Environmental Education For Kids Internship Report
My goals for my EEK internship are simple.
1) To communicate with enthusiasm a sense of awareness of the environment, it's importance, and the impact we have on it, to a group of children.
2) To maintain my fluency in the Spanish language.
3) To have fun learning and sharing with the kids!
Joelle Rickard: Teacher of 3rd grade bi-lingual class at Green Park Elementary school
Catherine Schmidt: Co-EEKer - 529-1260
Amy Molitor: Advisor - x5855
Margo Burton: EEK coordinator - firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Taft: EEK coordinator - email@example.com, 525-4481
·Every Tuesday from noon to one pm, the entire EEK group meets in the Jewett lounge to eat lunch and plan.
·Every Tuesday afternoon from four to five pm, Cat Schmidt, Meg Higgens, Jamie Williamson, Maggie (senior), and I, the bilingual class group, meet in the Environmental Studies room to plan for the week's lesson.
·At nine am every Wednesday morning the five of us meet outside of Jewett to go to Green Park. At nine thirty we arrive at the classroom and begin the lesson we planned the day before.
·The lesson ends at ten fifteen when the kids go out to recess.
Exact copies of our lesson plans and specific reflections on the lessons we have done can be found in my EEK journal.
Over the course of the semester, participation on the part of Jamie, Meg, and Maggie greatly improved. Although no one was present at every meeting and lesson except Cat and I, group communication improved, and at least we had some warning when someone was going to miss a meeting. We had a total of nine lessons with the kids over the course of the semester. The topics we covered were:
10/3/01 Lesson - The earth as the biggest environment of all, and why it is so special and deserves special treatment.
10/10/01 Lesson - Animals and their habitats and specific adaptations for the habitats.
10/17/01 Lesson - A continuation of the Habitat lesson, focusing on what humans can do that affect different habitats.
10/23/01 Lesson - The three R's, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
10/31/01 Lesson - EEK Bingo!! A special environmental bingo that reviewed all the concepts we had covered, with a Halloween twist!
11/7/01 Lesson - The food chain, prey and predators, and other vocabulary such as: omnivore, herbivore and carnivore.
11/14/01 Lesson - Water! Where does it come from, the water cycle, and ways to conserve it.
11/21/01 Final Lesson - EEK Bingo, questions covered all the lessons. And EEK certificates for everyone.
After every lesson I wondered how much of what we had tried to teach, the kids actually understood, and then how much they would actually retain. When we played the Halloween Bingo on Halloween, we were surprised with how well the kids did, but the real test was the final Jeopardy game in the last lesson. They remembered everything!! Even Joelle, the teacher, was surprised and impressed at how much they retained over such an extended period of time.
I really think it was valuable to teach weekly lessons for the entire semester, instead of the traditional four-week programs. It allows us to create a relationship with the kids of respect and trust that I don't think can occur during only four weeks. By the last few lessons the kids were calling us “teacher,” just as they did their real teachers! As with any activity that might seem difficult at the beginning, the rewards only grew with the time that I spent involved.
We conducted all the actual lessons mostly in English, with the kids contributing in which ever language they feel most comfortable in, but when we play a game or divide up into small groups I always enjoy the Spanglish that is so comfortable between the kids and myself. It worked well to say the words in English, and then if the kids didn't understand, then resort to Spanish.
We modeled the majority of our lessons (except the Bingo and Jeopardy games) off lessons from the EEK notebook. However, we always changed them a bit (or sometimes quite a bit) to fit, our time constraints, the kid’s age, or the language.
Ms. Rickard says the kids love having us come every week! Personally I believe that this is a big success, and I walk out of every lesson feeling great and loving the contact with the kids.
Sample Lesson Plan
Animal Habitats and Adaptations Lesson
1. Begin class by showing the kids our drawings of the most special thing about the earth, from last class. Ask if anybody wants to share theirs, and be sure to use the word “environment,” when talking about the pictures. Highlight animals in the pictures and talk about the animal as it lives in the habitat that they drew it.
