“Sun Bears are an endangered species and their habitat is rapidly disappearing. There is a lack of awareness of their plight and the need for conservation of their habitat. By taking part in SUN BEAR ROCK! you will help raise awareness and vitally important funds for the BSBCC to help protect this valuable and little known species!” – Kenny Peavy, Educator and co-author of As If the Earth Matters
Would you be interested in helping save the endangered Sun Bear population in South East Asia?
Are you or someone you know interested doing a collaborative class project about protecting the sun bears with a school in Borneo?
“Find common stuff that people know about that they don’t talk so much about.”
“Writers are thinkers. Writers are noticers. Writers are hardworkers.”
These are three ideas from David Greenburg that I jotted down during his recent author visit to my school.
I had the pleasure of listening to David’s entertaining presentations, poetry and writing workshops. He has lived a fascinating life, and shares this through his presentation on the historical fiction novel, A Tugging String - a tale of growing up in the Civil Rights era in America. David gives this book such a unique perspective. Interestingly enough, his father was Martin Luther King, Jr’s personal attorney during the turbulent times of the civil rights movement. The presentation was moving, to say the least.
Photo taken by Brent Fullerton
Most of his writing is poetry and takes on a playful art of rhyme. An hour after sharing the sobering topic of civil rights, he was cracking jokes and rapping and rattling rhyming poems. He had the kids in the palm of his hand. They absolutely loved him. One student said he reminded him of Adam Sandler. I would agree! Hilarious and playful with words and sounds.
I read several of his books to the students during the visit. Three writing techniques are consistent in Greenburg’s poetry: rhyme “intense rhyme or macro rhyming” as he describes it (three words in a sentence that rhyme), alliteration, and repetition. For example:
“Giant tabby cats
And defiant scabby rats
Large enough to swallow babysitters.” – excerpt from Bugs
Here are two VoiceThread recordings of Maxim recited Greenburg’s poems:
The visit was capped with a family night presentation. He had the crowd tuned in and turned on: laughing, writing and enjoying rhyme. Here’s an example of a simple activity–choose a family member to write an alliterative sentence about.
“Maxim, the madman, methodically masters molten magma miraculously making Mars bars.”
Enlightening, entertaining and unpredictably funny, David Greenburg can enrich any school literacy program. I would highly recommend him.
My family just returned from nearly three weeks in Nepal. We trekked for 10 days on the Annapurna circuit with the intent of reaching Annapurna base-camp. For nearly 6 to 7 hours everyday we hiked, talked, drank hot tea and enjoyed the gorgeous surroundings of the Himalaya range. We gave ourselves the name TeamBistariBistari. “Bistari” is Nepalese for “slow”. Usually we were the last ones to reach the guest lodge in the early evening just as the alpen glow lit the snowy peaks. There was no need to push our young children too hard or too fast on their first big trek. Fortunately, with weather in our corner, all we had was time. Time to enjoy being outside. No phones. No email. No screens. Off grid.
I was very impressed with the kids. We started our trek at 860 meters and eventually climbed up to base-camp at 4035 meters (over 11,000 feet in elevation), and there was never a complaint. Despite a couple days of well over 1000+ foot elevation gains, for most of the day, all I heard or saw from them was singing, humming, storytelling and smiles. They were content. I was happy.
After returning from the trip, while eating breakfast, we were talking about what makes us happy and my eight year-old daughter, Lauren said:
“Nature is my iTouch.”
This made me think of an article I read recently This is Your Brain On Nature. It’s about Wallace Nichols, a marine biologist, who has come up with campaign to create a new field of study he calls neuro-conservation. Nichols works hard to protect the ocean. And during the years of delivering countless presentations in front of room size aquariums about ocean life, he has noticed a similar reoccurrence. When people enter and see the big blue and all the life it supports, people get happy.
“Whether it’s a 92-year-old or a two-year-old, when they come into that blue space, something happens,” Nichols says. They grow quiet and calm, but there’s more to it than that. When couples walk in, they frequently start holding hands. He says that if you ask people here what they’re feeling, they’ll struggle for words. Nichols finds this fascinating. He also believes that if we can understand what really happens to us in the presence of the ocean—which brain processes underlie our emotional reactions—it could bring about a radical shift in conservation efforts. If we learn precisely why we love the ocean, his thinking goes, we’ll have an immensely powerful new tool to protect it.”
Could this thinking be applied with mountains and forests too?
The article went on:
“The first time I met Nichols, he gave me a blue marble. It was sort of awkward. “Hold it at arm’s length,” he said. “That’s what the Earth looks like from a million miles away—a water planet. Now hold it up to your eye and look at the sun. If water were inside, it would contain virtually every element. Now think of someone who’s doing good work for the ocean. Hold it to your heart: think of how it would feel to you and to them if you randomly gave them this marble as a way of saying thank you.”
Nichols has started the organization BlueMarbles.org. Here in this video is Nichols raising awareness of this movement.
“…I introduced the term nature-deficit disorder—not as a medical diagnosis but as a way to describe the growing gap between children and nature. By its broadest interpretation, nature-deficit disorder is an atrophied awareness, a diminished ability to find meaning in the life that surrounds us. When we think of the nature deficit, we usually think of kids spending too much time indoors plugged into an outlet or computer screen. But after the book’s publication, I heard adults speak with heartfelt emotion, even anger, about their own sense of loss.
One day after a talk in Seattle, a woman literally grabbed my lapels and said, “Listen to me: adults have nature-deficit disorder, too.” She was right, of course. As a species, we are most animated when our days and nights are touched by the natural world. While individuals can find immeasurable joy in a great work of art, or by falling in love, all of life is rooted in nature, and a separation from it desensitizes and diminishes us.”
Louv has prompted a movement that discusses the need keep a balance between technology and nature:
“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
In the post My Osteopath Hates My Computer by Josee Marshall, she states that continuous time at the computer must be interrupted with time away to stretch and move (and smell the flowers). It’s important to consider managing our students time and position at the computer or mobile device. In the course of students’ lives, they will be spending a far greater time using this technology than we ever will.
What if I started to deliver most of my tech-based lessons in natural surroundings?
What if schools could design school classrooms in beautiful, natural environments?
What if a “week without walls” became “everyday without walls”?
Some rights reserved by Andreas Ebling
I am fortunate as a teacher. Although, our campus footprint is small, it’s located up on a high breezy hill, surrounded by tall indigenous trees of Borneo which overlook the seaside and city below. I believe it is important to balance my students tech instruction time with nature. With the use of mobile hand-held devices such as the iPad, I think students can get the best of both worlds and do so at the same time. I can take students outside and sit them under a nice big shady tree while they work on iPad apps. Children can feel the breeze, hear the birds, and soak up the vitamin D while writing, reading and discussing learning.
I want it all. I want my children to grow up with all the skills necessary to succeed in this tech fast world. I want them to appreciate nature and the amazing beauty it beholds. I want to help protect the planet. I want to get rich teaching kids these important understandings. Yes, I want it all.
How can we continue to use and integrate technology with students and still have nature be their iTouch?