FIRST HAND LEARNING E-NEWSLETTER

Vol. 4, No. 4

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. JOIN FHL IN NEW ORLEANS AT NSTA’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE IN MARCH 2009

2. THE YOUNG OBSERVER’S NOTEBOOK DEBUTS!

3. “WHAT OUTDOOR INQUIRIES DID THIS SUMMER” – THE NATIONWIDE TOUR

Welcome to the new school year! We hope you’ve had an enjoyable summer. At First Hand Learning we’ve made the most of the holidays by getting out and working with teachers around the country in summer professional development workshops, and we’ve published a new science notebook for young learners. Here’s the latest:

1. OUTDOOR LEARNING: A PATH TO SCIENCE AND LITERACY

Are you searching for meaningful ways to integrate the development of students’ science learning with literacy? Would you like to make science inquiry an engaging and site-specific experience for students, but need practical suggestions for how to use a school’s outdoor environment to do it? Join colleagues from around the country in New Orleans to take part in First Hand Learning’s 2009 NSTA Professional Development Institute: “Outdoor Learning: A Path to Science and Literacy.”

 Held at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, this Institute will offer practical approaches for using the outdoors and nonfiction science texts to spark curiosity, increase content knowledge, develop and hone inquiry skills, and communicate ideas and facts verbally and graphically. Participants will have a chance to learn from each other, as well as from the expertise provided by facilitators Mark Baldwin, from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Dr. Wendy Saul at the University of St. Louis, Diane Miller from the St. Louis Science Center, and staff from First Hand Learning.

Save the date: Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 at the NSTA National Conference in New Orleans.

Learn more details about First Hand Learning’s PDI offering at: http://www.firsthandlearning.org/nsta_09.html

Register for the conference and the PDI through the NSTA website: http://www.nsta.org

Learn what happened at the PDI held at the Boston Nature Center last March at http://www.firsthandlearning.org/nsta_08_recap.html, where you can also see an example of a field guide entry crafted by 5th grade students.

2. INTRODUCING A SCIENCE NOTEBOOK FOR PRIMARY STUDENTS

It’s here! Hot off the presses comes First Hand Learning’s new science notebook for use with younger elementary students!

We are pleased to be able to offer a companion science notebook to go with our ever-popular FIELD JOURNAL, which was specifically designed for older elementary and middle school students. (http://www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset6.html).

THE YOUNG OBSERVER’S NOTEBOOK encourages primary students to begin to practice and grow recording skills from an early age. It offers a similar layout of lined and open pages for writing and drawing, but with larger spacing, weather icons, and open-ended prompts to support observation and questioning in young inquirers.

Check out THE YOUNG OBSERVER’S NOTEBOOK here: http://www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset8.htm

Order your science notebooks for the new school year! See http://www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset6.html for details. For a limited time only, order a case of THE YOUNG OBSERVER’S NOTEBOOK and receive a 20% reduction in the price!

3. MAKING THE CASE FOR OUTDOOR INQUIRY

Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, First Hand Learning has been able to provide a number of professional development workshops to teachers around the country focused on using the outdoor environment to support scientific inquiry and cross-curricular goals. We’ve been impressed with the commitment and creativity of the people we’ve met and are optimistic that recent interest in reconnecting children to the natural world around them will continue to grow.

Here are just a few highlights from the latest round of workshops – be sure to look for a complete overview of all the OI activities coming soon to our website:

Kentucky’s Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, brought FHL’s Director of Curriculum Development, Pat McGlashan, to their Visitor/Environmental Education Center to introduce 27 teachers and informal educators to strategies and tools for using the outdoors to promote student engagement in inquiry investigations. Supporting ties between environmental organizations and schools is a part of FHL’s mission and it was great to see the relationships develop around Outdoor Inquiries. Amanda G. Patrick, Environmental Education/Outreach Specialist at Wolf Creek said, “It was truly one of the best workshops we've hosted, and its an honor and joy to give credit to this wonderful partnership!” Learn more about the Hatchery here: http://www.friendsofwolfcreeknfh.com

Peter Dow, FHL’s chairman, accompanied Pat out to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the Wikiup Nature Center provided a wonderfully rich and diverse setting for Outdoor Inquiries: wetlands (which had been dry for two years prior to the flood this spring), forest, and reconstituted prairie. Wikiup hosted 30 secondary science teachers from school districts participating in a three-year, grant-funded project entitled “iGISST,” the Inquiry: Geographic Information Systems in Science Teaching Project. The project’s purposes are to: 1) enhance science instruction through an inquiry and problem-based learning approach, 2) improve student achievement, and 3) nurture collaboration among participating teacher teams. It was exciting to see how GPS technology could be incorporated into the database development strategies offered by Outdoor Inquiries. For more information on iGISST, and the organizations that support it, see: http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:ivdRH-u_H2gJ:www.aea10.org/vastscience/igisst/docs/iG
ISSToverview.doc+iGISST&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=uk

On July 1 in Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco, Texas, Johnnie Smith and Cappy Smith combined their skills to conduct an enthusiastic OI workshop for a combination of South Texas teachers and Texas Parks and Wildlife staff. One of the participants stated that he intends to use the five Outdoor Inquiries strategies to help his high school students find investigable questions for their obligatory science fair projects. Another plans to use the ethogram approach to help students differentiate dragonfly species by their behavior around the pond at Goose Island State Park. A third saw the potential of the field journal to bring students weekly to the Lake Casa Blanca International State Park to explore and to begin to "see the park in a new light."

 Also in July, Rebecca Vore of the Discovery School in Austin, Texas led an OI workshop for 20 teachers at the Botanical Institute of Texas in Ft. Worth. Rebecca's approach encouraged the teachers to do their own investigations and to be in charge of their own learning. The teachers noted that working in small groups, focusing on everyday objects, using new inquiry strategies, and learning to question correctly amounted to a paradigm shift. "There's always so much to explore!"

Finally, Jerry Schierloh, a retired Assoc. Professor of Environmental Studies at Montclair State University and current environmental educational consultant, just completed his third, one-day OI workshop for school districts in and around Linden, New Jersey. A special focus of his workshops has been the identification of “investigable” questions. Jerry is passionate about Outdoor Inquiries and feels that the program exemplifies the new guidelines for environmental education that the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has developed -- see http://www.naaee.org/programs-and-initiatives/guidelines-for-excellence. To learn more about Jerry’s NJ organization and projects please visit: http://www.anjee.net/.

Unfortunately NSF funding of these professional development experiences has finished, but workshops are available at a reasonable cost. Find out more about Outdoor Inquiries professional development: http://www.firsthandlearning.org/oi_products_overview.html.

The First Hand Learning Catalog offers nature journals, hands-on science kits, posters, and more. Go to www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset.html

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We hope you found this edition of the FIRSTHAND E-NEWSLETTER informative. Please contact us with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have by emailing us at: inquiries@firsthandlearning.org.

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