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MWEE Interesting Reading


Leave No Child Inside
AS A BOY, I PULLED OUT DOZENS—perhaps hundreds—of survey stakes in a vain effort to slow the bulldozers that were taking out my woods to make way for a new subdivision. Had I known then what Ive since learned from a developer, that I should have simply moved the stakes around to be more effective, I would surely have done that too. So you might imagine my dubiousness when, a few weeks after the publication of my 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, I received an e-mail from Derek Thomas, who introduced himself as vice chairman and chief investment officer of Newland Communities, one of the nation's largest privately owned residential development companies. "I have been reading your new book," he wrote, "and am profoundly disturbed by some of the information you present."

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The Naturalization of Playgrounds
Instead of being designed like a well manicured adult environment, naturalized playgrounds are designed from a child's perspective as informal, even wild, and as a place that responds to children's development tasks and their sense of place, time and need to interact with the nature. They are designed to stimulate children's natural curiosity, imagination, wonder and discovery learning as well as nurture children's connectiveness with nature (White & Stoecklin 1998).

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Nature and Child Development
These effective encounters with animals, and with nature in general, tend to be so significant that most adults looking back on their childhood cite the natural world as an emotionally critical aspect of their youth. Psychologist Rachel Sebba reports that an extraordinary 96.5 percent of all adults she studied, who represented a wide range of age, gender, and other demographic groups and were raised in both urban and nonurban settings, identified the outdoors as being of critical emotional significance during their childhood. Moreover, the natural settings recalled were typically quite simple and ordinary such as a backyard or nearby park.

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Schoolyard Habitat Projects Bring Natural Benefits to School and Students
This brief article by Mary Rivkin is an important reminder of the importance of bringing natural habitats to school grounds as places for natural learning. When the article was written in 1997, there was a burgeoning movement in the U.S. to have schoolyard habitat projects—places of natural and rich learning, integral to the curriculum, and a respite for teachers, students and the community overall. We've literally lost ground in this respect. The concept remains accessible, important, and healthy. This article is a short, succinct summary of the natural benefits afforded from schoolyard habitat projects.(Synthesis)

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Last Child on the Couch
Our kids are in truble. Maybe not your kids, but their friends, or perhaps a teenager down the street. Two whole generations-- starting with people entering their thirties now--have grown up with what authors like Richard Louv label "nature-deficit disorder." Despite being America's most environmentally aware segment, many of these young people have few real connections to the outdoors. They are taught to hug a tree, but not how to climb one. Fortunately, the cure isn't a mystery. Our kids need to move. Hike, bike, paddle, skate, walk, run, whatever--just move. And they need to do it outdoors, both for the exercise and the exposure to sunshine and fresh air. Introduce kids to nature at a young age, studies show, and you give them a foundation for lifelong health, fitness, and self-confidence. At a national level, the Outdoor Foundation, the Children & Nature Network, and First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative are training leaders and developing tool kits that help parents and educators make a difference.

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Charlotte's Webpage: Why children shouldn't have the world at their fingertips
THOMAS EDISON WAS A GREAT INVENTOR but a lousy prognosticator. When he proclaimed in 1922 that the motion picture would replace textbooks in schools, he began a long string of spectacularly wrong predictions regarding the capacity of various technologies to revolutionize teaching. To date, none of them—from film to television—has lived up to the hype. Even the computer has not been able to show a consistent record of improving education.

"There have been no advances over the past decade that can be confidently attributed to broader access to computers," said Stanford University professor of education Larry Cuban in 2001, summarizing the existing research on educational computing. "The link between test-score improvements and computer availability and use is even more contested." Recent research, including a University of Munich study of 174,000 students in thirty-one countries, indicates that students who frequently use computers perform worse academically than those who use them rarely or not at all.

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Watershed: A Successful Voyage into Integrative Learning
By Mark Springer
Thedream of a fully integrative curriculum is achievable—in an ordinary public school! Listen to the author as he chronicles the adventures found in a full-day experiential program in which motivated 40 seventh graders use real life activities and become responsible for their own education. "The Watershed story is a remarkable and often touching chronology. It is inspirational as well as informative, honest, and reality-based."—from the Foreword.

