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jo's picture

Getting to know the Liney 'Ditch' Park: a lesson plan for Camden


I’ve so enjoyed working with the fifth grade class in Camden this semester, and yet I’ve found our limited connection to be very frustrating. Due to the various time and logistical constraints, as well as the fact that there are so many of us teaching together and we haven’t been working this class continuously, I have not been able to carry out my dream lesson plans. Therefore I decided to design a lesson plan for a week-long unit in their class. In this imaginary scenario, I am the teacher, and have been for the whole year. They will be coming out of a long couple of units on slavery and the civil rights movement, and my hope is that this week and the unit after it will bridge a connection between the two. (I’ll use a book called Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.) It will likely be around the end of September, or perhaps in the end of April/beginning of May. These are times when it tends to be fairly warm and nice out but the weather is not reliable so we may end up having some interesting conversations about how ‘bad’ weather plays into our concept of nature/environment.

pbernal's picture

Understandable, Memorable, and Shareable

Regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or ecosysytem, children play in similar ways when they have safe free time in nature.

-Children and Nature Design Principles (Ch.3) Sobel

Knowledge, in my opinion, is perpetual when gained through experience. We learn not to play with fire because our bodies endure pain at first encounter. We know which foods we like best because we eat them and develop a sense of taste. We have the ability to know through our use of senses; sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste. We can only gain true knowledge when we encounter and expose ourselves to an environment.

Instructors, guides, and even teachers can profess and stress the importance of the environment, but ultimately it means nothing if all they do is talk about it. Students will only have an idea, an imagination in their mind, never knowing the impact of the full ability of their senses. The environment will mean nothing if students never have an experience with it. As environmentalists, we can’t force the importance and value nature has for us upon others because we don’t all share the same values. We can’t assume that everyone has the same opportunities as others to experience the environment a certain way because we don’t all have the same access. We can’t teach the importance of environmental education if we can’t allow our students to dance with the universe.

Student 24's picture

Eco-Sex Education: 
The (Forgotten?) Notion that at the End of the Day (Beginning of the Night), We Are All Human(s)*

I want to preface this paper by saying a few things about my growing understanding of ecological thought. I have found that this process of thought is really about process of thought itself. Ecological education is a space where I study the process of my thinking, what triggers my thinking, where it pulls me, from what it pushes against, the ravines into which I fall, and the valleys in which I find myself hopelessly spinning (or wondrously dancing, depending on the atmosphere), where I can sit on the stump of a fallen tree or city street curb and embrace the full access I have to my own mind, style, and words. As a 360, we have well discussed the notion of education not needing to be confined in the walls (be they plaster-white or flashy with rainbow alphabet trains and glamourous posters illustrating parts of speech or the quadratic formula) of a classroom. Education and learning happen everywhere else too: watching clouds in the sky, sitting in a city park, smoking in a jazz club, browsing through a yellow-paged bilingual dictionary, and twiddling your thumbs during a Ukrainian Catholic mass drenched with incense and harmonies of perfect fifths. Most fundamentally, though, it occurs within my mind and my body. If that is the fundamental, then I need to begin there. This paper may feel segmented, but then, life occurs in segments and unrelated events and thoughts. The only thing sometimes connecting events is the passage of time within the body experiencing the events, and that fluidity itself is often what causes connections to make sense.

Jenna Myers's picture

Curriculum Paper- Climate Change Through TIme

 Climate Change Affecting Earth Through Time



For this curriculum I wanted to see how a classroom of 5th grade students would react to climate change and predict what climate change will do to their neighborhoods. Throughout this semester in the Ecoliteracy 360 I have been very interested in the idea of perception. Specifically I was interested in how others react to the five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. Depending on a location of a school or of someone’s home they will perceive their neighborhood in a different way than another.

Curriculum Unit Overview and Objectives:

aphorisnt's picture

Crisis in the Chemical Valley: Teaching Sustainability and Action Through the West Virginia Water Crisis

    On January 9, 2014, several thousand gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) spilled from a ruptured tank a Freedom Industries’ storage facility into the Elk River just 1.5 miles upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional intake which supplies water to nine counties in the Kanawha Valley area (Kloc). Just ten days later on January 19, government officials lifted the Do-Not-Use order on municipal water use that had been put into effect following the spill claiming the water was safe to use and effectively ending compensatory actions (i.e. supplying clean bottled water free of charge to communities in need). Needless to say the water was far from clean by this point. What, then, should the communities of southern West Virginia do? How did this spill happen and who bears the blame? What is it about this chemical that makes the water toxic and why was it neat the river in the first place? How can a disaster like this be prevented? Who needs to do something and what should they do? Environmental disasters like the contamination of West Virginia’s water often leave more questions than answers, but these questions are not without purpose. Rather, using this one particular disaster as a case study, one can examine the nature of environmental disasters and the subsequent actions and outcomes from a host of different perspectives: the political, the economic, the social, at the community level, at the state level.

