Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Are You a Tourist or Resident?

In early September, we were given a tourist test in our Ecology and Natural history class.  It was a simple test, and it succeeded in opening our eyes to our lack of knowledge of our natural surroundings. 

Take the test for yourself to see what you know:

  1. Name the shrub nearest to your front door.
  2. What are the trees you can see from your door?
  3. What direction does your window face?  Your bed?
  4. What is the current moon phase?
  5. What plants or animals here (or in your area) may hurt you?
  6. What species of trees would you want to avoid in a wind storm?
  7. What /where is the nearest stream/creek from your front door?
  8. List the trees and plants here (or in your area) that you can identify with confidence.
  9. Write a service that those species provide.
  10. List the birds and wildlife that you can identify with confidence.

When I first answered these questions, I listed “unknown” for six of the ten questions, but after several months at Islandwood, I have significantly more detailed answers to provide to each question.  Knowing the answers isn't the real eye opener though; it is the realization that there is an abundance of diversity around us. 

Being more knowledgeable led to an unexpected increase in awareness and understanding about the network of life around our human communities.  I already sought to protect the earth, but now I had more connection because the earth was taking a specific and personal shape.  Suddenly, there weren't just trees. There were Red Aldors, Big Leaf Maples, Redcedars, Western Hemlocks, and Douglas Firs, and they did more than generically provide shade and shelter because they have unique characteristics that distinguish them from one another.

This is where stewardship arises.  Once the connection between the natural world and the cultural world is found, stewardship has meaning.  Islandwood has done a lot to help me build the bridge between my world and the natural world, and the word stewardship carries more weight as an accomplishable action rather than a fantastic ideal.  


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Why Community Building Matters in Education

Why would community building matter for education? This answer is two-fold because the community that the educator is part of should be just as valuable and rich as the one the students are part of in school.  An emotionally safe environment that allows intellectual risk taking can lead to amazing knowledge construction and discovery, but these environments must be created and nurtured as communities.
The experiences at Islandwood have taught me a lot about the power held in the community.  It came almost as an epiphany this season as I watched Christmas movies, and I realized that Scrooge and the Grinch lacked empathy, community, sense of place, personal connections, and morals.  As they stayed in isolation, sure of their superiority compared to the interconnected people around them, they drifted further away from society and deeper into egocentrism and misery.  It was only after they connected with others that they found happiness, and for education that’s big news since the brain is primed for learning when it is happy, safe, and has purpose. 

I used to think that communities organically arose from student interaction, but I did not credit the immense intentionality behind collaborative and social-emotional learning until Islandwood gave me students in the field.  Suddenly I realized that there were only four days to get a team to accomplish goals that required a cooperative cohesiveness. 

The community agreement, the team building, and the socialization all gave the instruction meaning and personal connection.  There were also the intangible lessons that could not be explicitly taught like empathy, moral development, social skills, democracy, and societal roles.  These skills all have enduring understanding applicable to any area of life or subject in school.

Not only do field instructors see the evolution of community within their students in the short span of a week, we live it as graduate students.  We see Bandura’s, Piaget’s, and Vygotsky’s theories about cooperative and collaborative socialization among peers come to life as we create our own community agreement, have community check-in, debate in class, bounce ideas off one another, discuss findings, and work together. 

Without the community, we would not be as strong of educators and our students would not achieve their highest potential.  


Monday, December 16, 2013

Winter at IslandWood

Hi friends,

Thankfully, the weather has warmed back up for our last teaching week this quarter! Winter certainly payed us all a visit a few weeks ago. It was freezing! The students and instructors were champions though (thank you gear volunteers) and it was exciting to see the landscape change so dramatically with the cold weather. The frost filled mornings and icy evenings were spectacular!

As the temperature probably won't dip down like that again for a while, I wanted to share some fun photos highlighting our winter wonderland experience!  

It snowed, and even stuck on the ground for a few hours! The understory was breathtaking with the white dusting.  

Mac's Pond froze over too! So much for the pond investigation and floating classroom.... But on the bright side, who knew that rocks made such an awesome sound skating across frozen ice?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Celebrating Gratitude!