The Watershed Whole-Learning Activities Book
By Mark Springer
For those who delighted in the inspirational story, Watershed: A Successful Voyage Into Integrative Learning, this companion resource will provide the plans and procedures for carrying out comparable projects in their own classrooms. 14 major activities/projects, such as "Hanging Timelines," "Three-Dimensional Topographic Map," and "Rock Concerts," are described in ample detail with rationale.

Watershed Investigations: 12 Labs for High School Students
By Jennifer Soukhome
As urbanization and populations increase, it becomes increasingly more important that we understand the given relationships between the trends in our behavior and the ecological impacts they impart. Of particular importance is the fragile state of a great number of our watersheds, which provide not only drainage areas from our rivers and streams, but also drinking water for human and animal populations alike. Watershed Investigations: 12 Labs for High School Science provides high school educators with a series of broad-based, hands-on experiments designed to help students understand the relationships between human impact and local hydrology. Covering a range of disciplines including geology, chemistry, Earth science, botany, and biology this volume gives educators lesson plans that will interest the student and meet a wide array of state and national curricular standards.

A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids with Nature Through the Seasons
By Rick Van Noy
Van Noy, an English professor and father, chronicles his efforts to turn his children's attention from their television and computer screens to the outdoors. In a series of essays organized mostly by season, he describes a host of outdoor adventures including swimming, hiking, gardening, and fishing with his family.

The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places(1994)
By Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble
Though published more than a decade ago, "The Geography of Childhood" remains as relevant as ever. Written by two fathers who are naturalists, it makes vivid through essays and anecdotes the importance of a direct experience of nature in childhood development.

Natural Playscapes: Creating Outdoor Play Environments for the Soul
By Rusty Keeler
With over 500 photographs and illustrations, Natural Playscapes provides inspiration and guidance for creating places for children of all abilities to discover themselves and the world around them.

No Student Left Indoors: Creating a Field Guide to Your Schoolyard
By Jane Kirkland
This is your opportunity to learn and teach about our planet by helping your students to create a field guide to your schoolyard. Whether you're a nature buff or nature-phobe, a literary genius or writing impaired, artistically talented or one who can't draw a straight line with a ruler, and teaching gifted or challenged students in an urban, suburban, or rural school—you'll wonder why you didn't think of this before.

Science Beyond the Classroom
Edited by Linda Froschauer
Taking science education beyond the classroom provides learning opportunities and experiences for students that just aren't available within school walls, and Science Beyond the Classroom has a wealth of ideas on how to do it successfully. These carefully selected articles from the NSTA journals Science Scope and Science and Children were gathered into a compendium because of the value of informal science education in providing access to those experiences and in tapping into student interests. Science Beyond the Classroom provides an overview of information and ideas—many of them include step-by-step, teacher-tested instructions and guidelines—that can be easily modified and adapted by teachers and others—scout leaders, club sponsors, parents, and home schoolers among them—who want to nurture enthusiasm for science.

Childhood and Nature
By David Sobel
Public discussions of global climate change and other threats to the planet are making children more aware of environmental issues. As increasing numbers of kids come to school wishing to take action, educators want to know how to teach in a way that fosters a love of nature and an understanding of the complexity and seriousness of these issues.

In Childhood and Nature, noted educator David Sobel makes the case that meaningful connections with the natural world don't begin in the rainforest or arctic, but in our own backyards and communities. Based on his observations of recurrent play themes around the world, Sobel articulates seven design principles that can guide teachers in structuring learning experiences for children. Place-based education projects that make effective use of the principles are detailed throughout the book. And while engaged in these projects, students learn language arts, math, science, social studies, as well as essential problem-solving and social skills through involvement with nature and their communities.

The pressures of test preparation, standards, and curriculum frameworks often reduce the study of nature and the environment to a set of facts and general concepts. However, as Childhood and Nature demonstrates, linking curriculum with an engagement in the real world not only provides students with the thinking skills needed for whatever test comes their way, but also helps them grow into responsible citizens and stewards of the earth