Thursday, August 20, 2009

Partner with a Local Nature Center

Some schools are forming partnerships with local environmental centers and organizations to expand students' access to outdoor resources. Asking a local nature center to lead classes on bird-watching or other types of nature observation is one easy way to create a meaningful outdoor-learning experience.

Connect with a Natural-Education Initiative

Advocacy groups and initiatives aimed at connecting kids with nature are forming nationwide. Nature-education proponent Richard Louv is chairman of the nonprofit Children and Nature Network, which has identified and encouraged more than 50 regional, state, and local campaigns that are helping reintroduce children to nature. Go to: Some great articles at this site.Use the network's Web site to find a group that can help connect students with nature. Or you can use materials provided by the network to start your own group.

Network with Other Professionals

Teachers cannot always do it alone. Build relationships with other professionals invested in expanding outdoor opportunities. In New York City, a coalition of environmentalists, teachers (including early-childhood and outdoor educators), health professionals, businesspeople, and government leaders make up the Long Island Nature Collaborative for Kids. Go to: works on projects with museums, libraries, community centers, schools, and other organizations to promote and create outdoor-learning opportunities for children. The group also trains educators and landscape architects who specialize in designing outdoor natural-learning spaces.

Bring the Forest to Campus

Small changes to a school's outdoor space can dramatically enhance the opportunities to use nature as a teaching tool. Planting a school garden or pushing for a green playground makeover can bring nature to the campus.The Dimensions Educational Research Foundation is collaborating with various organizations to develop a network of outdoor-learning spaces at schools, libraries, museums, and other public places. These nature-exploration classrooms are equipped for hands-on, outdoor learning in science, art, music, movement, and other areas. Go to:

Gear Up

Sensible precautions and attention to safety make outdoor learning possible in all but the most extreme conditions. Educating parents about the benefits of outdoor exploration will encourage families to dress their children appropriately, and schools can also require proper gear. Outdoor programs may also want to have outerwear on hand for students who show up unequipped; thrift stores often have affordable children's gear for sale.Andrea Mills is an early-childhood teacher who has taught in both the United States and Europe. She lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband and sons.This article was also published in the September 2009 issue of Edutopia magazine as "Five Ways to Bring Some Walden to Your Class".

Share some ways you bring your students to nature or bring nature to your classrrom.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ways to Increase Parent Involvement

Many of you, staff and parents, want to know how to get more parents involved in your school and their child's education.

Here are some ideas from two parents who set out to do just that at their school. This is part of an article from Edutopia:
  • Be a champion. Time permitting, volunteer in the school and get to know teachers and administrators. Gaining their trust will encourage them to help you sell the school.
  • Host a conversation. Invite parents from your school and other parents considering school options -- and encourage them to invite others. Host the meetings in a parent's home: the more personal, the better. Parents believe other parents more readily than school staff or marketing materials. Encourage participants to ask questions, give answers, and communicate as concerned parents. Nothing will sell your school better than parents who love it.
  • Start a blog. (Or Facebook or Twitter your school.) Chronicle your experiences and those of other families (with their permission), and remember that your goal is to convince people to consider sending their kids to your great school. Be honest, but accentuate the positive, and stay on point. The Peters's blog about Henry has been a well-received source of information about their school.
  • Use the news. Write your own news -- editorials, commentaries, letters to the editor -- and help your school gain visibility. Get to know the education reporters for your local newspaper and television news program, and be a resource for them. Encourage them to write feature articles, which are great tools to help parents see the positive side of your school.
  • Be consistent. Meet with parents regularly and predictably; if possible, monthly meetings are good. When posting to a blog or to Facebook, or when Twittering, do so frequently. Weekly posts are good, but make it relevant and important rather than frivolous.
  • Prepare successors. No matter how effective you are, your child will eventually age out of the school. Who will carry the torch when you move on? Don't leave it to chance.
    Russell Scott Smith lives in Connecticut and teaches at Norwalk High School.
    This article was also published in the September 2009 issue of Edutopia magazine as "How to Sell Your School".
  • To read other "how-to-involve families" articles, go to:

Have a wonderful day,


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Free U.S. Dept. of Education Grant Newsletter

Is your school, like most, trying to find money for Power Packs and coaching? One way to supplement your budget for professional development is to write a grant proposal. But first, of course, you have to find the "perfect" grant. So where do you look? One place is a grant newsletter and I have a free one that you can sign up to receive in your email on a regular basis. It comes from Peter Kickbush and the U. S. Department of Education.

If you want to sign up, follow these easy instructions:
How can I subscribe?
* Address email to:
* Write in the message's body: subscribe edinfo your name
* Example: subscribe edinfo Sue Pearson

If you decide this newsletter is not for you, there are directions in the email explaining how to unsubscribe.

I intend to post some grants that might be of interest so keep checking back here. If you find a grant and would like to share, make sure you post it on the blog.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Welcome-Vote for classroom project

Welcome to the HET blog! You may pose questions, offer suggestions, share a story or two, and find support as you implement HET (Highly Effective Teaching). Check back every day to read what has been posted.
For today, I'll share this possibility from Sonic-love their lime slushies!

NEW Up to $400 for classroom projects from SONIC restaurantsOrganization: SONIC and Eligibility: Public school teachers Value: Multiple awards of up to $400 Deadline: October 1, 2009
From August 31 through October 1, customers who purchase a small-l through Route 44-sized fountain or frozen drink at SONIC, they can go online and vote for their favorite teacher’s classroom project. Each drink will have a unique code used to place one vote for projects registered. SONIC will fund up to $100,000 of projects with the most votes each Friday for five weeks during the campaign. Though the voting campaign doesn’t begin until late August, teachers are encouraged to visit by August 15 to register their project.
Look forward to seeing you tomorrow-post a grant if you have one or an idea.