As I settled back into my cabin in the woods yesterday, I took a few moments to reflect on what I am grateful for. My family and friends, the hug from my roommate, my Natural History class, the kale growing in the garden, the crisp sunshine sparkling on the frosty grass outside my door …

The list goes on. I have so much to appreciate, especially here at IslandWood. And although it is the season of giving thanks, as my Child Development professor shared with us a few weeks ago, practicing gratitude is an important ritual that should be cultivated throughout the year. It actually scientifically proven to make you happier! And healthier!

As the days get darker and the quarter gets busier, I want to remind us all how important it is keep in mind all of the things that bring us joy. Here are some amazing resources that have been really helpful to me in shaping my practice:

·      Check out The Greater Good Science Center at University of Berkeley. There is a database with articles and resources to help build gratitude both on an individual level but also in the classroom, and also has resources for other topics mindfulness, empathy, compassion and happiness.

·      Gratitude is contagious! Share your thanks and appreciate all of the good taking place around the world by using the World Gratitude Map.

·      Explore Yes! Magazine’s Teacher Resources for teaching happiness, resiliency, and community.

·      Keep a gratitude journal!

How do you cultivate gratitude and happiness? Post your comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Day in Kelvin's Team

A small team of children come running toward their instructor as a response to his coyote call, and once they all reach him, they lift their heads to the sky to deliver a group howl. 

Kelvin is leading a team of seven elementary school students to the Creaky Tree Meadow this cloudy October morning.  The team is smiling and responsive to his varied forms of attention grabbers, and as Kelvin puts his finger on the tip of his nose, they copy him and wait for the rules of the game.

“Where’s my baby?” Kelvin introduces the activity.  The team can only move when his back is towards them, and they must freeze once he turns to face them.  The task is for every person on the team to have touched the “baby” before returning to the starting position without being caught holding the stuffed animal.  

The team was unsuccessful in accomplishing the task the first time since only one person touched the stuffed animal.  Under the mediation of their instructor, the team circled up without Kelvin to discuss a strategy for success, and they had as much time as they needed to construct a solution.  The students were acquiring valuable skills for strategizing, compromising, communicating, and learning to figure out the answer for themselves.  After the third attempt, there were cheers of excitement from the team as they gathered their gear to move to the next location.  Kelvin ran off ahead of them, “Last one’s a rotten egg!”

The team hiked through their classroom, along a trail covered in big leaf maple tree leaves that crunched under their boots.  Their class was full of abundant sword ferns, lichen covered red alders, moss covered nurse logs, fruitless evergreen huckleberries, umbrella-like redcedars, drooping western hemlocks, short stinging nettles, and so much more.

This was the classroom Kelvin had transitioned to during graduate school.  He kept the students, but traded the desks for trees, the ESL books for field guides, the predictable schedule for adventure, the boxed classroom for 255 acres of forest, the direct instruction for mediation, and the passing period for hikes along trails full of teachable moments.  He was helping students reach their potential on their own terms and in their own time while in a setting they could truly engage in.
Kelvin has a strong conviction that educators can have the most impact when they see the world through the student’s eyes, and one of the most effective ways to meet them on the same level is to build a community around them.  He strongly believes that a community is the ideal environment to cultivate leadership skills, preserve culture, and foster valuable relationships.  This is what we do at Islandwood, we are a community of educators seeking to improve the lives of the children who visit us rather than simply impart knowledge unto them.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The holidays are upon us ....

Living in the woods, it is easy to forget about rampant consumerism that takes hold of our country this time of year. There are no TVs, strip malls, or huge chain stores plastered with ads and bright lights.  Instead, I know that November is upon us because of the chill in the air, the early sunset, the apple cider and the piles of leaves that I shuffle through on my daily walk to class.

So, I suppose it is my lack of awareness which made this Toys “R” Us advertisement especially infuriating to me. The ad features an elementary school class piling onto a bus labeled “Save the Trees.” The guide, dressed up as a forest ranger, tells the students that they are about to embark on “the best field trip ever!” But as he teaches about leaves and trees, kids start to yawn and fall asleep. The guide then suddenly rips off his ranger costume and reveals a Toys “ R” Us uniform. Psych! Instead of going on a field trip to the woods, the kids get dropped off at the massive chain toy store. Celebration and chaos ensues as the kids rampage the store buying everything that they want.

