Giving something a name

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Sitting in our outdoor discovery centre

I’ve been reading about different ways to develop a sense of place, and feel more connected to the land.  One of the ways both Basso and Raffan talk about, especially when looking at indigenous nations, is how we name places. When we name things we build our relationship with them, we define how to use them, and we create a way to interact with the place.

I’ve been thinking about how I’ve changed one of my classroom practices since last year.  Last year, one of the first things we did as a class is name ourselves.  How do we want to be called.  I have two classes this year, and I had planned on doing it in our new unit, but I think I missed an early opportunity.

There’s two ways for me to think about this.  One is that, we could have taken an early opportunity to define ourselves, and how we work together. We could have started naming and identifying ourselves as a group in order to really think about how we work with the place around us.  The other is that now that we know more about us, and how we work together we can maybe come up with a more informed and relevant name.

I suppose though, I know now that we need to name ourselves, we need to name our team, and we need to think about the places we inhabit.  I’ve been working more on talking about the Sang Cancil stories. The Little Mouse Deer, who is much like Briar Rabbit.  The students are really liking them, they connect and think Sang Cancil is funny, they are asking more questions about who the leaders were in the past, and making guesses about important other creatures in the jungle. It’s more surprising than I thought.

It’s been a good journey so far, knowing more about our place, and starting to make connections.  The kids even went out in the rain yesterday.  Fun times.

Basso, K., H. (1996). Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Raffan, J. (1993). The Experience of Place: Exploring Land as Teacher. ERIC Online, 16(1), 39-45.

The importance of rest and reflection

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I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the importance of resting for reflection (maybe because the holidays are coming up?). Also a couple of weeks ago when we did our presentation, one of the teachers talked about the importance of giving students time (for learning on their own, but now I’m also thinking for reflection).

I know personally that for me holidays need to be restful. I need to take time and sit on the couch so I can think and reflect about what’s been happening and how to improve. I need the time to actually create headspace and wonder about how to improve.  This can’t be something I do in school, or something forced, it needs to be time intensive.

I guess for me, I’ve been wondering if I know this to be true to me, and I suspect it to be true of most people, then when do our students get this.  When do they have a chance to authentically reflect (not just reflect for me, or for learning, or for something else). My new year’s goal is to make sure they have some time to think.

First week of "magic spots"

Student photo

This was our first week of magic spots.  I am only doing this with two students so far.  We are working on a year long project to make a stop motion video (as well as address feelings regarding) a specific spot in school.  The point of this project is to connect students to a place in nature.

When we first went out I was excited to get the project underway. We have a rather large field, and I said to the students you can pick anyplace you would like to be for your spot.  Both students stayed relatively close to the school, and only one picked a view of a tree (the other picked a view of a slide).  I had explained what I thought was important about the project, but both students had said they had already picked their spots (before we went out together). So while it was great they had been thinking about a space meaningful to them, I was a little concerned about where the space they chose. 
After the first day we did a short debrief regarding their feelings.  Both students just felt hot, and not real attachment, which was to be expected.  I found some grass that was seeding and got them to look deeper into their space.  This seemed to be effective.  After recess one of the students came up to me and noticed more grass that looked strange. 
So far, the project has been going as planned I guess.  The students seem interested, but it’s only the first week.  It might be a challenge to keep this enthusiasm happening all year. 
When I was a classroom teacher it was easy to make sure every student got outside and was quiet for at least five minutes a day, it seems so much more difficult without a class. 
They are all very excited about making the video though.  

Who’s responsible

AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Steve took it

To be honest, I haven’t been really looking forward to this post.  I’ve already been really focused on Common Sense Media and I’m looking forward to being certified for my job this summer.  I thought it I would just write everyone.  Everyone is responsible.  But then I started thinking more about how we are taught about how to live in the “physical world” and for me, ideas expanded beyond just students.

During my Environmental Education Master’s program we discussed the idea of intergenerational learning how everyone can learn from each other.  Talking with Addy while driving for a meal I really started to think about the possibilities.  
My grandma used to get all kinds of games, viruses, etc. on her computer.  She wanted to be on facebook to keep in touch with her grandkids.  She needs to know about digital citizenship.  My boss is scared of twitter because of possible repercussions, so he needs to learn about digital citizenship.  The students in my class are still pushing boundaries in their digital world, they have less fear, but there could be more consequences. 
I think what we need is more of a campfire, or roundtable discussion.  Seriously have everyone involved.  Instead of just giving full lessons, make stories (videos, slideshows, etc.) and share experiences.  We talk so much about the importance of stories this would be a great chance for us to share all these ideas with each other. 
By incorporating everyone, and sharing stories, we can make these ideas more meaningful for everyone and less lesson like. Everyone would be involved, we would create shared stories and these stories would evolve as our relationship with the digital world is evolving. Just a thought.

