Maia Hirschbein
May 5, 2002
Final Internship Report

Environmental Education for Kids: Joelle Rickard 3rd Grade Bilingual Class

My goals in being a part of EEK were simple. I hoped to spark an interest for the environment among my students, and hopefully to leave them feeling like I had taught them something that they would carry with themselves for some time. I desired to take the students on several field trips or bring speakers to class that could contribute to the objectives of our own teaching. I hoped to maintain my Spanish speaking abilities by practicing with the students and to teach the students the value of being bilingual. Lastly, I anticipated leaving on the last day feeling satisfied with myself and the time I had committed to EEK.

Being a part of EEK required a large commitment; many hours of preparation were necessary. Every Tuesday, all members of EEK met in the base of Jewett to discuss logistics and any planning that was necessary for EEK as an organization. On occasion, we would discuss different ideas that we may have had for lessons to contribute and help other EEKers. Usually at these meetings Erin, Isaac and I would stay after to discuss our own ideas for the next day’s lesson. Included in the meetings on Tuesdays were discussions about materials that we thought important things to bring as parts of the lessons; this preparation ensured that we would have the materials on the following day in class. On Wednesdays, the three of us would meet at twelve o’clock to carefully plan the lesson of the day. We often would take 1-2 hours in preparation.

Varying from week-to-week, we would usually teach at 1:00. Lessons usually ranged from 45-50 minutes, often more organized with more careful preparation. The lessons generally followed in sequence in attempts of connecting ideas and concepts that the kids had already understood.

One of the lessons that the kids significantly benefited from addressed the components and issues involved in the three R’s: reducing, reusing, and recycling. Isaac, Erin, and I made three signs that we hung around our necks that were titled with the three R’s. We brought in various articles of “trash” and the students had the task of distinguishing the best method of dealing with each piece.

An important element of the lesson was that we conveyed to the students that it is optimal to primarily reduce the amount of trash that we produce. In making this idea easier to comprehend, we attached a piece of duct tape to each piece of trash, and had each student come to the front of the classroom and place it on one of three of us. I was labeled “Reduce,” and the end of the lesson was covered with the most trash (pictures are on the EEK poster). The students were able to see that it is vital to buy only what is necessary of the products that they and their parents use. The kids enjoyed the lesson because it was amusing to see the three of us covered in garbage varying from aluminum cans, toilet paper, and macaroni boxes!

Following the lesson that discussed the three R’s, we actually put into practice the idea of reusing. The students picked any animal that they wanted, and defined the kind of habitat in which their specific animal would live (we had already had a lesson about the definition and components of a habitat). We told the kids next to bring in any kind of box or containers that they wanted their animal to live in. We brought in various materials that had been reused such as sticks, and toilet paper rolls, and made dioramas of habitats for the animals! The kids loved the assignment because they got to work with partners and had the chance to build something creative. The kids were extremely proud of the end products, and were excited to show their parents the endeavor they had completed with their EEK teachers.

I found the lessons sometimes difficult to organize and arrange. Because we were teaching in a group, it was sometimes a task to agree on a method of introducing an idea and ways to involve the class. Once we learned about one another's teaching methods, it was easier to prepare. A suggestion for future EEK teachers is to be open and honest with the other teachers that you are working with. It is easy to become frustrated with the other teachers, but it is also important to be able to work well with them.

Additional difficulties that I encountered included agreeing with the other teachers on lessons that we wanted to teach, and ways of going about teaching those ideas. It is interesting how many different ways a person can learn, and is important to include variety in the structure of the lessons. By connecting each lesson to the last, it was easy for us to keep the class focused and familiar with the ideas that we introduced.

In closing, I would like to add that the experience with working with these students and being a part of EEK was an amazing one. I am sure that I will continue being a part of EEK, and hopefully dedicate myself to Joelle Rickard’s classes. I feel that contributing our time as Whitman College students to local organizations in a extremely valuable and important tool. I feel that Whitman’s impact on Greenfield Elementary is apparent in walking around the school and seeing students volunteering their time and making positive changes in young people’s lives. I highly recommend being a part of EEK to those that are looking for a way to dedicate themselves and be rewarded stimulation.

Some key contacts that future EEKers may facilitate are:

· Joelle Rickard: Teacher of 3rd grade bi-lingual class at Greenpark Elementary school
· Amy Molitor: Advisor - x5855
· Margo Burton: EEK coordinator - burtonma@whitman.edu
· Maia Hirschbein: EEK member- hirschmr@whitman.edu