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Graduation Slideshows – Moments to Remember

June 29, 2013

Last week I attended five graduation/end of year school events. Two were for my own children. My daughter graduated grade six and is heading off to middle school and my son had his last day of recess on Thursday as he heads off to grade nine and high school in September.

The other three with schools I have worked close with this school year in our Classrooms Without Walls initiative where we work with the classroom teacher to encourage them to teach environmental education within their own community.

And while I spent about 6 hours in total in unairconditioned gymnasiums I watched five separate “Memory Slideshows”. Each slideshow had video and photos of some of the best memories and accomplishments of the graduates that school year.

I loved the fun shots, the projects, the candid shots in the halls. I noticed that throughout the year the smiles grew, the laughter seemed to be in almost every shot.

It’s one of the very few things I find I miss as an educator myself. At our nature centres, for the most part we see students one day a year. We get those snap shot moments. I do not get to see the progression and growth of my students throughout the year.

But as I watched the slideshows I did notice something that made me smile. I would say that over half the shows involved outdoor experiences.Field trips seemed to be a prevalent theme to all the shows.

That in itself was not overly surprising to see.  Field Centres and other outdoor education facilities will always help the classroom teacher fill out the rubrics but for the students we also provide some of the best school memories.  Students remember playing the Instincts for Survival Game or a Solitary Sit writing under a tree or catching their first frog in a pond study their whole lives.

However, for those schools I worked with this year I also noticed that many of the outdoor shots included photos of environmental education around the school, track meets and community support events (ie Bike Ride for Cancer or the Terry Fox Run).

Just as a good field trip experience should provide lead up and follow-up activities for the classroom teacher to follow – to change the one day pond study at the nature centre into a month-long study of ecological diversity – students need to continue the lessons from the excursion and be immersed in the environment around their own community as much as possible.

Environmental education on a trip is for many, an epiphany moment. Something that will always be remembered, as shown by those graduation slide shows.

However, our job as educators is to take those student epiphanies and help change them into an understanding of what’s around them. We find a spark of interest in a topic and add fuel to create a passionate flame for the subject.  So many students get a taste for being outdoors, as do the teachers. As the saying goes though … give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day – teach a man to fish and he’ll never be hungry.

Citizen science, community events, school gardens, outdoor daily physical activity, urban nature hikes and even moving written tests outdoors when the weather allows. Teachers are always looking for ways to continue or connect lessons to the world around them.

Let’s continue to find ways to encourage the classroom teacher to head outdoors leading up to and after their excursions. Let’s continue to make “Memory Slideshow” reels at the end of the year everything they can be.

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2 Comments
  1. Rob, I agree with you “our job as educators is to take those student epiphanies and help change them into an understanding of what’s around them. Citizen science, community events, school gardens, outdoor daily physical activity, urban nature hikes and even moving written tests outdoors when the weather allows. Teachers are always looking for ways to continue or connect lessons to the world around them. Let’s continue to find ways to encourage the classroom teacher to head outdoors leading up to and after their excursions. Let’s continue to make “Memory Slideshow” reels at the end of the year everything they can be.”

    More school administrators need to take risks for their students and teachers. Administrators also need hands on outdoor and experiential education epiphanies so that they are comfortable supporting, trusting and being champions for their staff who wish to take their students outside. Students with parents who are new to our Canadian climate and ecosystems deserve to have teachers and supporting administrators who can connect lessons to the outside world.

    Our schools and communities need educators who can lead, manage and encourage their students in an outdoor setting.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 40 – No Long Hibernation this Summer as a Teacher | Epiphanies in Environmental Education

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