Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Inspirational Spring Workshop for Teachers 2019

Spring Workshop 2019

Project Ecologist, John O'Keefe teaches tree ID and how to record stages of Budburst using  "forced"  branches.

 Teachers practice identifying trees and the stages of Budburst using help of experienced Mentor teachers, staff and tree field guides.

Buds, Leaves and Global Warming Group explored the stages of
 Budburst outdoors as well. 
 Looking more closely at buds, above and below.  Red Maples were one of the only
 species they found that had begun flowering this year.

Harvard Forest Senior Ecologist and Site Manager, Audrey Barker-Plotkin, led both the
Our Changing Forest group and the Woolly Bully group on a field walk to Hemlock
Hollow and the Hemlock Eddy Flux Tower.

Teachers saw both high tech and low
 tech ways that professional Ecologists
 study the forest. The laundry basket
 above was used to catch leaf litter
 which was later analyzed in the lab.
 Audrey taught teachers about what scientists at Harvard Forest have learned about changes in the forest up to 10,000 years ago using Paleo-Ecology to look at pollen grains in wetlands like the vernal pool pictured above.

Teacher comments about Project Breakout Sessions and Field Walks:

  • John was so informative and the veteran teachers had some great suggestions
  • I can teach about the Hemlock’s role in carbon storage.
  • Great to be able to see specimens and ask questions about the development of the buds
  • Helpful to see woolly bully to help with my identification. Helpful to walk with other teachers and discuss how they are using these projects to teach
  • Awesome part of the day! There is nothing better than getting out and seeing and hearing things directly--thank you!
  • As a newcomer, I felt like I was able to get some understanding of how to lead students in counting buds, and which buds. I also have the context of the work to share with students.
  • Seeing all the nuances on real trees allowed for lots of questions & clarification
  • It is wonderful to hear John talk about his project and how things have changed over the last year.
  • I really liked listening to the other teachers share their stories
  • I learn so much every time I listen to John present - I filled up 2 pages with notes and ideas to bring with me. It's always enlightening to look at branches that are being forced, challenging my ability to identify and notice details
  • John gives a renewed energy for the spring with his experience and expertise
  • The walk with Audrey was fabulous. It was so good to have a chance to listen to Audrey share her knowledge and have a chance to ask questions. 

Lightning Round Slides  

 What Schoolyard Ecology looks like 
1 Slide in 1 Minute per project at each site

Teacher Recognition


5 Year Award:  Melanie McCracken
 10 Year Awards:  

JoAnn Mossman, Katherine Bennett, Louise Levy, Nora Murphy, Debra Kimball

Teacher Presentations


Teachers,Mary Reed and Joe Scanio, presented the ways in which 
they integrate project themes into classroom curriculum.

Teacher Comments on Presentations:  

  • I loved hearing what other teachers are doing--I can't wait to re work some curriculum for next year.
  • Mary's scaffolding set off "bing!" moments for ways I can make the study come alive for my students.
  • I enjoyed learning more about graphing possibilities with the data. Maybe we could make a location map for our trees with pop outs for each. Mary’s presentation was very helpful in how you can organize and implement the Buds program with Elementary students.
  • The GIS presentation makes me think about getting the coding teacher to help out with the data we collect and have students to create maps related to this project
  • Graphing literacy is becoming more and more important on the MCAS, good to have this information
  • great to hear about how Mr. Scanio is working with data visualization
  • Joe's work was something I might be able to scale down for middle school and Mary's was something I might try to scale up.
  • Mary did an amazing presentation! I really appreciate seeing how this project's data is being used to expand understanding at the elementary level. I loved the chance to see all the ways to use this project in student's learning.a of putting together a book for the students to see their work over the course of a school year.

 New this Year:  Student Work/ Poster Session 

Teacher Emilie Cushing  Shared an activity that students completed related to  GIS Land
Cover Change Maps. These maps were provided by Harvard Forest as a tool for connecting
the Our Changing Forest project to larger trends in landscape change over time.

