ESCI 302 Final reflection

Here is a closer look at the visuals





Here is the link to my blog #5

Inquiry instead of boxes.- #6

esci 6Inquiry based, interdisciplinary learning is beneficial to environmental education in many ways.  Bringing in environmental education into other subjects and realms in the classroom, allows students to engage on a much deeper level with environmental concerns.   The environment becomes more than just a science concern.  In Language Arts we can learn to write letters calling for action, in Social Studies we can learn see that caring for the environment is part of our social responsibility and how the environmental concerns affect our communities.  It brings these concerns to a more local level that young children, can see and understand the impact.  Also incorporating environmental education into our daily classroom lives allows students to start at their level to begin to make an impact while, learning what needs to be done in a larger way to make a global impact.  It is not so overwhelming and scary to small children to start with small concerns.  It also develops a sense of responsibility at young age, that hopefully grows as the children grow.  Most of all interdisciplinary studies of the environment take it from a just science concern to a concern that affects all parts of our lives.  Children will then be able to find their own reasons, to act on their level.  Inquiry cycles can take you places you never thought where connected.

In terms of environmental inquiry cycles, the only one that I have ever been apart of was the one we did for this class.  I have guided inquiry cycles in the past, when I homeschooled my older children.  In one instance it was a very open cycle.  At the time I didn’t know he was engaged in an inquiry cycle.  I thought he was just following his interests and because as homeschoolers, we didn’t have to look at outcomes and indicators, I could allow it.  He took his interest from airplanes and their design, to aerodynamics, to how birds flew and their anatomy.  He delved into the two world wars.  In this inquiry cycle, all I did was take him to the library for information and books (no google at that time) and answered questions when I could.  He learned so much more than I would have ever thought to teach him or could have taught him on the topic.   Almost 15 years later, he still retains that knowledge.  As I go through my journey to be a teacher, I wonder how I can bring that type of inquiry and interest into my classroom with so many students.  I know we can cover every subject and that students will learn so much, but how do you do that in a classroom with 20 or more students.  It was a very easy thing to do with just three students and no outcomes and indicators to worry about.

What is in a name? Blog #5

When I take a walk with my boys, I often feel that it needs to be an educational lesson.  I guide them on what we are seeing, naming things asking questions like what is that tree? why is it green in the winter? Those things I feel are important for them to learn.  Why do I feel knowing the names is important?

Naming things makes it more efficient to describe something but more than that naming something often shows a form of ownership.  We get a cat or dog and we name it, to distinguish from other pets and we want to distinguish it because we consider it ours, we want everyone to know its ours.  During the blanket exercise, it became very clear just how much the settler invaders as Newberry calls us strived for and coveted ownership of the land.  They didn’t want to just use the land they wanted to possess it, at any expense.  I think our tendency to want to make sure our children know the names of everything, is because we are perpetuating the idea of ownership, passing that ownership to children.  We think we got the land fair and square through the treaties, but once you know about the intent of the treaties you begin to see, it wasn’t fair at all.

Maybe as future teachers and possibly parents, we need to instead of naming things just allow our students/children to engage on the land.  We need to let them use their senses to appreciate what we name.  Listen to the birds, smell the air, feel the dirt, to see that there is so much more to the land, than ownership.  That wilderness is all around us, we don’t have to go to remote places that perceive to be free of people and modern amenities we can experience it right where we are.


Experiencing through story. Blog #4

20180317_110023Our prompt for this week is to write about an experience from the last week.  Last week we read/watched the Lorax and went to the water treatment facility.  We also read Witness to the Rain, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

I am going to focus on my experience of the reading.  I found it the most pleasant aspect of the week.  I have never been a big fan of the Lorax, not sure why and the water treatment plant visit left me ill for a day or two after.  I couldn’t shake the chemical smell from there for a couple of days, so it wasn’t a very pleasant experience.  Not all experiences need to be pleasant to be written about, but I am choosing to write something I found pleasant. I need pleasant, I need calm, I need peace this week, this semester.

Kimmerer’s story about the rain brought about feelings of pleasantness, calm, and peace.  In my first entries I talked about my connection to nature through water.   I love the rain, not necessarily the getting wet part, but watching, listening, even being out feeling it.  As I read the chapter, I felt myself smiling a rarity in this busy dreary never-ending winter semester.  I found myself relaxing.  I was with Kimmerer in that forest.  I could see the drops forming and dripping in the different ways.  I heard the drops plop, bionk into the puddle or the streaming.  I saw myself catching the drops trying to keep the drop intact.  I felt my claustrophobia kick, being under that log, reading faster to escape.  When Kimmerer, talked about how wet and cold she felt, how she wanted to go in but didn’t.  I was silently hoping she would stay out just about longer, I didn’t want the rain to end, I wanted to continue experiencing the rain.

The story left me feeling like I was there, and I am ready for and impatient for the spring rains.  Maybe instead of watching from my window, I will go out and experience the drops for real when they come.


