Teaching with Tech
I’m starting a new job this year, rather have started (which is why some posts have been delayed, and making #enviroedchat much harder to attend).
|Taken from http://www.world-track.org|
So who is this guy? Usain Bolt’s running coach. Wild huh?
What does it mean to be outdoors?
Next week I head back to work, it’s exciting, and daunting, as I start a new job, but I’m looking forward to interacting with young learners again, and getting a sense of what it means to be an environmental educator in a tech job.
This week in our #enviroed chat, we are looking at cultural diversity in the outdoors. I’m looking forward to the discussion, and thanks to @RangerRidley I decided to look at this before the conversation starts.
Before writing this, I had a quick chat about the idea with my friend Angela. She mentioned a camping program for new people to Canada , and I think she and I had talked about it before. The idea that we have to integrate people into new natural environments is interesting. The statistics from the site said that while the program is called, “Learning to Camp” around 3/4 of the participants are “New Canadians”. My first thought about this stat was, why new Canadians? Do all of us feel comfortable in our own environment?
As an expatriate, and an international school teacher, I wonder about how different people perceive the world around them and how it changes who they are, and what they believe. Without going into too much, for fear of going on forever, I’ll just write about a few of my favourite experiences abroad in the outdoors.
Living in Australia in 2005, I realized everyone was outside, all the time. I wondered if it was about the way they ran business in WA, most stores close at six and many are closed Sundays. The sporting nature of their culture may also play a part. But what I remember most about Western Australia was the space. When we went camping, we were often alone, just us, and the park rangers had little sheds where you paid, but no one was usually around. The idea was that people felt comfortable out in nature and could interact with it responsibly (I think?).
I moved to Korea after that, from 2006 – 2008 I lived in different areas around the country. There seemed to be seasons for everything, and a structure to being outside. Beach season in the summer, would end abruptly, regardless of the temperature in September. So we would have the beach to ourselves. Hiking season was wonderful, gorgeous leaves, crisp mountain air. However, almost all the paths were paved, and the women hiking in high heels always made me laugh. People were outside, but it didn’t always change their attire. There were people who were really geared up, and would have the hiking poles out, and all the new hiking vests for a short hike, so a lot of individual approaches to hiking, rather than a cultural perspective.
While in Kuwait, I was first amazed that people had been living in the desert for so long. I was introduced to Masdar and wondered how people so focused on oil, could start something so progressive. I asked students about how their grandparents had lived and what had changed, but few asked or seemed to care. I remember there was not much outdoors time, save for the rare people who went out on the water in their boats. I started an environmental club, mostly my students, and we planted gardens that could work in the desert and watched mushrooms grow. Most of these students were not Kuwaiti, but from other middle eastern countries. I had a sense that most people would rather be inside, rather than out, but when it is 50 degrees, can you blame them?
Cambodia, I thought, would be totally different. A lush tropical land where people enjoyed being outside most of the time. During my research for my thesis, I found there was a lot of resistance from parents about having their students outside. Their main concern seemed to be around safety. I’m not sure what that entailed specifically, but it made me wonder about how people perceive the outdoors. We had a conversation on #enviroed a couple of weeks ago that went into the idea of safety and the outdoors. Like most things, the more you are outside, and trained to be outside (like the camping program, or good environmental ed practices) the safer you are. In the parents’ defence, most of them are expatriates as well, and it may not be the fear of the outdoors, but the fear of snakes, scorpions, or other things they are not used to.
Going back to my constant wondering, is how do we bring expats, or new people to our community to understand the place where we live. Is the camping program run by Ontario a good thing, is it effective? Why is it only focused on camping?
Really looking forward to this twitter chat, and reading about how different people think about this topic.
What Should We Know/Teach?
What Every Student Should Know About the Environment
- Earth overflows with life.
One of science’s biggest mysteries is how many species share this planet— estimates range from 5 million to 100 million species. Many environmental education programs begin with the premise that life is vanishing; young learners should first know that Earth teems with a huge number of creatures.
- Each creature is uniquely adapted to its environment.
Every species evolved to possess a unique set of adaptations that enables it to survive and thrive in its ecosystem. Students should be on a first-name basis with many local creatures.
- The web of life is interdependent.
Organisms evolve complex relationships, each depending on numerous other species for their survival.
- Materials flow through ecosystems in cycles.
All creatures need water, air, and nutrients to survive. These materials cycle and recycle through ecosystems. The water we drink today is the same water we’ve always had, and always will.
