A Seasonal Circular | Spring 2018
Kootenay-Boundary School Districts
Supporting students’ understanding of their local environment
Empowering thoughtful action through learning that is
Jamie Stewart, School District 51
Making Waves in the Kootenays!
The purpose of the Kootenay-Boundary Environmental Education (KBEE) partnership is to support a coordinated focus on K-12 environmental education (EE) across the region.
Teachers’ daily professional decisions and actions shape the learning, decisions and actions of future generations of environmental stewards. Individual teachers with a passion for EE and pockets of collaboration in and between schools exist now. Intentionally connecting the districts, schools, and teachers of the region and providing common awareness, access to professional development, resources, and opportunities will enhance the EE experience and learning of all of our students.
You can find many connections to outdoor/place-based learning and the redesigned BC curriculum online here: http://cbeen.ca/curriculum/
Anita Vibe, School District 10
Jennifer Roberts & Diane Casault
Terry Taylor & Lorna Newman
Erin Thomas, School District 20
Take Me Outside for Learning Winners!
Teachers who submitted photos of themselves taking their learning outside during the Spring Take Me Outside for Learning week were drawn to receive a prize. This year, CBEEN generously donated a teaching resource from their online book store for one teacher in each school district! Congratulations to our winners..
Jolanta Wenda-Szoltysek, School District 5
Margo Reinders, School District 6
Kirsten Johnson, School District 8
From Teachers for Teachers... Tips & Tricks for taking your learning outside in Spring!
Spring is such an exciting time to take learning outside because our surroundings are changing on a daily basis. It is a great opportunity to observe changes in the environment and apply learning about seasons and ecosystems to understanding the changes that can be documented and observed. Here are some tips from teachers across our learning region in taking advantage of outdoor learning opportunities during the spring season.
10 TIPS FOR BEFORE YOU GO…
Communicate with families early on to support students in carrying or wearing the right gear. Carrying a Go-Bag with all the necessary essentials is helpful, and allows classes to stay learning safety and comfortably in the rain or shine. This fosters resilience in students and they learn that "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear."
Provide lots of notice for students to be prepared and clear expectations (student led) before leaving.
Reach out to parent helpers! Learn about local experts in your area who would love to share their expertise.
Think about each lesson or activity you plan and ask yourself . . . "can we complete this outside".
Begin to collect useful items and store them in your classroom (jackets, sunglasses, water bottles, hats sunscreen) so kids can grab & go as needed! Have a first aid kit with you. A whistle helps to get the students' attention when is time to return to school.
Have students pack backpacks with a snack, a sit-spot cushion, nature journals, a pencil, an eraser and dress for the weather.
Get some hammocks! My students were so relaxed and engaged in reading and drawing in the forest. Such a great way to connect with nature and decompress after a busy week!
Explain that the natural environment should be respected.
Be very explicit to the students about what the learning goal is.
Make sure your activities are allowed by local authorities. If you plan to have a fire, check with someone first!
20 TIPS FOR WHEN YOU’RE OUT THERE…
Call it Outdoor Learning, which helps differentiate it from recess or outdoor playtime.
Having students take ownership of a project (such as ordering the seeds for the garden boxes that they designed, built, and installed irrigation in) is really helping them become more engaged. I have found connecting to community projects to be one of my favourite ways to take learning outside.
Take your students outside at the beginning of each season, using the same location, to look for signs of the new season. Discuss the new season using all of the senses and how it differs from the last season. Discuss why Spring has sprung sooner in some areas, such as why there is still snow in that area of the playground. Using the medicine wheel, divided into four sections, have the students draw a picture of the new season.
Be prepared to take your learning path wherever nature leads: one of our students noticed a Crocus with a bee in it collecting pollen, so we talked about pollinators, and their importance to our ecosystem and about the scarcity of options for bees in this Spring season. Another student noticed a nearby squirrel eating pine nuts. We stopped, took a video and watched how he extracted the pine nuts from the pine cone. We learned to be very quiet, so as not to make our new friend uneasy.
I have a class set of small notebooks that the kids all grab, when they know we are heading outside for learning. Math problems are plentiful if you look around outside, and I have often set the student up with a great math problem, inspired by what we had just encountered on our adventures outside.
Be ready to change your plans. One day I took the kids to our garden to look for spring colours and new life. They noticed the garbage right away in the garden after the snow melt, so instead we began cleaning up the garden.
The Get Outdoors handbook has been a great source of enjoyable, motivating activities. https://hctfeducation.ca/product/get-outdoors/
Make the core routines from Coyote's Guide your guidepost to your outdoor day. They fill your day with purpose and allow you to meet the objectives of building empathy and exploring nature. http://cbeen.ca/book-orders/
Use community members to come and share their skills. http://cbeen.ca/directory/
Notice seasonal changes in trees and plants. Plan a visit to your community garden to help with planting.
Egg cartons are useful to organize collections that students make. It defines a small area that students should be using and therefore limits students taking any large samples from nature.
Keep it simple! Taking silent reading, lunch, or journals outside takes no prep.
Just get outside! I do find that reading in the outdoors allows students to find their centre, and reading engagement is greatly enhanced.
Centers outside was a hit. I heard one of my kiddos say "this is great! Who needs toys!"
Plan walks so you pass a fountain or public water access (another school, city park, arena, pool etc) at some point during the day.
Students love collecting things, so have scavenger hunts where they need to find something.
I find having a regular outdoor routine all year long that makes going out in the Spring joyful.
We tend to do our activities in the early morning, especially as the weather gets hot. I start with short lessons outside and work our way up to much longer lessons.
Map your community by visiting landmarks and locating previous locations you have visited. Create an art piece that includes the local species and natural features that were significant to each location you visit.
Students have been practicing their outdoor learning all year. The consistency of learning outside each week has helped them adjust to an outdoor classroom.
Canadian Environmental Education Conference
St. Eugene Mission Resort, Ktunaxa Nation, near Cranbrook
October 18-21 - Over BC Provincial Pro-d Day!
Kooteny-Boundary School Districts are pleased to be partners in this conference. The conference will feature over 150 workshops, sessions, field studies, research presentations and outdoor learning opportunities.
Keynotes include Sophie Pierre (Ktunaxa Elder and Order of Canada Recipient), Joe Pierre Jr. (ʔaq̓am Community Nasuʔkin / Chief), Dr. Gregory Cajete (University of New Mexico Indigenous Author and Scholar), Kathryn Teneese (Ktunaxa Nation Chair) and Dr. Richard Kool (Royal Roads University Environment and Sustainability Professor).
Columbia Outdoor School is offering a children’s program, and the conference will also feature the music of the mountain-inspired band, Shred Kelly, and Canada’s premiere environmental education musician, Remy Rodden.
This conference will sell out quickly, so register early!
How do we deepen our students’ education experience with relevant place-based learning? How can all members in our district maintain integrity in their relationship to the natural world?
Every Child, Every Day:
Our students will experience environmental, outdoor, and community-based learning.
Given the emphasis on place-based learning, Aboriginal Perspectives and citizenship in the Curriculum, how can we instill place-based consciousness in ourselves and our students?
A Green school district that regularly practices innovative place-conscious outdoor learning, embodies ecological and sustainability principles in all classrooms, schools and district operations, incorporates First Peoples Principles of Learning in outdoor experience, and improves student self-regulation and health through outdoor experiences.
Committed to providing our learners with quality public education through partnerships with our communities and connections to our natural environment.
How can we cultivate personal and social consciousness of the environment to empower students through thoughtful action to affect positive, sustainable change?