Wall Kimmerer, Robin. (2013). Witness to the Rain, in Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants, pp. 293-300. Minnesota, MN: Milkweed Editions.

Whats in it for us- Blog #3

What does embodiment mean in regards to climate change and ecoliteracy?

The theme from all our course readings that seems to be resonating me the most is that we need to be aware of our environment and we need to appreciate it before we can be eco literate.   I think we also need to be aware of everything the environment can give to us, not just what meets our materialistic needs.

Robin Wall Kimmerer in her story Sitting in a Circle, talks about all the things that we can get from the cattail. She also talks about all the things the Maple trees provide for her community in Maple Nation.  I think we often take for granted and do not consciously think in depth what we can get from the environment other than the common the trees clean the air for us. In order to fully embrace and embody eco literacy, we need to truly see what we would be losing if we continue the way we are.

It is like the once-ler in the Lorax, he starts out thinking its just one tree, and we need the material item that the tree gives us more than we need the abstract things the tree provides.  Then we proceed from there, well its just 2 trees and then 10, then its whole forests, but there are lots more and then we eventually have large scale problems, such as climate change.

David Sobel says that it is difficult for young children to understand the abstract concepts of climate change, and I agree.  The young children though are not to young to understand concepts of what the environment provides us in a tangible way.  Things such as the worms in the ground give the plants good nutrients, trees provide shade and without shade, everything gets to warm and doesn’t cool off. Tree provide homes for animals who through their activities transport pollen and seeds so more plants and trees grow, feeding more animals etc.  When children are outside and can appreciate these basic ideas, they become more empathetic and then advocates.  Embodiment begins with appreciation of what we see, to want to keep that more than the material things.  As teachers we need to find ways beyond the 3R’s to get our students outside and see beyond materialism.


Wall Kimmerer, Robin. (2013). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants. Minnesota, MN: Milkweed Editions.


Braiding our eco-literate ideas together.

A braid is three separate strands of similar material that is woven together and the crossing of two pieces makes a connection.  Two strands connect and then the third connects with one then the other forming a beautiful plait full of connections.  I chose Camryn and Ashley’s poems to be the two strands that complement my poem or strand.

One of the common themes that I see in all three poems, is the importance of being to be able to be outside to enjoy nature. Camryn, says it’s a place of enjoyment, and curiosity, Ashley thanks her co worker for noticing the fish in the creek, and from my poem, “hands in the dirt,” “playgrounds, exploring,” give us the clues that being able to enjoy nature is an important part of eco literacy. Ashley and I interweave our two strands together, with the importance of children in eco literacy with their natural curiosity.  Camryn’s statement about living in a healthy and safe environment complements and completes that section of the braid nicely.

Another theme among all three poems is the disappearance of animals and their habitats. Ashley is quite blunt about species dying where as Camryn comments that environment is important to every living thing and that animals are vital to human way of life, a much gentler approach.  I think my approach with the disappearing habits is somewhere between the bluntness of Ashley and subtly of Camryn.  Neither is approach is right or wrong it is simply a section of the braid that losing our animals and their habitats is a concern in eco literacy and one that we support.

I could go through and pick out and weave a very intricate braid of the many similarities between the three poems.  What is more difficult is to find the differences.  After careful thought, I think the biggest difference is in the actions to be taken.  In my poem, I suggest thinking on a bigger scale, with zero-waste events, like was attempted at the 2018 Super Bowl.  Where as Ashley and Camryn speak of the smaller scale recycling.  There is nothing wrong with the small-scale approach, but a big scale approach may be considered more often.

Another difference is that only in my poem is there recognition of the long-term effects of our actions beyond 20 years.  I refer to being aware of what we are doing in terms of our negative actions and how those may have longer lasting effects than we think, however the positive is also true.  Perhaps the little things we are doing now such as home recycling is going to have a bigger impact than we think. I do believe that we do need to keep educating ourselves and if we keep trying to add the little things they may add up to big things.

Robin Kimmerer (2013) in the chapter Maple Nation, talks about doing something and I think this story is the elastic that holds the braid together. She shares in this story of how people in the community complain about the way things are in the town. The leaders in the town, Kimmerer (2013) says often tell the complainers, to show up to a meeting”.  Meaning do something about it, make your voice heard.  In relation to our poems, it is great to share our feelings, but we need to do something, make our voices heard.  As teachers, perhaps the biggest thing we can do to make our voices heard is make our students eco literate. Get them outside, appreciate the outdoors, get their hand dirty so that they know the importance and beauty of what they could lose.



Wall Kimmerer, R. (2013). Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide, in Braiding Sweetgrass:

IndigenousWisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants, pp. 167-174.    Minnesota, MN: Milkweed Editions.

Learn! Do! Teach!

Too Hot! Too Cold! Too Dry! Too Wet!

Disappearing animals

Disappearing Habitats

Disappearing playgrounds

Wait! Stop!