Citizenship

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by MaRS Discovery District: 

I’m in the middle of blog lessons, and as we start talking about what and how we will write we are delving into digital citizenship. So far what has impressed me most about my student’s interpretations of this idea is that good digital citizenship is basically good citizenship, they just see it as an extension of their normal community.

Thankfully this allows me to talk about integrating good global citizens into my lessons this week. We can talk about what responsibility means to us in a digital and natural world, and how often those things are connected.  Most of my students know what it means to treat their classmates with respect, making that connection to posting pictures of others online makes sense to most of them.  Making the extension that these actions (both positive and negative) last longer online then they do in the classroom can be a difficult concept, but we have looked up the first website, and that makes it possible to see how long things last online (even if they are no longer as relevant as they once were). 
Responsibility to a community is something I feel we need to highlight in these lessons, and I can talk about our responsibility to the natural world as well.  Citing sources is like where we get our resources from. We need to be aware of where these things come from and treat their origins with respect.  Thinking about how we interact with others is extremely important in order to help our community reach its full potential.  
When I think about permaculture principles (the ones we made for the kids, Earth care, People care, Fair Share) I think it is easy to put these ideas into our digital citizenship classes.  I guess what I’m really wondering is how Digital citizenship is different from citizenship, any ideas? 

Sustainability and Tech

It is budget time and as I ask for more devices for my students, I wonder about the social and environmental cost behind my request. I’ve seen the videos and heard the horror stories of the “recycling” plants in China and around the world. I worry about the personal cost to people in these situations too, and wonder what is being done about it.

Since our school has started an iPad program I thought I would look into how Apple was thinking about sustainability. Apple says they are committed to transparency and are a member of different third party organizations to confirm this. I started reading their report on sustainable practice.

I guess I realized that everyone wants to be committed to sustainable practice but actual action is harder to take.  From their report it looks like Apple firmly believes in helping their workers (including third party workers) gain fair wages, working conditions and success.  I think all these things are true, but I do wonder about third party monitoring.

Going back to earlier post ideas, I wonder about recycling and design process.  How can we start designing computers and tablets, and whatever else to be fully repurposed.  I heard a program (forever ago it seems) on the CBC about tech designers looking at how the companies would have to be responsible for the waste (it would be included in the price or something) they then started talking about renting equipment.  The point was you could pay the company (Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc.) for a specific package, when the time to renew that package came up the company would take the phone and hopefully reuse the different components to make a new phone or tablet, etc.

Cradle to Cradle has been a focus for me these last couple of weeks, if it doesn’t show.

Cradle to Cradle

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the holiday season, gift giving and how those thoughts impact the environment.

Aitana Leret Garcia » DP2.- Cradle to cradle: Waste = Food : taken from - http://www.eoi.es/blogs/aitanaleret/2011/12/16/dp2-cradle-to-cradle-waste-food/http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/es/

Aitana Leret Garcia » DP2.- Cradle to cradle: Waste = Food : taken from – http://www.eoi.es/blogs/aitanaleret/2011/12/16/dp2-cradle-to-cradle-waste-food/http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/es/

So I bought a back pack for my travels around with this philosophy.

I got it from kickstarter if you want to check it out  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mijlo/a-better-backpack-sustainable-design-sustainable-f.

Anyway, with my focus on permaculture the last couple of weeks as an individual and my focus on design as a teacher this cradle to cradle philosophy has really got me wondering about how we can teach students more about the ideas behind sustainable design.

Taken from Amazon.com

I read this book three years ago, and was really concerned that tech people weren’t buying into this philosophy.  So I want to make lessons that incorporate this idea.  I love the idea of publishing ebooks rather than wasting paper, but we’re still using important resources in order to produce the tech to make the ebooks.

How can we bring the cradle to cradle philosophy to class?

I think a lot about my implicit and explicit teaching.  When I work with students how can I reinforce the idea of sustainable design explicitly and through my implicit actions?  This is my focus for this week: being really aware of how I promote sustainable design.  Any help is more than welcome.