From the Executive Directo r: Up for a Hike? Physical Adventure in the Great Outdoors Brings Out the Joy in Learning!

I received a photo not too long ago from a couple of friends who went hiking in the mountains. The vast landscapes were absolutely beautiful; however, what struck me the most was not the mountains but the image of my friends making snow angels in the late season snow. The joy in their faces was real. They looked happy, healthy, and whole. This photo captured a side of my friends that I rarely see. Whenever we come together, be it at schools or conferences, we are intensely focused and committed to our work. But rarely are we as joyful and happy as the faces in this photo.
 
If creating healthy, happy, and whole children is at the core of our work in the green, healthy, and sustainable schools movement...why are our faces and the faces of children in our classrooms not as radiant? How can we create these blissful learning experiences for ourselves and for our students?
 
This issue of GreenNotes explores how schools are thinking beyond the gymnasium and athletic fields to get their students active in the out-of-doors. In a time when recess gets pushed to the side and childhood obesity is still a grave concern, finding opportunities for physical fitness during the school day is crucial for students' physical, emotional, social, and mental health. However, not all students are cut out for team sports. That's why it's refreshing to see the schools and programs featured in this month's newsletter think outside the box when it comes to fitness and recreation. At Prairie Crossing Charter School in Illinois, fifth- and sixth-grade students venture into state parks on camping trips that allow them to acquire important life skills and connect more deeply to the natural world. At Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School in Missouri, seventh-grade students spend a week hiking and engaging in citizen science projects at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont in Tennessee. Teachers get in on the action too, and the story about Ecology Project International's Teacher Fellowship program  shows how professional development opportunities can provide educators with genuine learning experiences that take them out of the classroom for excursions into some of our nation's most wild places.
 
The great outdoors offers so many opportunities for us to unplug, unwind, and rediscover a part of ourselves often lost in the day-to-day shuffle of life. Exposing students to the possibilities now not only gives them a place to retreat to when they need a boost; it creates a lasting connection between them and nature, a connection that is needed if they are to care enough to become the next generation of environmental stewards.
 
Happy summer!
 
Jenny
Let's Get Physical: Camping Excursions Bring Prairie Crossing Students Closer to Nature

Naomi Hershiser, Dean of Environmental Learning at Prairie Crossing Charter School, shares how her school's camping trips do more than get students moving in the outdoors: they provide opportunities to acquire important life skills and connect more deeply to the natural world. 
Seventh-Grade Trip to Tremont Combines Physical Activity and Nature in a National Park

Whitney Strubhar, Leanni Javier, and Asher Douchant of Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School discuss the student experience during the annual seventh-grade trip to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, where day-long hikes and citizen science projects inspire a life-long love of the outdoors. 
When School is Cool: Professional Development that Gets Educators Out of Class, In the Field

Adam Bavier with Ecology Project International paints a picture of a recent field excursion with Teacher Fellows and shows how these professional development opportunities provide educators with genuine learning experiences that transform how they teach in the classroom. 
Nighttime Adventures

Exploring and appreciating the mysteries of the night by leading walks after dark. Reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine and originally authored by Brad Daniel and Clifford Knapp.
GSNN Educator's Toolbox: Professional Development, Resources, Grants, and Awards for July

The latest professional development opportunities, resources, grants, and awards for July.  
Read the Summer 2018 Catalyst Quarterly!

The Summer 2018 edition of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly takes an in-depth look at how Education for Sustainability (EfS) is informing the teaching of environmental and sustainability education in K-12 schools, and how sustainability is driving systems-level change in schools and school districts. Articles explore the definition of EfS and how it compares to similar progressive education initiatives, as well as how states, schools, and school districts are looking to EfS, systems change, and whole school sustainability to inform instruction, curriculum, and leadership.   

Carry the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly wherever you go! Get  the app from  iTunesGoogle Play, or Amazon  today.  

In Other News...

Green Schools National Network's blog shares timely stories and news from Catalyst Network Schools and School Districts, Network sponsors and partners, and others involved in advocating for green, healthy, and sustainable schools. Check out some of our most recent blog posts below!

W rite for GreenNotes!

