When teaching environmental education, it is important to have new, innovative ways of teaching to keep students engaged. This past weekend I was able to attend the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education conference, Teaching Outside the Box, where I learned all about these methods. TOTB was held at the Denver Green School which is a great elementary/middle school that has a hands-on environmental approach. I wish I went to a school like DGS! In addition to having a great curriculum, the school also has a farm, garden, many outdoor activities, and will soon have some chickens.
I was excited to attend this conference because it is important to constantly further your education. There was a lot of great informational sessions, as well as plenty of time to network and meet members of other great EE organizations. Saturday, our table was very busy so I was not able to go to any sessions until after lunch. I then went to the sessions Diversifying Nonprofit Revenue Streams through Social Enterprise and Grants Tricks, Tips, and Success Strategies. While these did not have as much to do about teaching, I believe these sessions will help me later in my professional career. After, I got to attend the Secret Lives of Owls session taught by Wild Wings. Here we learned all about owls and got to see many owls that they brought it! My final session of the day was a very fun, educational one called Nesting Like a Birdbrain hosted by RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching). During this session we were divided into groups and read about one type of bird; what they eat, how they nest, etc. We then got to use our “beak” to create a nest with manmade materials. My group got the woodpecker so we created a hole in our styrofoam “tree” with our pipette covers beaks and stored our packing peanut “crickets” inside. I think it would make a great activity for any age group because it combines reading, crafts, and critical thinking.
Sunday, Laura and I spent a lot of time telling participants about our Walk in the Wild event which is next month in Boulder. Many of the participants are from schools and educational groups, so I hope they are able to attend. I attended the session Early Childhood Nature and Science where we learned how we can begin to teach three and four year olds about the natural world. We learned lots of songs and games to play. It was fun being able to run around singing, dancing, and acting out the activities. My final session I attended was about sustainability education in a world of 7 billion people. Although, it was not as interactive, it was still very interested. Bill Baird from Population Connection showed us hands on activities to help students understand the environmental impact of human population growth.
Overall, the weekend went really well. It was great to meet so many people that are passionate about environmental education, all sharing ideas and information about their different organizations with each other.