After watching it, my immediate reaction was that it had to be a joke. It disgusted me on so many levels. But, it is not a joke. It is a very real advertisement with a very skewed, tragic view on our nations’ young people.  It assumes that nature is boring and that children hate science. Which, in my experience, is a very misinformed view. 

 Every week, I am blessed with the opportunity to get outside and teach experientially about science and nature. For many of my students, IslandWood is their first experience with the outdoors. The mysterious call of an owl, the bright light of the moon, the sweet taste of a foraged blackberry or the sudden sight of a deer inspires wonder and magic, it sparks curiosity and excitement. Many of them leave IslandWood saying that they will never forget what they learned here.

 I am so proud of the work that my colleagues and I do here at IslandWood.We work incredibly hard to inspire a love of nature and stewardship in our students. And across the country, there are thousands of other dedicated educators working to empower their students with critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, inquiry, and imagination through the sciences. It is incredibly important work that deserves far more respect than the Toys “R” Us marketing team is giving us.

 So this holiday season starts, I urge you to share gifts that are made responsibly, with love and care. Challenge the ads, move past plastics and take your loved ones on an adventure outside. I promise the experience will last longer than the toy they get from Toys “R” Us. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nature Sense

Think about chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven.  What immediately filled your senses when you read the previous statement?  I thought of warm cookies full of delicious gooey chocolate chips flavoring the house with the scent of sweet brown sugar.  Now, imagine you’re at a crowded party with dozens of people talking around you.  The noise is loud enough to require a raised voice when speaking to the person next to you.  Would you be able to hear the voice of a close relative or spouse from across the room?  Our senses are powerful tools used daily as we journey through life.

We experience the world through our senses, and we find meaning through the connection between the environment and our senses.  This is why Islandwood is such a powerful educational program for young students.  We go beyond the Googled images of flora and fauna they see on PowerPoints in desk lined classrooms.  We adventure through surroundings full of rich sensory moments.

During the blindfolded portion of the night hike through the forest, students enter a realm of complete darkness without the security of a flashlight.  Students feel the trail with their feet, listen to the sounds of nocturnal creatures, hold the shoulders of the person in front of them, and navigate an unfamiliar world by truly experiencing it in a way that a video game, movie, or song can’t provide.  This challenge forces students to face difficult emotions around fear, trust, curiosity, and accomplishment, but it would not be effective without the full immersion through the senses. 

While the night hike is a strong favorite for a lot of students, it isn't the only means by which we connect the student to the outdoors through senses.  While walking on the many trails of Islandwood there is a variety of edible plants available to entice the students’ palates.  Excitement is evident as students anxiously taste stinging nettle, pickle weed, licorice fern, huckleberry, and blackberry.

Solo walks through the woods often result in students touching the surprisingly warm soil, hugging a sturdy tree, feeling the carpet-like moss, listening to a pileated woodpecker drumming, smelling the pungent Stinky Bob, sound mapping the chatty song birds, and admiring the many shades of green that really do exist in nature. 

Would you rather learn about the environment by adventuring through the forest with all your senses alerted to the potentially changing world around you, or would you rather do a Google search for beautifully crafted yet forgettable images that have no significant meaning?  We begin our life exploring the world almost exclusively through sensory motor skills, and during that time, we learn a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge.  Embrace the world through your eyes, but don’t forget to stimulate your ears, tongue, skin, and nose because it is only when you fully immerse yourself that you make meaningful connections.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from IslandWood! 

Here is Clancy showing us the power of silence and wait time while asking students questions, with a bit of Halloween flavor! 

A few of the amazing EEC instructors prepping for their teaching day! 

And an awesome stump covered in sulfur tufts. Mushroom Mania!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beach Field Trip!

Wow, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind!

The beautiful golden Big Leaf Maple leaves are starting to fall, the Alder branches are almost bare and there is a brisk chill in the air. Autumn is here and our first semester as graduate students is in full force.

