The Colorado Branch is our new monthly enewsletter that contains great information about Colorado PLT happenings. Learn about upcoming trainings, educator tips, and valuable resources from this award winning environmental education program.
November 2021 Issue: There Are So Many Reasons to Be Thankful for Trees
We are thankful for our pre-service teachers!
I wanted to thank Project Learning Tree and Colorado State Forest Service for providing such amazing resources to my pre-service teachers at the University of Northern Colorado Center for Urban Education in Denver at the Lowry Center. We were so excited to be in person this fall and having the PLT resources so enhanced this semester. I have 28 students and most of them work as paraprofessionals and come to campus after work for classes.
I have 28 students this year! They are so grateful to get the new Explore Your Environment resource book and also be able to get 2 e- units! These e- units are one of their assignments and they said that they are learning a lot and enjoying the videos of PLT in action.
We still have one more month until the fall semester is over so we will be doing more PLT activities. I am so impressed with the new Explore Your Environment K-8 Activity Guide! And what great online resources! One class time we looked at the Unit of Instruction and worked in small groups. Each student took a different activity and learned about it and then shared it with the others in the group. They discussed the sequence and learning objectives and if they would make any modifications for their future students. This was a great way to get them diving into the new book.
I also brought in different maple leaves and each student got one maple leaf and we compared and they noticed how each leaf is different. We went outside to look at the trees around our campus. We discussed what the bark and roots do for the tree.
I also brought in a doug fir pine cone and a ponderosa pine for each student and we did- I observe/notice, I wonder, and it reminds me of. This was really fun for them to do pairs. I then shared about David Douglas- botanist/scientist from Scotland who came to the US and the Doug fir is named after him.
We have been learning about a different scientist each week. One week, we learned about Suzanne Simard and her research with the wood wide web underground and the amazing things that trees do to help and communicate with each other.
Danielle Ardrey joined my class via Zoom and talked about her job and shared more information about Project Learning Tree. She shared an informative powerpoint about PLT. My students really enjoyed meeting her on Zoom and asking questions about PLT. This was really helpful for them. Thank you Danielle for your time and all your support!
We look forward to our last month together and doing more PLT activities together.
Thank you again for these amazing resources!
Jessica Feld, PLT facilitator
Looking back on a fun, action-packed PLT virtual workshop
By Donna Davis, PLT Virtual Workshop Facilitator
Put a little time into Project Learning Tree, and the learning and friendships will come overflowing many-fold back to you!
That is what it felt like assisting with Colorado Project Learning Tree’s first virtual workshop this past spring. Six great facilitators created a 6-hour live and virtual workshop, including access to the PLT self-guided online course and the 2018 PLT PreK-8 Environmental Activity Guide eBook. Twenty teachers from all ranges of education and all over the state met during three 2-hour sessions.
Homework included “Getting Outside,” exploring, then participants shared one of the five activities themed around awareness of our place: sounds, planet diversity, adopt a tree, a schoolyard safari or digging into soil stories.
In-class sessions included hiking the PLT PreK-8 Guide, exploring the PLT National and Colorado websites, creating and learning how to engage students in Nature Notebooks, and enjoying Acorn to Oak Tree Yoga Brain Breaks.
Facilitators and participants walked through PLT Activity #44 Water Wonders and the water cycle; PLT Activity #45 Web of Life and energy relationships; and PLT Activity #63 Tree Factory and how a tree works, complete with gurgle-slurps, various body moments, giggling and laughter.
Inspiring all of us, Adam Moore, a supervisory forester with the Colorado State Forest Service, shared his experiences with PLT from high school through his career as a forester.
As the workshop came to a close, participants learned about the vast array of resources online and opportunities to join the PLT network, grow in environmental education, engage with other Colorado PLT facilitators in future workshops and receive continuing support from our Colorado PLT coordinators.
Somewhere along the trail, we all learned something new and PLT friendships grew.
A special thank you to our facilitators for this virtual workshop: Rose Banzhaf, Shawna Crocker, Donna Davis, DeLene Hoffner, Michele Mandeville and, of course, our leader ex-TREE-dinaire Danielle Ardrey!
Donna Davis is an Urban and Community Forestry Specialist with the Colorado State Forest Service. She was one of several facilitators of Colorado PLT’s first virtual workshop.
Using PLT activities during online teaching and COVID-19
I teach Early Childhood Education classes at the Boulder JCC. As we moved into online PreK, I have found some PLT activities that have been great to use! We have a Forest School as well and I have used PLT in both the Forest School, regular PreK and some Toddler classes. I used the Shape of Things, suggesting creating shape bracelets to go outside on nature hikes, as well as locating shapes inside.
I expanded this to use with the STEAM afterschool group that I work with at the Gilpin County Youth Camp (PreK-5th grade usually). We are working with coding, so I suggested their younger siblings make the shape bracelets but also created an activity where using koolaid water in spray bottles they could create shapes in the snow.
They also learned pre-orienteering compass skills with the coding sequencing skills, by counting steps in the snow using a compass to determine what directions to take to make squares, triangles, rectangles and any other shapes they wished.
I have used Adopt A Tree and filmed a virtual Backyard Nature Hike, identifying trees. Using A Closer Look we journaled and drew our imaginary tree inside and then went outside to compare to actual trees in our yard or local area. We then used our journaling notes to create Poet Tree about those trees. PLT lends itself to such great adventures that can be taken virtually or in your own backyard and is great to adapt to even some STEAM and coding!
PLT Facilitator, Colorado Master Environmental Educator
Teacher@ Jay & Gloria Phillips Early Childhood Center at the Boulder Jewish Community Center
CSU Extension Gilpin County Youth Development/4H Program Associate