Review by Sam Lyman (and Kris Eacker)
WOW!: The Wonders Of Wetlands: An Educator’s Guide By Environmental Concern Inc. and The Watercourse, Bozeman, MT Published by Environmental Concern Inc., St. Michaels, MD, 2003, 348 p. ISBN: 1-883226-07-4
POW!: The Planning of Wetlands: An Educator’s Guide By Karen Ripple & Edgar Garbisch Published by Environmental Concern Inc., St. Michaels, MD, 2000, 346 p. ISBN: 1-883226-05-8
I visited recently with 5th/6th grade teacher Kris Eacker who teaches at Colton Elementary School in Colton, WA. Kris recently attended local WOW! and POW! workshops that focused on informing teachers about the possibilities of teaching science in connection with the study of wetlands. Kris and was excited to talk to me about her studentís work with a small, recently created, vernal pond located across the street from the school. In the first few weeks of the 2004-2005 school year, Kris taught from four of the 43 lesson plans featured in the WOW! curriculum. Using the Whose Clues lesson, Kris’s students brainstormed a list of 25 possible animal species that could possibly be found in the vicinity of their 2 acre wetland site. In the classroom, students considered the types of clues that might be used to verify the presence of different animal species. Kris’s students then proceeded across the street to the pond to stake out evidence such as rabbit droppings and an assortment of tracks. From this information students generated a preliminary inventory of animal species in the Colton School Pond. Using the WOW! curriculum, Kris developed a 2-year plan that includes 24 lessons that challenge students, through inquiry-based learning, to problem solve around three general themes: wetland soils, plants, and water. Kris has found the WOW! lessons to be well-written and easily adaptable to the needs of her students. In considering possible improvements, Kris had two recommendations: 1) the inclusion of imbedded vocabulary with definitions in the lessons, rather than in the end-of-book glossary that is not formally part of the student materials, and 2) the inclusion of journal writing prompts to assist students with summarizing their learning through reflective writing. In contrast to the WOW! curriculum that is intended for teachers who work in already-established wetlands, the POW! text is a comprehensive resource for the teacher or administrator considering the construction of new wetlands. Using hands-on lessons, teachers are shown how to involve their students in every step of the planning of wetlands; from permits to wetland design to wetland monitoring and stewardship. The WOW! and POW! curricula are both supported by hands-on workshops that are conducted by professional environmental educators who know the needs and concerns of todayís teachers. Environmental Concern lists upcoming workshops on their website . As a biology teacher that has worked in student-led wetland restoration, I heartily recommend attending a WOW! or POW! workshop and the use of the many wetland curriculum materials available through Environmental Concern.