particular, post a comment on this blog and we'll make it happen!

In lieu of wrapping up our quarter, I wanted to give those outside of the IslandWood graduate community a glimpse into one of our assignments from this past fall.

During the fall quarter we take four classes: Elementary Science Teaching Methods, Natural History & Ecology, Curriculum & Instruction, and Child Growth & Development. While each of these courses is wonderful in its own way, I particularly enjoyed our Child Growth & Development course.

Taught by a former IslandWood EEC graduate student (now a professor at the University of Washington), this course delves into the cognitive processes that shape an child. Throughout the quarter we explore how different theorists explain how these processes take place and the multitude of techniques a parent, guardian, teacher, or role model can implement to assist in a child's development.

A focal assignment for this course was three-fold. First, read a book related to child development. Second, write an annotated bibliography that briefly details the book's contents. Finally, create a poster or other visual display that allows colleagues and professor to experience our book without actually needing to read it.

Imagination Poster
One of IslandWood's EEC graduate students explores the content emphasized in Kieran Egan's book "Imagination In Teaching & Learning: The Middle School Years."

To fully experience David Sobel's "Children's Special Places: Exploring The Role Of Forts, Dens, and Bush Houses In Middle Childhood", graduate students could climb inside of a fort where they could draw or write about their childhood "special place".

Why did I enjoy this assignment? I enjoyed it because I read material I could immediately apply during my teaching weeks. This relationship was ever present throughout the quarter as each week we put our own experiences under the collective microscope to better understand how we can be a more effective educator.

With a new round of classes beginning on January 7th, I'm anxious for another round of mind expansion.

Happy Holidays!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Come One, Come All!

Friday night served host to a variety of wonder as graduate students, staff, friends, family, and beyond gathered within the cozy communal room of Ichthyology Inn. Put on by our very own Jess and Carey, open mic goers filled the room with anxious anticipation. And, shortly after 7:00 p.m., poems, stories, jokes, songs, and fabulous sharings created an evening of absolute delight.

Carey at the helm inviting up the next dazzling act.

This preliminary Open Mic was a test of sorts but rest assured, another fantastic evening will occur during our winter quarter. We'll be sure the pertinent logistical information is put forth in advance, so please come join us!

Until then... What will you perform?


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nature Journaling

Recently, IslandWood was fortunate to host Artist In Residence, Maria Corywell-Martin. Maria is passionate about expeditionary artwork and the practice of nature journaling.

In her own words, "Maria Corywell-Martin works in the tradition of traveling artists as naturalists and educators as she accompanies scientific teams on research expeditions. In the field, Maria sketches with ink and watercolor and collects multimedia recordings to build her palette of place, a record of experience, climate, and color. She develops this work into studio paintings for exhibit, as well as presentations and workshops for audiences of all ages to promote observation, scientific inquiry, and environmental awareness."

During her time at IslandWood Maria facilitated multiple workshops that included IslandWood staff, faculty, and graduate students, as well as four lucky groups of visiting School Overnight Program students.

Maria explaining her craft to a group of IslandWood's graduate students during their professional development seminar.

Her workshops provided a thorough exploration of nature journaling and its historical progression. Additionally, she guided participants through the creation of their own personal journal and then led them into the outdoors where their journals were quickly put to use.

One of IslandWood's EEC Graduate students hard at work on her nature journal.

I was teaching for the week that Maria visited and my students were able to participate in one of her nature journaling sessions. They enthusiastically pushed on through the chilly afternoon air and in the end each left with a newly acquired craft.

Student Nature Journal
 A sample nature journal created by a visiting 5th grade student.

Maria was patient, kind, and ever enthusiastic as each individual carefully documented their observations. And, in the end she left us with one final piece of insight; "a creative mind if never bored."

We are incredibly grateful to Maria for the time she spent at IslandWood. If you would like to see more of her amazing expeditionary art, please visit


Sunday, November 4, 2012


Howl-O-Ween at IslandWood has come and gone this year,
Yet photographs and memories will forever remain clear.
No candy is needed in a place such as this covered in lichens and moss,
Where each child's mind becomes the driver ensuring no moment is lost.

