Presenter: Vanessa LeBourdais
Thursday, November 3 2016 7:30-8:30pm EST
There is often a missed opportunity in environmental education for students to apply the knowledge and skills they gain to solve real-world problems. Kids can be effective agents of change in their families. Not only do they jump at the opportunity, but recognizing their agency can increase educational outcomes, involve parents in their child’s learning and help tackle pressing environmental problems. Using examples from Planet Protector Academy, Vanessa will share how educators can empower their students to become planet protecting superheroes by:
+Using storyline to endow their students with superhero powers and aspiration.
+Making student learning hands-on and connecting it to the home through superhero missions.
+Nurturing identity-based change through arts-based activities that engages the whole child.
+Getting buy-in from families and making behaviour change easier.
+Incentivizing participation, engagement and action through team competition and gamification.
Vanessa LeBourdais is the Executive Producer and Creative Director at DreamRider Productions a national Canadian environmental education charity. Over the past 18 years, Vanessa’s and her team’s arts-based and digital programs on zero waste, climate, water and littering have reached over 900,000 elementary school children in 900+ schools in five provinces. Their latest digital classroom resource, the Planet Protector Academy won the 2015 TELUS Innovation Award, is now in five Canadian provinces, and is launching in the US this fall.
Presenter: Amy Demarest
Wednesday, February 1st 2017 7:30-8:30pm EST
In contrast to so much of schooling that is presented with little or no context, place-based education offers educators opportunities to build skills, knowledge, and aptitudes with engaging storylines. Places—natural and built, rural, urban and suburban all provide compelling narratives which students can investigate as they build the many points of understanding and proficiencies required in K-12 schooling. The presentation will include examples and discussion about what constitutes excellent place-based curriculum and student work and how these authentic products inspire deep learning.
Teachers are often challenged to incorporate the inspiring examples of place-based education into their daily plans. With a focus on curriculum design, Amy will offer strategies and examples of different ways to build meaningful learning opportunities grounded in the local community. Amy will present the foundational elements of place-based education that educators can use to more intentionally design community-based curriculum. These elements serve as inspiration and multiple entry points for educators–classroom teachers and non-formal educators — to creatively weave together personal engagement, mastery of subjects, understanding of place and acts of service. These elements are reflected in these four questions:
- How can I better relate school to my students’ life experience?
- How can I help students better understand how this big idea works in the real world?
- How can I help students better understand this place?
- How can I help students better understand themselves and their possible futures?
Amy Demarest is a former middle-school teacher who now works with formal and non-formal educators in a variety of settings. In her work both as an educator and as a writer, she seeks to find ways to help teachers do the things that are most important to them as well attend to the myriad of less rewarding tasks they are required to do. Most of the graduate courses she has taught have been on standards-based curriculum design. Recently she has been able to focus solely on the more inspiring (to her) place-based design work. Her “Reading the World, Not Just the Words” article in Green Teacher 106 (Spring 2015) outlined why it is crucial to take students of all ages out of the classroom and into the community. More recently, she guest-edited Green Teacher #110, which showcased a wide range of innovative place-based education programs and strategies. Her second book is titled Place-based Curriculum Design: Exceeding the Standards Through Local Investigations. Her work is outlined on her website Ourcurriculummatters.com.