Almaden Elementary Reflection:
This year Almaden was under a restrictive schoolwide schedule that was keenly focused on in-class core content areas, which curtailed computer lab time that would have been used to complete more of the online collaboration pieces of this project during the alloted time frame. One workaround enabled Almaden students to access hard copies of the River Glen newsletters to read and respond in writing, as part of our English Language Development (ELD) time. That said, the design and spirit of this collaborative project added dimensions of purpose to our field work studies that did not exist in previous years.
The BioSITE program provided our students with a year-long field study on our local creek, its watershed, and the impact of man-made and natural sources of pollution. The hours of time spend wading in the creek to perform water quality testing and observe habitat over the course of many months brought aquatic ecology to life along with a far keener understanding of our local environment. Almaden students learned how scientists collect data for water quality monitoring and that this data contributes toward municipal decisions in the planning and maintenance of water resources. Much of this learning was shared through our website (Almadenelementary.org).
But this collaboration took our studies into the next realm; what students, their families, and concerned citizens can do to participate in environmental stewardship. They learned from Zanker School that parents and neighbors can be surveyed about their awareness and concerns for environmental issues, and that information can be put to use. They learned that students can utilize digital technology to create videos with important messages for the community to raise awareness about things that can be done at home and at the community level. They learned from River Glen that there is much more to learn from research efforts on water resource issues and that newsletter writing can give voice to their findings and opinions, as well as contribute to the general knowledge base. They also learned that the beauty and serenity of creeks and rivers are important to the health of the human psyche, which can be creatively expressed through poetry.
In all, our students were quite intrigued by the idea that two other schools were visiting their BioSITE website pages and seeing their creek studies work, and that it mattered to these other students, helping to inform and reinforce their work. The time we lacked to respond online personally was the piece I most regret. Under normal scheduling circumstances, this portion of the project would easily have been carried out.