One of my favorite aspects of the IslandWood Graduate Program is that our learning is hands on too. Our professors strive to model the kind of teaching they expect from us in the School Overnight Program. Not only do we read books and write papers, but we too get to play, explore and wonder.

So today I want to keep my post short and share some amazing photos from our class field trip to the beach. We had the chance to chat with professional divers, play games and get up close and personal with some of the incredible creatures that make up the Puget Sound marine eco-system.

Sea stars and moon snails, Oh My! The group shared many laughs and smiles playing with these mysterious ( and slimy) ocean critters. 

It was the perfect chance to step back from the world of academia and experience the excitement, curiosity and adventure that touch our students each week!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What is a Scientist?

What does a scientist look like?  It’s a simple question that most people can quickly answer.  I encourage you to think of a few words to describe a scientist before reading past this sentence.
As a formative assessment each week, many of the Education for Environment and Community (EEC) instructors ask that same question of the fourth and fifth graders we have the privilege to educate, and we give them time to draw their interpretation of a scientist in their field journals.  Here is what we frequently see: men, crazy hair, words like “mad”, white coats, mystery liquids with bubbles in beakers, and eye glasses.  Did you think of some of those too? 

How is it that all the students have the same image in their mind about what a scientist is though, and how can we change that view?  Developmental psychologist Jean Piaget would say the answer is through disequilibrium.  I had the opportunity to see this in action this past week while observing Kelvin, an EEC instructor.  He asked the students if they viewed themselves as scientists.  The team all responded in the affirmative, and then he asked them to describe a scientist.  The students immediately gave an expected stereotypical answer as described above.  Kelvin’s next question served to cause a disequilibrium that was truly amazing to watch.
                              “Well, if you’re scientists, where are your white coats?”

The question was followed by silence as the students struggled to find the connections between their previous statements.  There was no standard “this is what the teacher wants” kind of answer so they were forced to synthesize information into a new pathway, create a new understanding.  This was true learning, but the question remains of how did all the students already have a similar preconceived idea of a scientist?

We all move through life as part of a specific and identifiable community, sometimes moving fluidly between multiple.  Our chosen communities are often related to hobbies, socio-economic status, academic goals, chronological age, geographical location, and moral belief systems.   That is a lot of groups to mingle with, but what is the linking force that cements our status in those communities?  It is often the way we think and what we chose to think about. 

Socialization can be an amazing tool for expanding understanding of any topic, but socialization within the bubble of the same community built on thinking the same way is not going to cause disequilibrium.  Growth can come from understanding and appreciating the contributions, differences, and similarities present in other communities.  At the end of the day, we only have one Earth, and we all have to share it.  What simple question do you have a stereotypical answer to, and where can you find new meaning?


Monday, October 14, 2013

Why I Chose IslandWood ...

After just completing my first week of solo teaching, I know I made the right decision to come here to IslandWood. To be completely honest, the transition into graduate school has been challenging. Busy schedules, homework, very little free time... Moving to IslandWood has been an incredible lifestyle change for me, especially after spending the past year in Latin America where time moves quite a bit slower. Yet, after waving goodbye to my first round of students from the School Overnight Program on Thursday afternoon, I knew that my choice was worth it.

Since graduating college, I have been working with students through experiential education programming with a focus on global citizenship and community development. Most recently, I spent the past year working as an instructor for Where There Be Dragons, facilitating learning adventures for students across rural Latin America. It was abroad, spending time in and trekking through small agricultural communities, where I realized the incredible interconnectedness of human and ecological communities. I discovered the ripple effect of my actions as a North American and their full impact on my friends abroad. I learned to share these stories to inspire my students to take action.

 It was through this work that I realized I wanted to pursue education in the United States, to make these communities and connections come alive to students. I care passionately about empowering our youth with the skills they need to make a difference. I want them to explore the world around them and see wonder, inspiration, and solidarity. Working abroad helped me teach to those values. Every day my assumptions and worldviews were challenged and changed. When looking for a graduate school, I wanted to find a program that would support me in teaching this way.

I chose IslandWood because of the school’s emphasis on integrating stewardship and community into education, and in particular, environmental education. In the future, I believe that we must create a more holistic curriculum that focuses on empowering students to be community minded citizens and global activists. IslandWood’s unique vision stood out to me amongst the many M.Ed programs I was looking at. In fact, IslandWood’s way of doing things spoke to me so much that it ended up being the only graduate program I applied to. It seemed like my perfect program.

