Each week I consider what my learning objectives are for my students, and also what theme might best describe what I have planned. My themes have ranged from “Living Environments and Communities” to “Listening to Nature.” Shaping curriculum around a theme is way for me to make the four day IslandWood learning experience cohesive as well as more memorable. Integrating my lessons and activities into a theme is way for me to assess what students have learned at the end of the week. How are your cultural and natural communities dynamic and alive? What can we learn when we listen to nature? When having a reflective discussion, students can draw from past activities, lessons, and experiences they had at IslandWood.
I have felt very fortunate to be teaching in an environment not only rich in biodiversity but also history! During my themed week of “Living Environments and Communities,” I can explore a wide range of interconnections between natural communities and cultural communities. Take for example the “History Mystery Lesson” — see link below — where my students can explore who was living in the PNW before IslandWood was built and how a diversity of people lived and worked on the island when Bainbridge Island had the worlds largest lumber mill, Blakely Harbor. In what ways were these cultural communities dependent on the natural environment?
One of my student’s artistic depiction of the historic Blakely Harbor, Bainbridge Island.
I like to make themes that are broad enough that they can encompass a wide range of lessons and activities. With the theme of “Living Environments and Communities,” my hope is that students can leave with a new perspective on their natural communities and cultural communities close to home. This can bring in some interesting discussions when students begin sharing their own stories — where they are from or perhaps what communities matter the most to them. In summation, themed weeks have been a great way for me to stay focused on my learning objectives and also delve deeper into a topic having scaffolded the subject with other activities under the same theme.
History Mystery Wiki Lesson: http://wiki.islandwood.org/index.php?title=History_Mystery