Education Quarterly
Issue Summer 2012
Dear (Contact First Name),

Photo credit: L. Romano

Happy dog days of summer!  Maybe you've found time to collect some phenology observations and even had a chance to find some downtime.  Perhaps you are a teacher gearing up for back-to-school madness or are a nature center educator ready for a fresh look at fall programming...  


I'd like to share with you some helpful information for bringing Nature's Notebook to your program.  We are beginning to build a collection of resources for volunteer training and classroom educators, so take a look at some of the great things your colleagues have created! In the upcoming editions of the education newsletter I will be highlighting the work that you are doing.  If you have resources to share in our Education Clearinghouse, or if you have implemented Nature's Notebook into your program and would like to share anything on the USA-NPN Education Page, please let me know!


As we head into fall take some time to notice the changes around you.  I encourage you to send ideas and questions to me for inclusion in future newsletters.  Explore what we are adding to the website and see how programs are teaching about climate change and phenology.  As educators we work best learning from, and building on, each other's great work.  It is an ever-changing journey made more exciting by learning experiences in the natural world. 





Educational Tip of the Quarter

SPOTLIGHT on Volunteer Training Programs

SPOTLIGHT on Nature's Notebook in the Classroom




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Nature's Notebook
Educational Tip
Goal Setting 

Using Nature's Notebook in a classroom or site-based program can be intimidating and overwhelming if you are just beginning.  No matter what your program looks like, first think about what you want your students or participants to get out of the experience.  Will it be a one time event (great!) or a series of trips outdoors (better!) or does the experience solidify not only outdoor education goals but also achieve or enhance something larger (best!)? 


If you have a visitor center and you are charged with teaching visitors about water, flora and fauna, or climate change, how might you tie Nature's Notebook into existing interpretive displays and walks?  And how might Nature's Notebook help you achieve your organization's goals? If you are a middle school classroom teacher, how can you implement a monitoring program for a semester or a year and touch on skills taught in other non-science subjects?  


For example, if you are teaching about native vs. invasive species at your site, you might first develop a science question (e.g. Are american alligator populations decreasing in the Everglades as populations of invasive snakes are increasing?) and encourage visitors to monitor the native for changes. Or use Nature's Notebook to hone observation and reading skills, collect data over multiple years to work on math skills (such as estimation, percentages, or graphing), or use it to teach social studies through ethnophenology activities. For more specific suggestions, contact me, I'm happy to help.  


Your first step should be to decide what your end goal(s) are going to be. Outlining program goals can be very satisfying! Goals do not need to be earth-shattering, rather, they can be simple and to the point.  Every program has its limitations, whether they be fiscal or staff-related, but the more creative you can be, the better the experience.  There are lots of program planning resources available from a variety of organizations.  My favorite is the Cooperative Extension Logic Model Process.  For more information about this process and to view a copy of the Logic Model I've created for USA-NPN, take a look at Page 18 of our 5-Year Education Plan.

Volunteer Training Programs 

Signs of the Seasons: 

A Maine Phenology Project.


With dual goals of increasing climate literacy among Maine citizens and helping climate scientists gather critical phenology data, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant launched a citizen science monitoring program called Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program (SOS) in 2010, with the support of numerous partners. The program engages citizens of all ages in observing and recording phenology in their own backyards and communities. Signs of the Seasons volunteers help scientists, resource managers, and others document, understand, and predict changes that affect Maine's environment, economy, and cultural heritage. In its first eighteen months, Signs of the Seasons staff have received 650 requests for training, and trained 350 volunteers. Over 14,000 phenology observations have been contributed to the National Phenology Network's online database, which it hosts and maintains for partner organizations. Current participants in the program include formal K-12 teachers and students, informal education organizations such as UMaine Cooperative Extension's 4-H Youth Development and Master Gardener programs, land trusts, parks, public libraries, environmental monitoring groups, and interested citizens of all ages.


Learn how USA-NPN is partnering with Cooperative Extension programs around the country.  

Nature's Notebook in the Classroom

Flight of the Pollinators - Phenology from a Pollinator's Perspective

Flight of the Pollinators Curriculum


This hands-on classroom activity is designed to help participants experience the importance of plant phenology from a pollinator's perspective.  Participants learn why pollinators visit flowers and what color, shape, and size of flowers are preferred as well as learn about data collection using protocols available for Nature's Notebook species.  


Created by Susan Mazer, Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), Brian Haggerty, PhD Candidate in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB, and Alisa Hove, Professor of Biology at Warren Wilson College, this activity has been used both in the classroom as well as in non-formal educational settings.  It aligns with Science Standards and can be used in many subject areas. Originally designed as part of the Phenological Literacy: Understanding through Science and Stewardship Program, it has recently been submitted for inclusion in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Birds, Butterflies, Bullfrogs and Beyond:  Bring Biology to Life through Citizen Science publication.   

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