And now that I am here, I know that it is the perfect program for me. I look forward to sharing the delightful moments, the reflections, the wonder and inspiration, and the many challenges I will experience this year with you all. And please, feel free to ask questions in the comments if you would like to hear more about anything in particular or have questions about what we’re doing. I would love to hear from you! 



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Education Through Outdoor Adventures

Visiting intertidal creatures at Blakely Harbor, inspecting macro invertebrates at Mac’s Pond, investigating fungus in the forest, answering questions about flora and fauna, and looking over the bog from the tree house are just a few examples of the adventures experienced while leading a team of ten fifth graders through the 255 acre campus.

The adventures in the forest, bog, marsh, pond, estuary, and stream are only accents to our purpose as graduates because we are also instructors while in the field.  Islandwood’s Education for Environment and Community (EEC) graduate program is going strong with a new group of graduate students, and I am very excited to be part of the 2014 class. 

I am originally from Texas, and I have lived in Seattle for a little more than a year.  After graduating from Texas Tech in 2008 with a major in Kinesiology and minor in Education, I taught eighth grade science for a couple of years before relocating to Seattle.  I am certified to teach middle level science in Washington State, and after completion of my Masters in Education from the University of Washington, I plan to return to the classroom. 

A focal point for my blogs will be on the experience and instruction at Islandwood as they intersect the outdoors, science, art, and theory.  I am particularly interested in the connections between Islandwood's outdoor instruction and the application of educational theories.  

This will be an amazing year, and I am very excited to share it with you through the EEC blog.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Onward & Upward!

Class of 2013 Field Day

My ten-month IslandWood experience has officially come to a close.

Throughout the past week, people have repeatedly asked me what my highlights have been and what this experience has meant to me. In those moments, my mind resembles a freshly erased chalkboard. Each particle of chalk embedded in the eraser, floating through the air, or clinging to the board is a memory or an experience. Some of these particles I will never forget, others will be carried away and forgotten.

What surprised me the most in these moments of reflection was my refusal to process an experience that was still taking place. Deep down I knew and I now know that my IslandWood experience is over, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Yet, I know that I will have the support of these people for a lifetime.

As my post-program reflection period begins, I find myself facing an enormous challenge. How do I communicate my gratitude to these people, to this place, and to my community with my blank board of a mind?

Honestly, I don’t know that I can. I don’t think I will ever be able to communicate just how much this experience and these people have meant to me. What I can do is to take the lessons, skills, challenges, memories, and experiences I have had and have developed and use them to spread this community far beyond the borders of IslandWood.

This feeling of, “how can I give back?” is what this experience has meant to me. It is on repeat in my head and speaks to just how incredible this experience has been. My ten-month IslandWood experience has officially come to a close and all I want to do is to give back.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading each of my entries. Sharing my experience and this place with you through written word has meant the world to me.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Featured Commentary

Want a little more insight into what it's like to be an IslandWood EEC Graduate Student? We're featured in the Children & Nature Network's Briefs & Commentary Section! Check it out!

Children & Nature Network Logo



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Taking It Back To The Beginning

The playground. How should it be designed? Who should design it? What should it include? What purpose(s) does it serve?

Each of these questions has run through IslandWood Graduate Student Mallory Primm’s mind countless times. However, for Primm, thought became action and action materialized into the actual creation of a playground-like space. Working with St. Edward’s School, Seattle-based architecture firm Mithun, and numerous individuals from IslandWood, Primm has turned her passion into a reality.

 As depicted in the image below, Primm's playground was created in a 30 foot by 100 foot space (between and below points A and B) directly beside St. Edward's School.

“Working on the playground for my independent study project has been such synergy for me,” comments Primm. “It’s been a way for me to translate my learning at IslandWood into a real world application. Even more so, it has been an amazing realization that I can be what I want to be when I grow up, a playground designer!”

 Just as her instructors have created an intentional learning environment for Primm, she has created what she hopes is a similar environment for children.