Rain or shine the moods of grads would simply not diminish,
Until each child who left IslandWood held smile at the finish.


Through costumes clad these info sharers delved into the woods,
Sharing that energy brought with them from embraced childhoods.

As waves were exchanged from teacher to pupil a final focus remained,
When and where would the dance take place for which so many had trained.

The Great Hall filled with enthusiasm and angst from a most excited crew,
Who ensued upon Winslow's main street pavement to pay MJ his due.

As foot step sounds filled the streets of this wonderful harbor town,
A flash mob of Thriller zombies began their reign over those around.

They moved left and they moved right fully committed to the act,
Yet five minutes later the crowd dispersed never to come back.


And so we bid you adieu until one year from now,
When Halloween returns and another grad class creates that wowful wow.


Monday, October 22, 2012

And Now, The Moment You've All Been Waiting For...

Chloe & Riley

Chloe and Riley here, hailing from IslandWood's EEC Class of 2013. We've taken the reins of this blog and cannot wait to serve as your source for the most up to date EEC happenings. Please visit each week as we re-cap everything IslandWood EEC. Expect thrill, suspense, inspiration, humor, and a whole lot more!

We want to write about what you want to read about! If there is something you are especially interested in, let us know in the comments section! We'll do our best to give you what you want while still reserving the right to embrace our ridiculousness and creativity.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Chloe & Riley

Friday, June 29, 2012

Get to Know a Grad and the Marsh Loop Trail

Mashawn Butler takes you to her sitting spot: the Marsh Loop Trail (a favorite of many at IslandWood). She also shares her passion for instructing minority students and being a role model.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Get to Know a Grad and the Bog Treehouse

Melaney Mayne gives you a tour of IslandWood's Bog Treehouse, reflects on her teaching this past year, and sings you a West African welcome song.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Get to Know a Grad and the Art Studio Wildzone

The post-graduation audio treats continue. Today we feature Eboni Cooper who takes us to her favorite spot on campus, the Art Studio's wild zone. She also reflects on her teaching this past year.

This profile was recorded a week before graduation. Stay tuned for three more profiles featured later this week.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Get to Know a Grad and the Floating Classroom

The following audio recording is part of our "Get to Know a Grad" series. This profile was recorded a week before graduation. So here's a post-graduation treat. Stay tuned for four more grad (ahem... alum) profiles, which we'll feature each day this week.

Caitlin Bunnell takes us on a tour of the IslandWood's floating classroom at Mac's Pond, one of her favorite places to teach and reflect.

Enjoy the boat ride!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Get to know a grad!

Our adventurous Catie Clune takes us owling through IslandWood’s Mist Net north and south trails to track resident barred owl Gus or his partner with owlettes. You’ll learn about Catie’s interest in continuing to teach outdoors, the birding skills she’s learned while at IslandWood, and a little bit about IslandWood’s history with Gus. Spoiler alert! She finds Gus! Happy owling! 

Extra photos shared by Catie below. Catie, Liz (featured in blog last fall), Caitlin, Sarah (featured earlier this year) and Issana meet Gus' only owlette this year during the owlette's banding a few days after Catie took us owling. 

A closer look at owl expert Jamie Acker banding owlette. :) 

Healthy and CUTE baby! 

Mama stays close to look over her young one.

Babe kisses babe!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Get to know a grad!

Meet Michael Rawlins! He enjoys the freedom IslandWood offers to facilitate and develop lessons plans around his interests: forestry, food, and culture. As a native Washingtonian, Michael is having fun learning more about the flora and fauna with which he grew up and exploring them with a fresh perspective after being away for nearly 10 years.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Get to know a grad!

Abigail Trajtenberg loves to incorporate art and science into her teaching. In this audio snapshot, we have the pleasure of hearing Abigail read a couple of pages from a book she wrote about different learning styles. Check back again later this week for photos of her book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Time to Play with Your Food!

This past week, artist Michiko Olson joined us at IslandWood to teach about Japanese history, art, and food in the most engaging ways! Grads and 6th graders alike learned how to act in the Kabuki theater style, how to express ourselves through food by making “our world” in a bento box, and about how nature heavily influences Japanese culture.

