SHARING THE ENVIRONMENT: CONNECTING
CLASSROOMS ACROSS BORDERS
Innovative Programs and Practices I T, K12
Presenter(s): Nadine McHenry (Widener University), Erika
Scarborough (US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Children and teachers in the US and Trinidad learn to use
inquiry-based practices & technology (electronic field trips, wikis,
blogs, video) to explore ecological concepts in their unique local
environments and interactively share their learning.
Children in the US and Trinidad will explore and, using the internet, share local environments, guided by teachers who have learned new environmental education practices and how to use technology effectively in the classroom and in the field.
Participants will have an opportunity to learn about a dramatically different environment in another country and increase their knowledge of the environment in their own “backyard.” Teachers and students will learn about their local environment and be exposed to places and cultures that would otherwise be out of reach.
Sharing the Environment features three principle activities
1. Training for teachers in both countries in using the 5Es, an inquiry-based teaching methodology, to teach environmental principles
2. Students will take field trips to nature preserves and explorations of schoolyard habitat. Children and teachers will learn about their indigenous environments
3. Sharing learning about their local environments and science via skype and other Internet tools (video, blogs, email)
Teachers in the US school and at the two schools in Trinidad will use the same approach to environmental education. Teachers at all 3 schools have been trained in the past year in an approach to environmental education that represents best practice – the 5 Es of inquiry. This internationally recognized teaching method engages students in authentic experiences driven by their own questions and monitored by teacher expertise.
The older children (9- 12 yrs) at WPCS will take field trips to John Heinz. Using Internet web cameras they will show their counterparts in Trinidad the marshland. Similarly, when children in Trinidad are on field trips to Asa Wright, Chester children will see an isolated mountaintop tropical forest. As they present their own environment and compare the two landscapes, they will ask questions and interact with each other. The younger children (5-8 yrs) in both countries will explore specially created schoolyard habitats and create materials to share with each other. Each group of children will explore their own environment, share learning, and compare it to one that is quite different.
Goals and Objectives
1. Teachers at WPCS and at the 2 schools in Trinidad will learn how to use the 5Es to teach environmental principles and facts; they will also learn how to use and teach the use of the Internet and related technology.
2. Elementary school students in Trinidad and Chester will study their local environments and learn environmental principles from that study, guided by teachers using the 5Es
3. Students in Chester and Trinidad will learn more about their own environments and about the environments in the other country as they share their learning with each other through Internet based technology.
4. Students (ages 5-12) in both countries will learn how to use the Internet and related technology.
5. A model for cross-cultural and/or regional collaboration in environmental education using best practices in teaching will be developed and disseminated. groups in their own country. Children at St. Mary’s Children’s Home are housed there due to a variety of familial disadvantages and represent the neediest of Trinidad’s students.