Streams as a classroom!

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This past week Green Team staff Miles and myself(Meghan) road tripped 7 hours into the wilds of the eastern Oregon Strawberry wilderness to the most amazing workshop we both have ever attended.  The Creeks and Kids workshop is designed for teachers and informal educators (that’d be us!) to use a stream site to enhance classroom learning.

All week we learned numerous both in-class and field activities to enhance student’s Green Team experiences at their adopted stream restoration sites.  Many of these activities are from curriculum called The Stream Scene and Project Wet.  Creeks and Kids staff are a team of experts in various stream related fields including; macroinvertebrates, wildlife tracking and sign, water quality testing, stream mapping and fish survey.

This teaching strategy is also called Placed-Based Learning.

From the Center for Ecoliteracy:

Place-based learning begins with asking questions such as, “Where am I? What is the natural and social history of this place? How does this place fit into the larger world?”

Successful place-based programs involve students as participants in the life of their communities. Successful projects demonstrate many of the following characteristics:

  • Learning takes students out of the classroom and into the community and natural environment.
  • Projects have consequences; students’ contributions make a difference to environmental quality and to the well-being of communities.
  • Place-based projects are integrated back into classroom lessons.
  • Students want to learn in order to apply their knowledge to solving real problems.
  • Students play an active role in defining and shaping projects.
  • Students collaborate with local citizens, organizations, agencies, businesses, and government. Working alongside community members, students help make plans that shape the future of their social, physical, and economic environments.
  • Students are encouraged to view their community as an ecosystem and to understand the relationships and processes necessary to support healthy living.
  • By mapping their school and its surrounding community, students create visual representations of the systems nested within larger systems that constitute their local place in its wholeness.
The most meaningful part of the workshop is getting to know and connect with 30 other like-minded K-12 teachers and informal educators.  Over the course of the week camping out, sharing meals and campfire conversations we developed a network of friends we can connect with all year for advice and support in implementing placed based learning with our students.
Get ready Green Team students and teachers!  We will be implementing many of these wonderful activities all school year!  So excited for the school year to start!

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