 Teacher, JoAnn Mossman from Overlook Middle School in Ashburnham, shared student created graphs of Buds, Leaves and Global Warming data.  Most students created hand graphs they decorated in ways that made the graphs visually appealing.  One student created a computer generated graph showing all trees over 8 years of the study. The student used a graphing tool from the HF online database to create that graph.

St. Mary's Parish School Teacher, Mary Reed, above left and below, shared samples of tree booklets created by her 4th grade students.  Mary was able to show how she approached a series of lessons that contributed to that project in a PowerPoint presentation followed by the informal student work session.  

Belchertown, H.S. Teacher, Louise Levy shared binders that serve as organizational tools for students to store and keep track of all of their data sheets and information about each of the study trees at their school field site.  Next year's students will add their data sheets to the same binder in order to keep track of the tree over time, in one place.

Teacher Comments on Student Work/Poster Session:

  • It is great to see what other teachers are doing with their students to bring ecology into the classroom.
  • chance to see all the ways to use this project in student's learning.
  • I loved this! This also gave a time for more information conversation that was very helpful.
  • Seeing samples of work and getting ideas to improve direction-giving and organization
  • I love the book project! Student samples showed a pride and ownership of work

Survey Says....

  • The walk and having the chance to meet and talk with the staff and the teachers always extends my knowledge and renews my passion.
  • The entire day was fantastic. I loved getting ideas from other teachers. I am so impressed with the good work everyone is doing and I got lots of good ideas.
  • I liked the lightning round to see all the varied work people are doing .
  • Having the chance to meet and hear from other teachers who are inspired to take on such interesting work with students is helpful.
  • I learned more about the woolly bully and OCF and what other teachers are doing. I love the opportunity to network with other teachers and learn what they are doing across the state.
  • Every time I attend a workshop I feel a little more educated and comfortable with the content and ability to relay information to my students.
  • Re-invigorating, re-dedicating myself to helping my students make meaning of the work. 
  • It was wonderful to have people say that my work is valuable.
  •  I look forward to sharing paleo-ecology techniques and findings with my students.

  • It was great to hear about the research projects and new learnings at Harvard Forest. I am interested in potentially adding another HF LTER study to my curriculum next year. I am deciding between buds or our changing forests.
  • Learning about ancient pollen! This workshop always helps me remember why I am doing this work--to get kids out and learn to love what is around them.

Action!  What is actually being done at school/site level with students this year? 

Links to Explore More:

Paleo-Ecology Study-14000-years-change

John O'Keefe.2019 Spring Phenology Presentation.pdf   including updated graphs of phenology data over time.

Schoolyard Lightning Round Slides-4-9-19.pdf to get a view of what Schoolyard Ecology looks like at many sites.

Using TAbleau and Arc GIS to represent OurChangingForests Data. Spring2019Presentation.pdf by Choate Rosemary Hall Teacher, Joe Scanio.

McCracken. All Scientists Meeting Land Use Change Poster.pdf

Coming Soon:

Outline for Tree  Book Presentation .Mary Reed, St. Mary's Parish School

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Budburst Preview

Get a Jump start on Budburst by Bringing it INSIDE 

Project Ecologist John O'Keefe headed out to collect branches on 3-26-19
  Harvard Forest


Here is what the buds John collected on 3-26-19 were looking like on 4-1-19 after being inside by a south facing window a few days.  Notice that we included some Forsythia for fun and beauty along with native species that are included in John's  Phenology study.  

Hanover High School Teacher, Maryann Postans collected branches on 3-26-19 
Hanover, New Hampshire

Hanover HS Field Site, N.H.

 Side Buds starting to pop

Buds on lab bench waiting to open

St. Mary's School Teacher,  Mary Reed gathered these branches on 3-28-19
Westfield, MA. 

Getting Students to Take a Closer Look

I designed this science log to get students to slow down and really look closely at the buds as well as the bark.  I find this can be a good opportunity to also practice tree ID skills using shape of buds and the positioning of buds as well as color of the bark. Mostly this gives them an opportunity to track the expansion of buds and eventual opening into either leaves or flowers.  This prepares students to accurately complete Spring Phenology field sheets to track the beginning of the growing season.

