Teaching Through Writing

As part of the newspaper’s special spotlight on Earth Day 2009, Preston Hollow People Newspaper staff writer, Michael Hines, visited Westminster Presbyterian Preschool and Kindergarten to observe and interview children in my classroom. The result was a first page story on Westminster’s Nature and Environment Program, conceived, designed, and executed by myself, and the accounts of students who were experimenting with electricity using see-through, battery-free flashlights.

Viewing the internal magnets spinning on top of tightly wound copper wire, the students observed that their own "work" or physical movement—the actual shaking of the flashlights—had a concrete result: beams of light now were shining from each see-through cylinder. This simple, yet concrete lesson illustrates how electricity is generated inside windmills, where the "work" of the spinning blades similarly spins larger magnets over larger copper coils. Without even realizing it, the students were acquiring a preliminary understanding of physics and basic renewable energy design concepts.

The activities available in my Environmental Classroom include gardening, recycling, conservation, and wildlife protection.  My desire to deliver real-world environmental research to my students is reflected in my online Earthwatch Marine Blog.

Passion for teaching
My passion for teaching began as an environmental writer. As former Director of Youth Editorial for E/The Environmental Magazine (the largest independent non-profit environmental publication in the U.S.), I published EarthBeat, an environmental newsletter for children, and responded to children’s questions through E Magazine’s syndicated column for children, EarthTalk Young Readers. I developed E’s on-line news and information resource for children, Young Environmentalists, which included Mission of Young Environmentalists; Facts-at-a-Glance; and the Energy for Life Art Contest, which inspired children to draw and write about their views concerning wind power. The winning entry and nine honorable mention submissions reflect the creativity and vision of the coming generation.

After graduating from Skidmore College with a degree in environmental geology, I worked as an environmental consultant in Boston, Massachusetts and Yorkshire, England. In 2004, I was admitted to Southern Methodist University (SMU), and in 2006 received my Early Childhood Education certification from SMU’s School of Education and Human Development. Through coursework, observation, and student teaching, I learned to create engaging classrooms where content areas are creatively integrated, and where the needs of all children are met on an individual basis.

My personal views on incorporating environmental education into the early childhood classroom are captured in a 2005 Dallas Morning News article announcing SMU’s new School of Education.


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