2. Introduce the Word Habitat. (Ashley) Write it on the board, and explain that it is the place where something lives. Also mention the four components of a good habitat: Food, Air, Water, Shelter, and write the words on the board. Talk about a human's habitat.
3. Introduce the word Adaptations. (Meg) Write it on the board and get the kids to say it out loud with the EEKers. Explain that an adaptation is something special about an animal that helps it live in the environment that it does. Use easy examples and questions such as - What is an adaptation of a fish that lets it live in the ocean? What is an adaptation of a polar monkey that helps it live in the trees?
4. Introduce the game. (Maggie) Divide the class up into four groups. Give each group a piece of paper with four clues (adaptations) listed on the front, and on the back have the name of the animal. Fold the paper so that only the first clue shows and have the kids make a guess as to what animal it is. Slowly uncover the remaining clues and eventually the kids should be able to guess what the animal is. The animals and corresponding habitats we chose to use were a camel in the desert, a shark in the ocean, a parrot in the jungle, and a polar bear in the ice/mountains. (the parrot was chosen because Joelle told us that the previous week a visitor had brought a parrot into class, so the kids were familiar with them). Here is an example list of clues:
1. This animal has fins
2. This animal has gills.
3. This animal has sharp teeth.
4. It does not have scales.
5. After every group has guessed their animal, have each individual draw a picture of their animal. Then give each group a piece of butcher paper and ask them to draw the habitat for their animal. When the habitats are drawn, cut out the individual animals and paste all but one on the habitat. Keep one cutout free for the rest of the lesson.
6. When all the habitat posters are finished have each group stand up and present their animal, and habitat, talk about the adaptations, and highlight anything really cool that they drew on the poster.
7. When all the groups have presented, using the one animal from each group that was left free, move the animals around and put them in the wrong habitats, and talk about why they couldn't survive there. Ex. Take the shark, and put it in the desert, why are its adaptations wrong for the desert? What adaptations are right for the desert? This should further solidify in the kids’ minds exactly what an adaptation is, and why animals live where they do.
8. Introduce the idea of human's habitat. Is it your school, your house, your room? Does your habitat have the four components of a habitat?
Thoughts about the Habitat/Adaptation lesson
The lesson was too long for 45 min!! We had to postpone the presenting and further talk about adaptations and human habitats until the next week. The kids definitely understand the idea of environment/habitat, and the posters that they made of the different animals and habitats are AWESOME!! I was surprised at how smoothly the lesson went.
·It took me a couple of hours of looking to track down the “Powers of 10” video that we used for one of our lessons, I had almost given up looking for it and was prepared to improvise the following day when we found it.
·As I mentioned above, there is inconsistency in who comes to the planning meetings and who comes to the classroom, with Cat and I. I wish people would be consistent, and if we plan them into the lesson, I wish they would show up to do their part.
·Towards the end of the semester, for the last few lessons we established a pattern of teaching for the first half of the lesson, and playing a game that reinforced the ideas we just taught, in the latter half of the lesson. This worked out great, except that towards the end of the semester the weather turned cold, rainy and windy, often thwarting our plans to play games outside.
·We wavered back and forth about whether or not to give the kids small candies as prizes when we played the Bingo and Jeopardy games. We ended up deciding to give them the candy, and it didn't cause a problem, but I'm still not sure if it was the best idea.
Over the course of the semester, the time commitment has been about four to five hours a week, broken down as follows:
Two hours in planning meetings on Tuesday, one hour Tuesday night planning my part of the lesson and locating things we want to bring, and an hour and a half to two hours Wednesday morning actually doing the lesson.
Recommendations for the Future
I don't know how seriously some people take their internships, maybe the importance
needs to be stressed a bit more in class. Like I mentioned earlier in the report,
I think going to the same classroom for the entire semester is much more valuable
than a four week program, and I believe we were the first group to do that.
Other than that, I think it's great, and you get out of it what you put into