See the lesson plan from the GLOBE program which is another National Science Foundation organization  supporting K-12 ecological study.  Link to the lesson at: 

GLOBE Budburst Preview Lesson Plan

Monday, March 25, 2019

What to Expect for Spring Workshop, April 9, 2019?

Spring Workshop For Teachers
Harvard Forest
April 9,  2019

New This Year:  

  • Student Work/"Poster Session". All Workshop participants are encouraged to bring samples of student work to share in a designated space at HF where we all can view samples from multiple schoolyard sites and interact with Educators about how students at their locations are engaging in project related activities/educational content. 

    Back By Popular Demand:

    • Teacher Awards for 5 and 10 year Project Leadership. Teachers will be awarded for long term dedicated participation in HF Schoolyard Ecology.

    • Lightning Round.  Educators from each site will share 1 slide in 1 minute as part of this fast paced look at what is happening regionally in the frame of HF Schoolyard Ecology. 

    • Ecologist-led Breakout Sessions. Get the dirt on seasonal and current changes related to your project Inside and Outside.

    • Teacher presentations Two teachers will go deeper into how they are integrating project themes into work with students at their sites and classrooms.

    What, where and When; Workshop Agenda:  

    Are You Registered?

    Contact Pamela at psnow@fas.harvard.edu with your name, project group and school in order to register to join us on April 9th at Harvard Forest.

    Monday, January 28, 2019

    All Things Data...Chock Full of updates and resources to help teachers approach Data Literacy through Schoolyard Ecology

    Silver Linings and Workarounds; Data Workshop 2019

    With Technology Glitches and all...Teachers Progressed in "Looking at Data" at the Harvard Forest Schoolyard Ecology Workshop for Teachers this Month

         Ecologist, Betsy Colburn opened the workshop with an introduction to  Looking at Data. 

    Harvard Forest Mentor, Ann Lewis,
    made some followup points related
    to Looking at Data presentation.

    Our Changing Forests Teacher, Joe Scanio gave a sneak preview into ways he represents project data spatially. 


    Buds, Leaves and Global Warming Teacher, JoAnn Mossman shared her process of engaging students in producing and interpreting hand graphs of Leaf fall and Length of the Growing Season over time.

    Harvard Forest Data Manager, Emery Boose provided a detailed introduction to managing and entering Schoolyard Ecology data for 1st year teachers. 


    Harvard Forest Mentors and Schoolyard Teachers all had to think outside the box when the Harvard Forest Website guest access was unexpectedly cut off.  Mentors worked individually with teachers as they began to find ways of collaborating and finding "work-arounds" to technology issues. 

    HF Ecologist, Betsy Colburn led a second presentation for experienced Schoolyard teachers who wanted to progress in their ability to lead students in interpreting and/or creating visual representations of their project data.

     Experienced teachers worked with HF Mentors in approaching ways of representing, interpreting and teaching students what the data is saying.



    Teachers Shared Their Work with Each Other 

     Our Changing Forests Teacher, Melanie McCracken, shared a series of Graphing lessons she worked on during the workshop.  After several years leading 2 Schoolyard Projects at Groton-Dunstable High School, she is still finding better ways of approaching getting her students to work with data in ways that fit in the time constraints of a busy curriculum.

    Left:  Trinity Catholic School teacher, Lori Primavera, showed a
    series of  graphs that she created to help her 4th and 5th grade
    students better see what the data is showing in their fifth year
    studying the timing of leaf fall at their school.

    Upper Right:  Choate-Rosemary Hall  Teacher,  Joe Scanio, showed a new way of representing                                  Our Changing Forests project  data spatially using GIS technology.  
    Lower Right:  Mass Audubon Educator, Martha Slone, shared how she is helping  students in an                               after-school at Shaughnessy Elementary School in Lowell see what their Buds, Leaves                             and Global Warming project  data is showing.   

