Summer Days

Sara LockieFamily adventures, NatureLeave a Comment

Last spring our mailbox was crammed with glossy brochures filled with summer opportunities. Day camps, overnight camps, weekly classes, weekend trips. They all sounded like fantastic new experiences that our kids would enjoy and remember for a lifetime. “I just want to be at home,” my 10-year-old son glanced at the brochures and said, “But Mom, the schedule is always … Read

Want Better Discussions? Frame the Conversation

Jesse WilcoxNature, Philosophy & MusingsLeave a Comment

Just as important as the verbal interactions we use with students, we must also be aware of our non-verbal behaviors. Eye-contact, smiles, looking interested, and open body posture can make the environment feel much more open and welcoming. When we relax and employ these more positive nonverbal behaviors, students tend to engage in and contribute to classroom discussions (Herman, 2008). … Read

Want Better Discussions? Just Wait A Few Seconds.

Jesse WilcoxNature, Philosophy & MusingsLeave a Comment

My last post introduced some questioning methods that can engage students in more authentic classroom conversations. Now that you’ve had a chance to try some open-ended questions or the HRASE Strategy, and incorporate them into your classroom repertoire, we have two more approaches to try Wait Time I and Wait Time II. This can be a powerful way to encourage … Read

Want Better Discussions? Questions are the Answer

Jesse WilcoxNature, Philosophy & Musings1 Comment

Many teachers want to include more authentic conversations into their classrooms, yet getting students to deeply engage in large group discussions can be difficult.  It turns out the key to improving the quality of classroom discussions is to improve the way we teach. This is kind of a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that we have control … Read

Devastation in Puerto Rico

Sara LockieNature, Philosophy & Musings, Social Justice1 Comment

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Shelly Johnson, Martha McCormick and I planned to travel to Puerto Rico this Tuesday. Next Step was chosen to present at the North American Association of Environmental Educators’ (NAAEE) Annual Conference in San Juan this week. Our presentations were planned, and we were looking forward to learning about a place we had never visited. Instead, we have anxiously followed the … Read

Lessons for Harvest Time

Martha McCormickNature, Uncategorized1 Comment

Harvest basket

It’s harvest time in Iowa! It’s been a mostly warm September, and we’re bringing in buckets of tomatoes, bouquets of basil and parsley, and enough carrots to share with the Jolly Green Giant! Kids are gathering produce and learning in school gardens all over the country as well. It’s tempting to get all sentimental about kids raising food for their … Read

Lessons for Fall

Rachel Krzton-PressonNatureLeave a Comment

Sun on the lake

For many of us, buying new pencils, pumpkin spiced everything, football, and warm socks mark the beginning of fall! But for teachers autumn ushers in a wellspring of environmental education themes. Three topics are especially interesting this time of year–resilience, migration, and animals we love to hate.  Perhaps our strongest instinct is for self preservation. Even in the most difficult conditions, living … Read

Our Sunflower Fort

Sara LockieNature1 Comment

Feet in the sunflower fort

My children love forts. But a sunflower fort? It exceeded every expectation. Inspired by Eve Bunting’s Sunflower House, we planted sunflower seeds in a circle last spring. My nine-year-old couldn’t decide on just one variety of sunflowers at the garden store, so we planted two circles of seeds – an inner ring of mammoths and an outer ring of a … Read

Alone on the Prairie

Rachel Krzton-PressonNature1 Comment

Rachel alone on the prairie

Last week I packed my bags and headed on a vacation with my parents and siblings. Our destination was Lake Florida in Minnesota. While we were there we volunteered at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center! One of my projects was clearing trails around the prairie. Early in the morning, a little grumpy and weary from such an early start, I … Read