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Welcoming the Newest ABNL Teachers

Well, it was a great week welcoming a new crew of Annie's teachers from all around the Lansing, Jackson, and Kalamazoo areas. Tuesday and Wednesday were packed with ideas, inspiration, and energy as these teachers shared their fresh take on the experiential learning that takes place at The BIG Lesson. It's going to be a great year.

Tuesday began at Harris Nature Center with introductions and a first look. It was a beautiful fall day: the sky was blue, the air was crisp, and "the wind whispered in the breeze" (that's a direct quote from one of our teachers...poetry in the morning? Yes, please!).

Then, after learning about the history and components of the program, it was time for an epic discovery walk. We counted at least 11 activities to engage students as they explored the natural world, plus a handful of tips-and-tricks for managing time, space, and people during this essential part of The BIG Lesson's programming.

In order, the activities are: using a frame to help students focus, finding shapes in nature, creating a sound map, using paint swatches to search for colors, pair-and-share walk, and drawing a map of where the discovery walk went.

From there, it was lunch and a presentation of a binder that is chock-full of resources for teachers as they embark on their ABNL week.

Then, Shirley taught a lesson on drawing in nature using loupes, bringing me right back to the days when she was my art teacher. Shirley is so good at making art feel accessible and fun for anyone. Some things never change!

The day closed with a full hour of observation time out in the woods. Just as we have our students do, teachers pulled up stools, got comfortable, and got in touch with their senses as they wrote, drew, or just sat and took it all in. For many, an hour can feel like a long time...and for many as well, that hour is the best hour they spent during the day. I loved seeing that "wondrous" expression on teachers' faces during observation time, no doubt the same look I will see on their students' faces when it's their turn for The BIG Lesson.

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