Sophia Weinstein's picture

Camp Galil Food Justice Curriculum

Throughout my time in our Eco-Literacy 360, I have grown to have a better understanding of what it means to be thinking and acting ecologically, honoring the ‘environment’ as an intrinsic aspect of our lives as individuals, and of the communities that we are part of. Teaching and learning with the intentions of ecological literacy can have mind-opening effects on how we perceive and interact with the world, its people, and the environment. With this in mind, I want to take my curriculum to where eco-literacy has been most present in my life and the lives of many of my friends and family members. My curriculum is designed in a very location-oriented fashion, as a learning experience for the oldest age group at Camp Galil. Galil is one of many camps that make up the Labor Zionist Youth Movement “Habonim Dror”, and is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The ideology of Habonim Dror is based on five pillars: Progressive Labor Zionism, Judaism, Socialism, Social Justice, and Hagshama (actualization of values).  These ideals are rooted in the Hebrew phrase “Tikkun olam”, or “repairing the world”, and are the basis of the unique experience that is Galil. This ideology plays a strong part in generating its eco-centric, environmentally conscious community, but I also see eco-centricity rooted in the camp’s physical location, the style of interaction between peers and between counselors and campers, as well as in the playful, fun-spirited, and non-traditionally educational learning that takes place.

Kelsey's picture

How to Educate for Activism

            During the second semester of my freshman year of college, I took a course in Bryn Mawr’s sociology department entitled “Punishment and Social Order”.  Before taking this course, I knew almost nothing about prisons, either in America or elsewhere, and I’d never really questioned the role that prisons play in our society.  Throughout the course, as I learned about how mass incarceration in the US functions as a racialized form of social control analogous to Jim Crow, and how the system results from and perpetuates capitalist inequalities, I became increasingly convinced that, to achieve social justice, prisons need to be abolished.  Because of this class, I am now seriously considering working on prison abolition after graduation.

            For me, this experience is my personal window into a question I have struggled with for this entire semester: Can education be used to create social change?  And if so, how?

sara.gladwin's picture

"Feeding Our Serendip Ecosystem"

I struggled to motivate myself to write the problem analysis paper for our education class. This didn’t seem to be for lack of ideas/ problems to analyze, but rather, essay writing itself didn’t feel like the most productive mode for me to express my ideas. When I met with Jody, we determined that instead of writing about a problem, I would address an immediate issue within our 360; in doing so I would be attempting to work oriented toward problem solving and not problem analysis. The “problem” I identified was in a lack of Serendip dialogue. This has been a personal issue for me as well, as I have not been utilizing Serendip in the way that I would like to use it. So in the place of a formal essay and in an effort to “feed our Serendip ecosystem” I have begun responding to our classes problem analysis papers. I will be post links to these comments here so that they are easy to find if you are interested in reading or responding. I have not finished responding, so there are only a few links currently below, but I will update as soon as I post!

Here are the responses I have so far:



jo's picture

collaboration vs. conflict

Is that a necessary dichotomy? Reading Steve Chase's Changing the Nature of Environmental Studies made me think a lot about my relationship with and confusion around social change and activism. I have this constant fight within myself about whether I'm being too radical or not radical enough - and then I worry that I'm being too wishy-washy, not fully committing to working with one faction or another and therefore feeling totally useless. I read Steve Chase's account of the Environmental Justice Workgroup's successful "collaborative and educational approach" to their fight to raise awareness and discourse about environmental justice at their school, and I experienced conflicting responses. On one hand, I was impressed and felt regretful that I haven't done more work like that at Bryn Mawr. And then immediately after that, I'm like, "no, my work isn't about helping a bunch of privileged white people see the truth about racism and oppression! I wanna smash the patriarchy! I want to destroy capitalism! I'm radical!" I don't deny that the change that Chase and his group accomplished was important and helpful, it just doesn't feel as necessary or exciting to me. And it's not just because of the hippie anarchist that lives in me and craves adrenalyn rush-style direct action and in-your-face lockdown blockades. I approach this from a "rational", academic standpoint as well.

Lisa Marie's picture

Fusing Nature and Culture

It was interesting to read "Teaching Urban Ecology", a text that explicitly talked about how "nature" and "culture" are so siloed from one another in the classrom and how Di Chiro used intersectionality in teaching Ecology in her classroom. Di Chiro raised many interesting questions in her class, one of them I was especially struck by: "How are environmental scholars and community activists re-thinking and re-connecting the ideas of ecology and social justice with the commitment to creating sustainable communities?" She then encouraged her students to explore this question more deeply by participating in action research which provided them with very interesing and enlightening insight. I think the original question she posed is so central to this course as well as being a question that should be explored in more classrooms across the country. All too often, students learn about "nature" and "culture" not only as separate, isolated concepts, but also without this intersectionality layer to explain how different people experience culture and the earth differently. How might this question be explored in a middle or high school classroom? How can educators and schools integrate the ideas of "nature" and "culture"? How can social justice and environmental jusice and activism be better linked in the classroom/school setting?

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