On Monday night, the grads gathered for a professional development session with Michiko. The highlight of the night was certainly creating art with fresh veggies and rice. We were eager to show off our creations but even more eager to eat them!

When our students joined in the fun, they loved designing and painting their own Kabuki masks (on paper, of course!) and acting as merchants and samurais (with swords!). Like the grads, making art with their food was the crowning jewel of their experience! Enjoy these pictures from a great week with Michiko.
Michiko teaching us how to write in Japanese
 Decorating our Kabuki masks
Food + art = awesome
 Abigail's rice creation
 Time for the kids to try
 Having fun
 Beautiful food art
 Cute little rice mouse
 Dancing Kabuki style

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Grads' IslandWood Science Fair

This week, as our winter classes come to a close, we pause to celebrate. The other night, we shared our natural history projects in good old science fair format, teaching each other about the various topics we have become experts on since the early fall. In October, we all identified our own area of study based on personal interests. From then, with the support of our teachers Greg and Stan, we researched, conducted field investigations, analyzed, and concluded. It was true joy to celebrate with each other the work we have done and, more importantly, the knowledge and skills we have gained. But don’t just take this blogger’s word for it…here is what our dedicated teachers had to say!

Greg said: “Last year when I was tasked with creating a new assignment for this course I simply wanted to create space for our graduate students to deeply explore a topic of their choice as it relates to the IslandWood landscape in a way that utilizes the scholarship of the scientific community and the experiences that come with studying nature outside.  The quality of work that was generated this year was exceptional.  Visiting with all of my students and hearing good stories during the ‘science fair’ has been a highlight of my year.”

Stan added: “This is what inquiry-based science is all about. The quality of the group’s diverse research questions, the creative processes that went into answering those questions through research design and the collection of pertinent data, and the interpretation of the results, in short, blew me away.  

The collective results of this effort and the contributions to future curricula, place-based content or just some fun teachable moments on the trail, will be felt at IslandWood for a long time.

In my mind, there are few things more rewarding than nurturing the ability to come up with a good solid research question, and answering that question through diligent fieldwork. Hats off to the entire class!”

Kudos to all of the grads on a job well done! 
 Ted teaches Stan about collecting the sounds of the landscape
 Michael stands proudly in front of his project about the history of fires at IslandWood
 Selena teaches Greg about invasive plants in IslandWood wild zones
 Catie displays her findings about tracking IslandWood's mammals
 Cohort D teaches Cohort C all about their projects
 Eboni teaches Yi-Chuan about nurse logs and stumps
Lily shows off her study of forest fungi

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Visit to Wilderness Awareness School

As the final part of our three-part outdoor educator exchange, we headed to the Wilderness Awareness School (WAS) in Duvall, Washington last weekend. Some of us braved the cold and snow (!) in our tents, others stayed cozy in the heated yurt, and all had a great time full of new learning and explorations. We shared many experiences together, including deciphering the complex world of bird language, teaching through storytelling, embarking on adventurous night hikes, and navigating the landscape. Another new experience was all about making fire! Led by a few WAS apprentices, a group of grads learned how to create their own bow drills using found wood in the forest. Three hours whizzed by as we whittled, carved, and singed our creations. Hoping to one day spark a fire using our new tools, we proudly toted them home along with wonderful memories of a great weekend. 

 Building the fire from an ember created by a bow drill (rubbing wood together)
 Tending to the fire
 Julia chopping wood
 Yi-Chuan cutting a piece of wood for his fireboard
 Liz sawing into a piece of cedar
 Stacey creating her fireboard
 Cozy and warm in the Cedar Lodge after a long day

Monday, February 6, 2012

Life as an IslandWood EEC Grad

This weekend, over 70 IslandWood alumni returned to this fabulous place for the IslandWood EEC alumni weekend. It was a chance to reconnect, enjoy delicious food, play trivia, rediscover the winding trails, and much more. This year’s alumni, representing eight different years of graduate students, enjoyed a time of reflection and celebration of life as a grad and beyond.
 Old grads and future (?) grad
 Blair was a great Trivia Night host!
 New discoveries on old trails

As the events unfolded, it was clear that each past class has been very unique: from the class of 2009, who was the first to climb the Canopy Tower, to the class of 2004, who had the highest boy-girl ratio, to the class of 2003, the first to be officially referred to as “EEC Grads.”