“ I hope this becomes an amazing place for pre-schoolers to learn on their own by interacting with the space and with each other,” says Primm.

So what exactly makes this space so special? Let us take a tour of some before and after photographs!

End Before 

Corridor Before

 End AfterAfter!

According to Primm, every part of the space has a purpose and a use. Secret spots allow for hidden adventure. Sensory plants awaken emotion and connect learning in the brain. An interactive web promotes creativity and connectivity. And prayer flags made by each student at St. Edward's School release wishes for the space into the wind.

“It was such an effort of the community and my fellow graduate students, teachers, volunteers, and mentors were indispensable in this project,” reflects Primm. “I learned so much: how to splice rope, how to organize a work party, how to think and play like a 5 year old, and how to ask for help when I need it.”

 Christine & Shelley
Two of IslandWood's graduate students volunteering on a fine Saturday morning.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to put learning into action and give back to the students who have taught me so much this year.”

The playground. It should be designed with intention. It should be designed by passionate individuals, a.k.a. Mallory Primm. And, it should include purposeful and deliberate elements.

What purpose does it serve? Ask yourself this question the next time you come upon a playground or place space. If something is amiss or missing, follow Primm's lead and do something about it! Playgrounds are important!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Perspective Stories

Perspective Stories
Lately, perspective story writing has becoming a staple in my teaching weeks. It provides each student the opportunity to embrace, create, and imagine from a viewpoint far different than our own.

The instructions are simple:
1. Choose a biotic (of life) organism of which you will write from its point of view.
2. Choose an abiotic (not of life) factor to include in your story.
3. Write in a way that alludes to your chosen organism but doesn't immediately give it away.

Every time that I have facilitated this activity I have been blown away at the creativity and talent of my field groups. Here are some writings from last week:

   "My branches sway and cones flutter to the ground. Small cones, but not as small as Hemlock's. The wind is music to my ears. My trunk is straight and tall and doesn't sway. It is not moved by the wind. So strong. I smile down at the saplings below, some my own species. Soon the young will be taller than I. My needles dark green closer to the branch and turning more lime green as they reach the end, flutter daintily to the ground. The wind stops its song. The forest stands still. I am at peace."

"My soft tail swings. The breeze goes over my soft fur. A leaf drops from the trees above. I step over the rock by the stream. I kneel down to take a drink. A bird comes down from the top of the Canopy Tower. I run as a human comes at me."

"I sit on the trail. Across, some Sword Ferns. The dirt near me is rich with scattered rocks. A person hikes down the trail and avoids me. I know why. It is because before someone touched my leaves and exclaimed, "OW!!!!!!!!!!!!!" loudly. It startled me! This has happened many times before but one person rubbed Sword Fern on their skin. How strange? Often people are itching when they leave. One one of my leaves was plucked off and rolled into a tiny ball. The person ate it."

No two stories are ever the same. Each story shared is a fresh, unique perspective. The staple continues...


P.S. If you haven't figured them out already, here are the concealed organisms.

1. Douglas Fir Tree
2. Black-tailed Deer
3. Stinging Nettle

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

La Push It!

This past Friday, 16 of us drove to the Olympic coast for a weekend of camping. Our destination? La Push! West of Olympic National Park, La Push resides at the point where the Quillayute River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The weather could not have been better and a wonderful weekend was had by all!

 Beach Ambling
A group of grads birding near one of the rocky outcroppings.

 Hole In The Wall
Hole In The Wall! This was our destination for the day. This well-known arch is only passable during low tide.

A trio of grads watching a seal surf the crashing waves.

 Group Love
Much love, much love.

La Push Group
Our group! Thank you to each and every extraordinary individual who made this weekend so enjoyable!

The finale of our Saturday evening. We couldn't have asked for a better day.

What an amazing weekend! Wonderful people, wonderful scenery, and wonderful weather!

It will not soon be forgotten.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Block Printing!

This week IslandWood instructors and students are getting their block print on! Our Artist In Residence, Mette Hanson, is hard at work sharing her craft and I can tell you from first hand experience, it is an absolute blast!

