2015 Teaching the Environment Workshops
Nature plays a critical role in children’s development and well-being. The ways in which environmental education fosters children’s learning is inherently progressive. This workshop will provide an overview of environmental education in an early childhood classroom. Participants will view the Child Development Institute’s film, When Learning Comes Naturally, and discuss ways to provide children with opportunities to meaningfully interact with their environment inside and outside the classroom.
The Nature of Nurture: Teaching the Environment and Child Development & Learning
Environmental educators naturally understand the value of environmental education for children and adolescents: they see the children that they work with playing in more complex ways outdoors than they do indoors, they listen to children as they learn more about their natural world and begin to change the ways that they think about the environment and their place in it. But, with the growing focus on standards-based learning and assessment, environmental education is often cut from school programming, and children are given less and less time to play outside. How can we push back against this trend? In this workshop, we will discuss the mounting evidence supporting the positive impacts of engagement in the natural environment generally, and environmental education programming specifically, on children’s development and well-being. We will also discuss the evidence for significant transformations in children’s scientific knowledge, as well as changes in their environmental attitudes and behaviors, when they engage in effective environmental education programs. Finally, we will discuss the evidence based on interviews with and observations of children themselves: when asked, children and adolescents across the globe prefer natural areas and engage in more complex levels of play in such settings.
One School’s Experience in Engaging Students, Educators, and Community
This session will provide an overview on the importance of self-sustainability and being an environmentally responsible person, educator, and school. Participants will learn about the multidisciplinary initiatives (outdoor learning classroom, healthy lifestyle activities, fruit and vegetable garden, etc.) developed at the William. E. Cottle School in Tuckahoe, NY.
Exploring the Biodiversity of the Hudson River
Teachers will observe a group of children from San Andres Center as they participate in the “Catch of the Day” seining program at CURB. Children will discover the biodiversity of life lurking along the shorelines of Yonkers by dragging a seine net through the water while wearing chest waders to keep dry. They will also embark on a beach scavenger hunt to explore the treasures washed up with the tides. The observations of the children will be followed by a group discussion regarding the children’s interactions and overall experience.
Hudson River Watershed and Water Quality
Teachers will participate in hands-on demonstrations to understand the dynamics and functions of the Hudson River watershed including. Teachers will analyze the water quality of the Hudson and Saw Mill River to compare physical and chemical parameters of each. The data will be compared to real-time data from other Hudson River water monitoring locations.
Startling Perspectives: Art, nature and a child's sense of wonder, humor and what if
This workshop will explore the ways an experience in the natural world inspires creative work. Teachers, children and artists all grapple with the challenge of observing and describing natural phenomena. Looking at the Botanical Gardens through the eyes of artists--poets, painters, and gardeners--provides a way for teachers to reflect upon how to respect and support the development of a child's sense of wonder, humor and "what if." Even as we discover exciting similarities between the work of teachers children and artists we will also strive to notice how fundamental differences may and must enrich our efforts and experience.
Ways of Knowing: Learning to See and Tell through the Camera’s Eye: Using Photographic Documentation and Reflection in the Classroom
In the classroom or in the field, observation, documentation, and reflection can be supported and enhanced by students and teachers alike when photographic tools are utilized alongside mainstream forms of literacy. By seeing photographically, learners can engage with the environment and/or the scientific method through image-capture technologies that help make thinking visible with an immediacy that is not easily achieved when relying on fine motor skills and language alone to record observations and subsequent knowledge. Participants should have a digital device with which to engage in a hands-on activity to demonstrate how photography can be used to augment learning.
Visit to Greyston Community Gardens
In this session, participants will visit one of Greyston's community gardens and learn about its history, programs, and ways in which Greyston Community Garden Project engages students and the community. Similar to activities children and residents experience at the gardens, participants will also have an opportunity to engage in a hands-on activity.
Visit to Science Barge and Saw Mill Daylighting
Participants will venture by foot to the Science Barge, a floating prototype sustainable urban farm. The Science Barge is an educational site that hosts nearly 5,000 student visitors annually, giving them an opportunity to see urban agriculture, composting techniques, solar and wind power, and rainwater catchment in action. Having tangible examples of these "off the grid," sustainable living techniques is invaluable for students, and the Science Barge "on-board activities" emphasize the learning experiences in subjects such as Botany, Alternative Energy, Carbon Footprints, The Nitrogen Cycle, and the Tragedy of the Commons. In addition to touring the facility, educators will be able to view some of the Science Barge activity materials and curriculum.
Bringing the Outside World In
A nature or “field” journal can be much more than a record of scientific facts. The nature journals of Ernest Thompson Seton, John Muir, and Beatrix Potter are examples of the tradition of using narrative and art in combination to communicate careful observations of nature. This workshop explores a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and unknown and the act of expression through a visual and written record of experience.
Social and Environmental Justice Walk
Downtown Yonkers encapsulates in just a few blocks many of the challenges of balancing urban redevelopment with economic and social justice and environmental sustainability. The city's current intensive redevelopment projects, located between the Hudson River and historically rich Getty Square, provide a vivid illustration of this difficult balancing act.