WE can fix this

Big Things

Long term 20, 30 50 year impacts of our actions

Be aware, Learn

Zero-waste big events

Think Big, do! Learn!

Small Things

Playgrounds, biking, exploring

Hands in the dirt

Giggles, wiggly worms

Food fresh from the ground, Yum!

Learn! Do! Teach!

Frog and crickets singing

Polar bears lounging

Habitats thriving

Big things small things

Be the stone that creates the ripple

Learn! Do! Teach!

Many sides of activism

On January 19th and 20th we were required to attend some sessions of the Apathy in Action conference put on by RPIRG at the University of Regina.  I was only able to attend Fridays’ sessions.  I found most of the sessions very informative in content and I learned a great deal about how different activism looks.

Each talk I listened to, went about their activism for their chosen cause in different ways.  Bernadette Wagner gave an author talk about her book about uranium and the impact the Saskatchewan uranium industry has had through out history.  She said her activism comes in the form of her writing and in her performances with the Sacred Web group.  Next Michelle Stewart and Prescott Demas representing Colonialism No More, shared their experiences with activism.  Their group pitched tents in spring and summer outside the Indigenous and Northern Affairs office, in response to a call to action from the youth Atawascape to bring attention and action to the conditions youth and children are facing on some of the reserves.  Michelle and Prescott also shared that their group also helps others set up demonstrations.  They also pointed out that you don’t have to be on the front lines to be active in a cause, there are many background jobs.  Finally,  Mia Bell spoke about Fat Feminism.  Her message to me was that another take on activism is to be aware of how we move about in spaces and the words we choose to use.  For example, she challenged those with thinner bodies to think about when they sat in the lecture theaters at the University of Regina (U of R) how would someone living in a fat body(her words), find those seating options.  She said and I agree that for larger people the lecture theaters, especially in the Classroom building are very discriminatory.  Larger people simply do not fit well and the little fold over desks simply aren’t an option for large people.  This affects class choices for many students at the U of R.  She then shared a few other examples to be aware of.   These examples also tie in very nicely with Robin Kimmerer’s ideas in her chapter Maple Nation. Where she tells us that a prominent teacher in town and Kimmerer’s own parents share the sentiment that you can’t complain about the way things are if you don’t do something, as the teacher in the story says “attend a damn meeting”. So where does my new found knowledge leave me. What am I going to do?

I do strongly believe in Kimmerer’s statement that you can’t complain if you don’t do something. However, I am a mom, a wife and full time mature university student.  Right now, those are my main priorities in that order and when I am done attending to those things, there is very little of me left to give.  In thinking about the various ways that activism looks like, I maybe able to do a couple of small things.  Like next time I see a camp and my boys ask what its about, rather than saying I don’t know, I could make the time to either stop or go back at another time and talk to the group with my boys.  Or I could write that letter to the president of the U of R like I thought about when I entered the lecture theater in the classroom building and found my body doesn’t fit so well and there is no other option for me or my other classmates in the same situation. They are just little things but for now, they will have to do.


Indoor girl, finds connection to environment.

This blog post is a bit of a challenge for me to write. I very much related to Kimmerer’s students, and their explanation of why things layered they way they do. I don’t know more than the common terms for environmental species and really, I don’t care to. I am not an outside person in any way, shape or form.  I prefer to go from my climate controlled home, to my climate controlled vehicle, to my almost always climate controlled destination. Given that, you can imagine the difficulty I had coming up with a time I felt connected to the environment.  After some thinking, and beginning to believe that I would not come up with anything, I realized that my connection to the environment is water.

I very much love watching and listening to running water.  I enjoy looking at photos of pristine lakes, majestic waterfalls, and gently running streams.  I enjoy watching and listening to the rain, water running and slapping gently against the shore.

The one time my connection to the environment and water stands out is when I was fortunate enough to visit San Diego.  My husband and I spent a week there.  We had a long list of things we wanted to see and do.  The top of the list, an absolute must was to visit a beach and the Pacific Ocean.

We arrived at a, mostly. deserted beach only a couple of tourists and surfers to be found.  I was in awe of being at the ocean.  I just stood and watched and listened.  I felt instantly calm, and at peace, a wonderful feeling.  As I stood and watched, nothing else mattered, I heard no other sounds, but the roar of the waves.  The waves were very high, and came in fast.  My husband and I speculated that there must be a storm out in the ocean somewhere that was generating such waves.  Sitting at the shore we watched the surfers, making bets as to if they would get up and ride the wave.  When we tired we of watching the surfers we turned our attention to the waves themselves.  The power and force of the waves was so impressive.  It put into perspective, just how devastating and forceful waves can be.  However, the even with the realization of the destructiveness that water can bring there was something so mesmerizing about watching the shapes, and patterns the waves took.  The time just melted away from us, as we sat hypnotized by the roar and power of the water.  I have never had time slip away from me like that when I have been outside before.  I hope to someday go back and experience that calmness again. 20180114_185020