    In Teachers' Words:  

    Technology issues: 

    • Just difficult getting a late start with the issue of getting on the website to retrieve data
    • Data uploaded late in day...I practiced with graphing but I want to go back and graph the three local sites.
    • Though I only made it half way, I am very satisfied. The technology challenge provided opportunity to exchange ideas with Ann Lewis as she worked to send my data to me. I also connected with Fiona about data nuggets am eager to explore that library and incorporate more real data into my high school ecology lessons. I also exchanged valuable strategies with JoAnn Mossman. (Not to mention, Dr. O'Keefe and Melanie McCracken) So, all in all, I feel as if the "detour" facilitated valuable collaboration all on the topic of data. I am confident that I can complete my stated goal back at school, therefore I can honestly say I surpassed my goal!
    • I was hoping to input the data but only got it organized. The delay in being able to access the internet delayed the start to us being able to enter data.
    • Technology was an issue.

    Progress in Working with Data: 

    • I was able to focus and concentrate just on this task working with project data), and I had a break through.
    • I mostly received clarity about the data I gathered and input and was able to identify a problem I may not have otherwise found.
    • I was able to get a better understanding of how to work with the data from my sites. I also came up with a series of lesson ideas that I will hopefully have time to use this year.
    • I have a much better understanding of how to present data and the importance of first thinking about what it is you want to show what is the story what is the question
    • More confident because I took time to prepare something I will use. Also seeing and hearing similar as well as different ideas from the other teachers and scientists!


    • Dr. Colburn explains things so crystal clear. Every time I hear her presentation, I learn how important it is to represent the data visually.
    • Good conversation and information. It would be helpful to also have the graphs she (Dr. Colburn) presented with and without the labels so we could discuss this kind of graphical analysis with our own students as well.
    • The information was very useful. Dr. Boose also did a nice job giving us additional information while we waited for people to problem solve the technology.
    • It was helpful to see different types of graphs, how to interpret those graphs and data as it's been a while for me. 

      Individual Work Time:

    • I rarely get the chance to give this data my full undivided attention. I often find myself getting interrupted at school or multitasking and trying to beat deadlines . This is a rare chance to slow down and honor the work the students did.
    • More comfortable with navigating site and using tools
    • With the WiFi glitch I did not have time to input data. However all my time was used productively and I could have used some more time to get to speak with all the teachers I hoped to!
    • I graphed on paper particularly due to the tech difficulties. I am interested in exploring online graphing options with support such as this workshop.

    Harvard Forest Mentors:

    • I enjoy working side by side the Harvard staff and being fully support. It recharges me.
    • The Harvard Forest staff and mentors did a great job of finding a work around for the tech issues. They were tireless in their problem solving.
    • Supportive and helpful!!
    • Amazing in fact!
    • All staff and mentors were positive and extremely responsive!

    Teacher Mentors:

    • It was wonderful to have all the support from HF staff and from the teachers like Joann who presented but also were available to help. I would love to know more about GIS that Joe presented briefly.
    • I loved having teachers like Joann and Joe sharing their expertise. I learn so much and am so inspired by all the teachers. 


    • The workshop was a great motivator and boost!
    • Learned so much, became more confident in using graphs, the day flew by!
    • Even with the technology issues the workshop was hugely valuable. I came with several questions and all were answered. I had a chance to speak with many teachers and staff members, networking is so important.
    • Thank you for offering many opportunities for supporting teachers. The multiple workshops offered at various levels gives many opportunities for everyone to learn more, reflect on teaching activities and make contacts with colleagues
    • Today seemed perfect (except for internet connection)- I really appreciated the "one-minute" teacher presentations as well as the overview by Betsy. Good availability of mentors! large block of time to work on our next graphing steps in the company of inspiring fellow teachers!


    • Maybe some time to look at student work?

    Links to Related Resources: 

    Harvard Forest Staff Presentations and Data Workshop Resources:  
    Teacher Joe Scanio Spatial Analysis Resources:
    Teacher Created Graphs of Schoolyard Data: 

    Stay Tuned for:

    • DATE for Spring Workshop TBA-Teachers and Staff are currently submitting availability on Doodle Poll.