This year has seen a fundamental shift in the way our ecology program works.
In previous years I organized field experiences for every class at every grade level. Together we ventured forth into the wild places. I did classes before the trip to prep them, and often after the trip to debrief. I sent out weekly messages telling my schedule and asking for parent volunteers to help lead the explorations. Those messages were sent to my EcologyVolunteers email list, and often re-printed in Green Notes as Mr. Leki's Blog, and in the Waters Elementary School website.
This year all that has changed. I have taken on a full class load (17 classes per week), virtually. All the lesson plans have been posted on the watersecology.org website. These are updated daily, and it is a working document, a work in progress, open to our community. For the past ten weeks Jules Peterson-Green and I have been producing video segments to use in the virtual ecology program. This means that songs, field excursions, science shorts, invitations, interviews are all posted and available for our families to view, and re-view. It has been a big shift for us. Very different and difficult. Our videos make it possible for us to show things, rather than just talk about them, and to introduce our students to places and concepts with a familiar figure guiding them. Because all the clips are available to our school families, we hope that our students are sharing them with you. Each lesson has special messages aimed at parents and families.
We cannot bring your child out to the wild places. But you can.
This is how the program has emerged. Imagine each segment as part of a cycle that repeats:
Waters Virtual Ecology Program
*Waters Ecology produces lessons and video and present to classes;
*watersecology.org posts all the lesson plans, resources and messages on website;
*parents, students, families check out the website and the suggestions for outings;
*families venture forth to the wild places to explore content provided by the lesson and website;
*families self document their outings with video, journal work, and/or photos;
*families and students share their documentation and adventures during classroom meet ups;
*watersecology adds the new content to the website;
*new lessons are created and shared during the next meeting;
Repeat! Until the end of pandemic!
So, you can see that this year every family has become essential to the student's experience of field ecology.
We know that every family cannot go on all the field offerings, but many can, and have. Many have, and will, share with their classmates.
This puts a special load on parents, but it also opens up a unique role and experience. It is an avenue for families
to have reason to get out into our wild and special places more often, with a task and a goal in mind, but also with an open-ended invitation to experience
the serendipity of exploration, the surprise of discovery.
We welcome you to this mutual adventure and welcome your feedback. Remember that the watersecology.org website is a working document and archive of the entire ecology program. Please visit, and re-visit. Learn the songs and sing along. Offer up your own art, poetry and music for us to add.
Our most recent video posting was the story that I normally tell around the campfire at Waters garden, with baked potatoes and hot cider.
This year it is on video, and we have included a written version for you to use and share. We hope you enjoy it.
We're Okay! How are you?
Blessing of the season to all, the first snow on colored leaves, first frost coming,
Pete Leki and the Team Waters Ecology