Well in our winter quarter as the class of 2012, what will we be known for? Only time will tell. For now, enjoy the slide show below: a visual tour of the experience as an EEC grad from our point of view.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Get to know a grad!

What a musical group of grad students we're learning we have! This is an episode of our series of audio snapshots featuring grad students. Today the spotlight is on Sarah Berkley! In addition to sharing a bit about her journey and goals, Sarah serenades us to a special IslandWood song we instructors sing to our students at the end of their weeks. The fact is we should also serenade Sarah today because it's her birthday! Happy birthday, Sarah! Listeners, enjoy her voice!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Get to know a grad!

This is the second episode in a series of audio snapshots of our grad students. Meet Brian Marienfeld! Brian rocks out with his trumpet and banjo AND tells us a little bit about himself. What a treat! Enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snowed In

Because of our glorious three-day weekend in the North Cascades, sparkly white snow was certainly in our hearts and on our minds. There is something entirely magical about a thick, white blanket of snow enveloping the landscape—perhaps it’s the soft silence that it provides, the beauty and uniqueness in each flake, or the prospect of snow angel making. Whatever the fascination, snow was in our conversations and Mother Nature listened. Over the past few days, about six inches of fluffy powder fell on Bainbridge Island, transforming IslandWood into a true winter wonderland. Because of the already green, lush forest, the snow-blanketed woods were more inviting than ever. And, the grads weren’t the only ones who rejoiced in this change of weather: we were joined by a group of 5th and 6th grade students from the Seattle area. Our first student group in the snow, favorite activities of the week included tracking animals and discovering that birds do leave footprints in the snow, unearthing mushrooms on rotting logs under layers of snow and ice, and taking wintery strolls down the Spine Trail. As a special bonus, giving 100 10-year-olds a dream come true, they were snowed in and had to stay an extra night. Before the Seattle rain washed it all away, we snapped some pictures of this magical time on campus.  
 Arriving on campus to snow!
 The snowy Spine Trail
 A wintery walk in the woods
 The grads built a fort!
 Snow-covered grad cabins
  "It heaps its powdery
Crystal flakes,
Of every tree
A mountain makes"
-From Snow by Walter de la Mare

Heading to the Mountains

To close out the fall quarter, in December grads from North Cascades Institute (NCI) and Wilderness Awareness School (WAS) came to IslandWood for a three-day professional development conference to learn from and share with each other. All outdoor educators, we swapped songs to use in the field, exchanged creative lesson ideas, and explored IslandWood’s ecosystems. Last weekend, the same group congregated in the beautiful North Cascades, with the NCI grads as our gracious hosts. Their campus had just experienced the first snowfall of the winter, and arriving to this winter wonderland was purely “magical.” For three cozy days, we enjoyed the snow-capped landscape and company of fellow outdoor educators, where highlights included mountainous hikes, discovering cougar tracks in the snow, and venturing to Diablo Lake. We all benefitted from a mountainous getaway with some new friends in many ways, including the following:

“It was great to have some time for longer conversations with WAS and NCI students.  We share so many similarities and have so much to learn from each other; I only wish we had been there for a few more days to connect.  WAS students have some amazing wildlife stories and I learned a lot about the Cascades and Skagit River valley from NCI grads.” –Selena

“Being outside in the snow helped me get in a relaxed mindset. I became more comfortable in the snow, which I needed when teaching in the snowstorm at IslandWood this week.” –Lily

“It was nice to spend more time hanging out with the NCI and WAS grads, playing games at night and getting to know them a bit more on a personal level.” –Liz
  From the lookout on Diablo East hike, looking down on Diablo Lake under the Seattle City Light power lines. 
 A breathtaking mountain view from Ted
 Hiking in the mountains
 Eating lunch by the lake
 Gazing at the beautiful view