This afternoon, nine of us (graduate students) participated in a professional development seminar with Mette where we created our own prints using multiple blocks and multiple colors. I had never done block printing before and wow did I learn a lot! The patience, skill, and attention to detail these artists possess is one to be greatly admired.

Without further adieu, let's take a peek into our afternoon!

After much deliberacy, a print comes into its own as the "key block" (the final block) is applied.

Careful! It's not over until the print leaves the block!

Voila! A finished product! This print involved the carving of three separate blocks, careful mixing of colors, and a detailed eye to ensure that everything aligned properly.

 Another finished product!

What an amazing process! Contact your local block printing lesson-providing agency immediately!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Japanese Food Art

This week we are so incredibly fortunate to be hosting Artist In Residence Michiko Olson. Michiko's craft of teaching Japanese Food Art is so interactive and engaging. What follows are a mere handful of photographs of the incredible artwork created by this week's students.

Michiko Olson
Michiko demonstrating her craft.

 Frog & Strawberry Figure 

A frog graces the foreground, while a casually lounging strawberry looks longingly into the sunset.


 Another collection of student artwork. The creation on the left, I was told, is a samurai warrior.

 Bird Is The Word

Ba ba ba bird bird bird... is the word.

Thank you so incredibly much for sharing your talents with us this week Michiko!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Soil To Snack

As graduate students, we are assigned the role of "liaison" at two or three schools who will be visiting IslandWood. During our non-teaching weeks (every other week) we visit our liaison schools to do observations, lessons, activities, orientations, or simply to tag along on a field trip as an additional chaperone. When our liaison school comes to IslandWood, we substitute our teaching week for a week of support and professional development closely interacting with the students, chaperones, and teachers. This past week North Beach Elementary School, of which I am a liaison, visited IslandWood and I had the privilege of floating from group to group and really learning a lot from colleagues. One of my highlights came from observing an lesson called Soil To Snack.

Soil To Snack is a fairly self-explanatory lesson. The students are introduced to IslandWood's garden and proceed to collecting various vegetables that will later be used to create a snack. Once the group has gathered enough, they head to the dining hall where our incredibly talented chef, Chris Agnew, guides them through the process of creating a delicious dish. This weeks dish was Potato Gnocchi with a Stinging Nettle sauce.

 Watch & Learn 
Chris showing everyone how to prepare the Nettles.

 In The Works 
Students rolling, rolling, rolling the Gnocchi dough.

Once it's rolled, students carefully cut their strand into bite-sized pieces.

 Final Product 
The finished product. Potato Gnocchi with a Stinging Nettle sauce, topped with goat cheese and sprouts. Yum!

"Wow something that was so commonly known to hurt me, I never knew it could taste so good!"
- North Beach Elementary Student

For more information about IslandWood's garden or if you'd like some new exciting recipes,  please visit our Garden Blog!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Students Sing It Out!

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be with Team Estuary during their Artist In Residence experience with Joe Reilly and Allison Radell. Of everything I've done at IslandWood with students, it took top prize as my favorite shared experience thus far. Without further ado, I give you "We Are Estuary."

The seed. A collection of ideas surrounding individual connections to IslandWood.

The song. After much deliberation, Team Estuary settled upon their lyrics.

We Are Estuary
Team Estuary With Joe Reilly and Allison Radell
February 27th, 2013

Walking among the ancient trees, the elder cedar trees
On the suspension bridge, the food is very tasty
The canopy tower, the tree house, the floating classroom
The quiet, the stillness of walking around without cars
From the canopy tower you can see, very far
The ravine, can be seen, and leads to the Hah-Bah

The wind through the trees The chirping of the birds
When you’re walking through the tall grass
Footsteps slow and fast
We are here, we are estuary
We are here, we are estuary

Working together as a team, to achieve our goal
I ran into the wall on a night hike, in a blindfold
It was just a bump, it was challenging but fun
Our favorite part is coming back after our journey’s done

The wind through the trees
The chirping of the birds
When you’re walking through the tall grass
Footsteps slow and fast
We are here, we are estuary
We are here, we are estuary

Walking among the ancient trees, the elder cedar trees
On the suspension bridge, the food is very tasty

Should you ever have the opportunity to participate in a work shop with Joe and Allison, I cannot recommend it enough.