Green Schools National Network's newsletter, GreenNotes, focuses on one overarching topic each month. We will consider articles for the month that best matches the topic. Have a question about an upcoming theme? Contact cmerse@greenschoolsnationalnetwork.org.
 
We are looking for a variety of articles for GreenNotes, including:
  • Case studies of schools and school districts doing exemplary work in environmental and sustainability initiatives.
  • Profiles of leaders and advocates in the green schools movement.
  • News and current events of interest to the green schools movement.
 
Themes for the next three issues include:

Social-Emotional Learning in Green Schools - August 2018
Submission deadline: August 3, 2018

Green, healthy, and sustainable schools nurture not just their students' physical health and well-being, but their social and emotional health as well. These schools embody a culture that promotes respect, trust, empathy, integrity, and compassion for those within and outside the school community, humans and non-humans alike. This issue of GreenNotes highlights schools and school districts that are implementing social-emotional learning best practices that lead to whole child development: not just the mind, but the heart as well.

Green Schools Addressing Grand Challenges - October 2018
Submission deadline: October 5, 2018

In 2008, an international committee identified 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st century. Many of these challenges address issues that are pertinent to sustainability and a healthier environment, including access to clean water, alternative forms of energy, restoring balance to natural systems, and improving infrastructure. Since then, K-12 schools have used these challenges as the foundation for curricula that span all core subjects and engage students in solving real-world problems. This issue of GreenNotes will introduce you to schools and school districts that are tackling these Grand Challenges in their classrooms and equipping students with the skills they need to overcome these challenges for a sustainable future.

Net-Zero: Waste and Energy - November 2018
Submission deadline: November 2, 2018

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Net-Zero means consuming only as much energy as is produced, achieving a sustainable balance between water availability and demand, and eliminating solid waste sent to landfills. Net-zero can seem like an ambitious goal, but schools and school districts across the U.S. are adopting practices to make this goal a reality. This issue of GreenNotes will introduce you to some of those schools and school districts, highlight their best practices and lessons learned, and explore the latest trends in reducing energy use, conserving water, and eliminating waste.
Work with Green Schools National Network!

Green Schools National Network's professional development and coaching services are designed to help schools and school districts adopt sustainability practices that align with their strategic goals. Our work is guided by the GreenPrintâ„¢ for Green, Healthy, and Sustainable Schools and its five core principles: curriculum, stewardship, facilities and operations, health and well-being, and leadership. Along with our professional development collaborative partners, we are positioned to help schools and school districts adopt a culture of sustainability that permeates every aspect of education: planning, policy development, program implementation, finances, curricula, teaching, learning, assessment, and administration.

So...what can Green Schools National Network do for you? Check out this brief summary from a recent site visit that Executive Director Jenny Seydel and School Coach David DenHartog made to Bruns Academy and Whitewater Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina. Both Bruns and Whitewater, part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, are making the transition to E-STEM magnet schools.  


Over the span of three days, Jenny and David led leadership teams from Whitewater and Bruns Academies through a series of exercises and activities designed to guide their adoption of a sustainability mindset, shift focus to a more student-centered approach, and integrate social-emotional learning into daily teaching practices.



At Bruns Academy, teacher leaders worked together to establish what sustainability means for their school, along with how this mindset can be incorporated into the different areas that make up a Bruns student's experience. They also developed a series of new, powerful science lessons for their students that are Phenomenon- and Inquiry-Based. Meanwhile, the entire Bruns leadership team considered and practiced social and emotional learning (SEL) activities that can be integrated into their daily practice, and developed a two-week, full school thematic integration of "recycling" that will help introduce the school's new focus and ways of teaching and learning.



At Whitewater Academy, school leaders facilitated a deep dive into Whitewater's revised vision and mission statements. Then, school staff took part in an engaging, design-thinking activity aligned with sustainability education and considered how the theme of "waste" would be integrated throughout the upcoming school year. Content and school leaders came together to re-design aspects of their teaching and learning so that they aligned with a more student-centered approach and participated in an engaging literacy lesson that connected multiple subject areas, along with powerful differentiation. Finally, plans were formulated for integrating SEL into all aspects of the Whitewater teaching and learning experience.


Ready to get started?

Contact  jseydel@greenschoolsnationalnetwork.org for more information on the range of professional services that Green Schools National Network has to offer schools and school districts.




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