This Tuesday I presented the new Wildlife Curriculum “Predator, Prey and People” to the Iowa Academy of Science. It was an honor to present at the conference and was inspiring to meet all the teachers, hear their stories, share ideas, answer questions and observe. It would be impossible to share everything with you so here are my favorite “nuggets” of wisdom and observations I took away with me from the conference:
1. I will never stop attending conferences – they always inspire and energize me! (Remember – if you want to sign up for the free “What Inspires You” live chat on Sunday please use the FAQs page to send me a registration note.
2. From having only 40 minutes of science time alotted by the school each day, to restrictions on outdoor time to constantly changing state requirements and terms public school teachers must overcome challenges every day to bring their students what they really want to offer. Take a moment to give thanks if you don’t have these challenges to deal with. I hear a lot of mothers expressing frustration over their own scheduling challenges so I wanted to remind you all that you are blessed in the freedom you have of integration, topic and location.
3. When introducing concepts to students don’t forget to lead into the concept and make sure they understand the basics. Earthschooling naturally does this because it follows a child from preschool through high school. However, if you are not using the Earthschooling curriculum or have started later make sure you teach the PRE-concepts before the lesson. Because we often understand the concepts ourselves we forget that we often need to break the BIGGER concept into small pieces and introduce those pieces one at a time.
4. Remember to get outdoors! You have the freedom to teach in whatever location you want – not everyone has that freedom but many wish they did! Don’t squander it indoors – be sure to enjoy the healing and educational benefits it offers you and your students. One study shows that ADD symptoms are actually cut in half when students do their work outdoors!
5. Go beyond the textbook! Our main speaker talked about Darwin and pointed out a lot of flaws one can find in textbooks. For example, Darwin DID NOT invent evolution, he only used the ideas of evolution which had been around for hundreds of years to put forth his theory about WHY evolution happens. But so many texts state that he discovered evolution. This reminds me of the “Christopher Columbus discovered America” myth. Earthschooling goes beyond the textbook and you can too – no matter what curriculum or methods you are using.