- The sun is the ultimate source of energy flowing through ecosystems.
Food grows from sunlight energy; our houses are heated by fossil fuels created many millennia ago from ancient sunlight.
- There is no waste in nature; everything is recycled.
In nature, every waste product is used by other creatures. Humans have bent those circles into straight lines, where things are used once and tossed.
- We consume resources to live.
Every student should know where the trash truck takes the trash, where water comes from, and how the nearest power plant makes electricity.
- Conservation is the wise use of finite resources.
We are physical creatures with real needs—to eat, drink, build houses, write on paper. But how do we use these resources sustainably?
- Humans can have a profound effect on environmental systems.
Fossil fuels pump carbon dioxide into the sky; habitat loss is causing the extinction of large numbers of species. Our actions profoundly affect the ecological systems that sustain living things—and us. Nature can often repair these systems (forests grow back, for example); but humans are changing systems faster than nature can adapt.
- Each of us can powerfully affect the fate of the natural world.
Because each of us is directly plugged into the planet, the actions we take—or fail to take—profoundly influence earth’s systems.
Teaching Social Responsibility Pages 38-44
What Shapes Us?
Nature Deficit Disorder
|Richard Louv’s Book
Did you know that the typical American child spends 44.5 hours per week plugged into electronic media (not including homework and school)*? getting kids outdoors
Comfortable being a beginner?
Reports are done, it was great to see all the progress our community has made throughout the year. As I’ve been reflecting on this, and my new position (in tech) I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of being a beginner.
Jeff Utecht posted this on his blog sometime last year. I’ve been rereading it just about every month, mostly to remind myself, to be comfortable in new situations. As teachers, I feel that we are under some obligation to know, have experience, or have mastery of something. Our tech world is constantly changing and evolving, so we are always beginners, or should be if we subscribe to this idea of life long learning.
My new position, is going to make me uncomfortable at times. I’m not the kind of person who really wants to call myself a technology leader. I understand that it is useful, I see an amazing opprotunity to engage learners, I hope for the best, but I don’t feel like I’m leading. Jeff’s post really reminds me that, it is okay to feel that way, for that, I’m really thankful.
As always, I want to know more about incorporting slow pedagogy, or environmental education into this new tech position. I wonder, what the future holds, and what information, or skills we really need.
Slow Pedagogy in a Fast World
I am still working on my thesis, a participatory action research project, that looks at how teachers engage in environmental education.
I’ve been taken by this article by Payne and Wattchow.
As I’ve been reading it, I’ve been wondering about how we, as educators, can develop a slow pedagogy as well as the tech skills necessary to live in a constantly changing world. How can we, “live in natural places over time”and encourage students to explore the quickly changing digital world?
I’ve been having students sit in “magic spots” (a place where they choose at the beginning of the year, and sit there everyday for ten minutes) so they have a connection to their specific place. The plan (for next year) is to have them bring an ipad out once a week and take a picture of their spot. They can use the technology to show changes over time, make a stop motion video, or a blog highlighting the connection they have to their place, as well as the changes they have noticed, and the feelings associated with both of these ideas.
I teach at an international school, and I constantly think about how students are displaced, or disconnected from their “natural” environment. As a result, I think, they turn to virtual places to find their identity.
Just torn, as usual, about what to do through tech. How can I share my two passions while making sure we provide the same kind of opportunities for future students to be outside.
My Media Presence
As a person I wonder about putting things online. It used to fear the unknown, then people knowing too much (privacy concerns). I mean, who puts their thoughts online, and why do they do it?
Now I’m thinking more about the idea of establishing positive media presence. There are all kinds of blogs that have been talking about the idea of positive media presence. This isn’t just about getting jobs, or keeping up with the times. It’s more about the idea of creating a community, enhancing my ability as an educator, and really engaging with the world around me (something that is really hard for the environmentalist in me to understand).
While checking out other blogs I came upon this guy Brendan Lea. This article really made me think about how we need to be positive role models for students online. If we want students to engage positively and effectively online, we need to do it ourselves. Try it out, learn from it.
So, this is the beginning of my journey. Exploring how to use technology in education, calming the fears of co-workers, parents and the larger community and enhancing student involvement.
Let me know what you are you doing. How you started off? What you learned from, how you would improve, those types of things.
Big thanks to @PENathan for showing me that this is the first step to take.