Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Breaking the ice – and maintaining focus...

Environmental Science: what a timely, important, and interesting interdisciplinary topic; we can blog about anything and everything! As John Muir put it: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” That good news is also the 'bad' news if you have a targeted objective to achieve in this multimodal, multimedia society. Productive conversations build on common experience. Regardless of the group, I always introduce myself by way of a fun team-building activity. Quickly scan the Community Juggling activity detail.

Community Juggling detail
In this case we have the topic. As facilitator I'll direct the focus to lifelong learners, our curious students of all ages and backgrounds.

You can see how this icebreaker is easy to focus on systems, a key concept in environmental science. I've used it as a diagnostic assessment to gauge student knowledge of system components and awareness of issues that bombard the system flow. Attempting to find patterns and causal relationships is evidence of reflection – and a skill that can be developed from an early age; students often need to practice transferring that skill to other areas as they grow. They too can become overwhelmed with too much information and too many options.

As an educator, you know what's going to get your students from point A to point B. My goal is to point out some useful tools and to inspire innovation for creating new and different applications of them in your particular context. Via this blog, I'll link simple, targeted (and teacher-tested) activities to vetted, professional (and freely-available) NROC resources that you can weave into your lessons appropriately. Future posts will be organized by the topics detailed on the EPA website so you can incorporate breaking news.

No matter how many links I string together, I bring just one perspective to this on-going work. It’s going to take more than that to make a difference in our classrooms, communities, and countries. So, fellow jugglers, how could/do you leverage the Environmental Science course content to support your practice?