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Example 2: Art in the Park Three teachers combined their classes for an outdoor arts experience in a local riverside park. Our idea was to use the outdoor setting for inspi- ration, and to have mixed grade level groups participating in three distinct art activities. One teacher facilitated a drumming and dance work- shop. Another conducted a visual arts project and the third assisted with poetry writing. At the end of each workshop the students delightedly performed for each other, debriefed in a circle, and celebrated the results. This illustrates how the varied strengths and interests of staff in a school can combine to generate a rich and varied learning experience for students. The location could have been anywhere, but having lots of space in a local park worked best.

Community Partnerships Collaboration

Since that first year, all staff members have spent more and more time outside with students. As we mentored each other, the program gained momentum and was adopted school-wide. As part of a fairly organic process, different grade classes often work together on projects.With more and more collaboration, broader friendships have developed between staff members and between students in different grades. The school population is becoming like a super large family displaying more and more responsibility and caring for one another. For the staff, this understanding and friendship has spawned even more willingness to work collaboratively.We are experiencing renewed enthusiasm for our chosen career. Often more work feels like less work and at the end of the day there is more success, satisfaction and camaraderie amongst both students and staff.

Example 1: Butterfly Garden The grade three class had a visioning meeting to determine what a butterfly garden would look like. They discussed who would be involved in the various parts of the project, the timeline for the project and what materials were needed. They also discussed how to raise the money they needed and involve the local community. But as the project evolved, ideas were revised, and new ideas were incorporated. The grade twos and fives became involved in a still-larger garden project for the front of the school by adding raised vegetable beds and a large garden to grow hybrid squash for a local food festival. Community groups became involved as did parents, who helped with weekend watering. The resulting gardens are wonderful and productive. But it did not become an adult garden, nor did it follow the original vision. One can clearly see the influence of the young students who cre- ated and adapted it along the way to suit new ideas. But true to the initial goal, the garden is in place and the butterflies have come, all due to the students’ diligent research and col- laborative work. And they will happily take you on a guided tour and explain everything to you!

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From the beginning, we realized that we needed help.While our resident “internet queen” was on a maternity leave, she spent much time

searching for mentors who could provide help and schools that were already doing what we hoped to do.With her help, we found partners and established relationships with people and organizations that had the experience we were looking for. Local enviro-education experts provided tips and coaching and most importantly encouragement to go forward. Our local government`s greening committee provided a small grant and invited us to participate in their projects. This led us to other local citizens and staff at government agencies who had projects of their own that we could be part of, and by partici- pating, we would help them meet their mandates. By the end of the third year, we were involved with

about thirty organizations and had to start being choosey. Now we go proactively to organizations with ideas of how we could help them. Partnerships are key and also nurture a col- laborative approach to learning. Students see how working together brings results. Even the mayor came to the school this year to ask our students for their opinion on an issue.We have also learned to use parents as community liaisons, since they often know more about what`s happening in the commu- nity than staff members and many have useful connections that we do not have. With a vested interest in helping out, their contributions have been invaluable.

Example 1: Flying Squirrels A parent introduced the grade fours to Steve Patterson, the “Flying Squirrel Guy”. He does presentations with flying squirrels, shares his knowledge, and over the past 2 years, he has helped us to establish and monitor 20 nesting boxes in our area. Having learned about flying squirrels and for- est ecology, our students have shared their information with provincial Ministry of Natural Resources staff. This learning has motivated them to make connections with the natural world and their community.

Example 2: Redside Dace This endangered small minnow needs clean water and a lot of shade. Partnering with Ontario Streams, the grade fours have


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