Posts Tagged ‘education’

How has drawing been used as a learning tool in the classroom?

After reviewing 100 years of literature about children and drawing, Boston College faculty Walt Haney, Michael Russell and Damian Bebell discuss their findings in Drawing on Education: Using Drawings to Document Schooling and Support Change.

Haney et al. (2004) observed the following patterns about scholarly work addressing drawing in the classroom:

  1. Most of the literature addresses the psychological analysis of children’s drawings with respect to cognitive development or emotional issues.
  2. Most of the literature is about young children instead of older children.
  3. Drawing in large research projects is a recent development.
  4. Drawings are seldom used in research projects concerning education.

Haney et al. (2004) include their own research in their review and propose that student drawings can also be used to investigate classroom environments and school life. They found that asking students to draw their teacher at work reveals a lot about what goes on inside the classroom.

The authors began their research in 1994 and, after pilot-testing several prompts, included the following prompt in their initial study:

    Think about the teachers and the kinds of things you do in your classrooms. Draw a picture of one of your teachers working in his or her classroom.

From this initial study, Haney et al. (2004) went on to develop prompts encouraging students to document educational phenomena. Students documented phenomena such as what they do when they read and what they do when they learn math. Examples of other prompts used in their research and a lengthy explanation of how Haney et al. (2004) evaluated student drawings can be found in their paper.

How can the work of Haney, Russell and Bebell be applied to classroom research addressing plant-based education?

Take a quiet afternoon to read and digest Haney et al. (2004) and come back here to share your thoughts. This article is available online from
Harvard Educational Review for $9.95.

You can also look for this article at your local college library.

Literature Cited

Haney, Walt and Michael Russell, Damian Bebell. 2004. Drawing on education: Using drawings to document schooling and support change. Harvard Educational Review. 74(3): 241-272.

Are you interested in how drawing can be used in a biology classroom?
Join the conversation with this month’s featured guest, Jennifer Landin.

Read Full Post »

Rent textbooks from ArtPlantae Books

Rent textbooks from ArtPlantae Books

Think textbooks are too expensive? So do I.

So, new for this year, students can rent their textbooks through ArtPlantae’s new, state-of-the-art online textbook rental store found at http://artplantaebooks.bookrenterstore.com powered by BookRenter. Renting textbooks typically saves students an average of 75% off the price of the book, which can mean thousands of dollars over a college career, and renting from ArtPlantae Books helps to support ArtPlantae.

The store has access to more than 5,000,000 high-quality U.S. edition titles. It’s easy to use – once you search for and select your books, you simply choose a shipping option and enter your payment information, and your books will arrive at your door within a few days. Standard shipping is free both ways, and almost any book is available in 2 days using the Express Plus shipping option.

You can rent textbooks for any of 5 different time periods, and can always extend rentals or buy books outright at any time, and rental fees apply towards the purchase price of the book. This means you never pay more to rent than the purchase price of a book. You can also write or highlight in your rentals just as with purchased books (just don’t turn it into a work of art), and, like Netflix, returns are always easy and free.

ArtPlantae’s new bookstore powered by BookRenter also offers a 5-Star Satisfaction Guarantee. You can return books for any reason within 21 days, no questions asked. Every order is available for express shipping, and return shipping is always free. You are guaranteed that you will be happy with the quality of your books (or you’ll be shipped another at no cost). You can extend a rental at any time – at the same cheap daily rate. And, keeping a book will never cost more than the purchase price.

Over 500 college bookstores at schools like the University of Texas-Austin, University of Kansas, Arizona State University have also chosen BookRenter to power their textbook rental stores. Did I mention you can search for books by school and course?

To start saving on textbook rentals while also supporting ArtPlantae’s efforts to encourage an interest in plants, visit http://artplantaebooks.bookrenterstore.com.

Please share this exciting news with friends, students and colleagues. Thank you!

About BookRenter

BookRenter launched in 2008 and is dedicated to making education more affordable by allowing students to rent textbooks for up to 75% off the retail price. BookRenter’s innovative pricing and operating systems provide students with the best price, highest quality books, and most flexible rental experience available today. Currently carrying over 5 million titles and serving thousands of students on over 5,000 U.S. campuses, BookRenter is one of the fastest growing startups in Silicon Valley, growing at over 400% each year. BookRenter, with offices in San Mateo, California, is a private company that is funded by prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firms.

About ArtPlantae Books

ArtPlantae Books complements the educational resource ArtPlantae.com. It serves a community of artists, naturalists and educators pursuing interests in plant-based education, botanical art, environmental education and STEM / STEAM education. ArtPlantae Books is a member of the American Booksellers Association.

Read Full Post »

Click to view and download flier.

Click to view and download flier.

You are invited to an Earth Day celebration hosted by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County!

This free community event promotes environmental awareness and sustainable living. Tour a water reclamation plant and/or landfill, enjoy music and dance performances, create eco-friendly arts and crafts, and visit over 50 exhibitors while learning about environmental issues.

The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (LACSD) will also be accepting donations of old shoes and eyeglasses on this day and will donate these items to those in need. If you have shoes you do not use or a drawer full of old glasses, please bring them and contribute to this worthy cause.

The LACSD Earth Day event will be held at their main office in Whittier, CA. Here are the details:

    What: Earth Day Celebration
    Where: Sanitation Districts Main Office, 1955 Workman Mill Road, Whittier, CA 90601 (map)
    When: Saturday, April 13, 2013
    Time: 10 AM – 2 PM
    Cost: FREE


Soles4Souls: A Shoe Charity Recycling Shoes for Those in Need

Read Full Post »

Image courtesy of Kathleen Garness. All rights reserved

Image courtesy of Kathleen Garness. All rights reserved

This week we have the good fortune to learn from Kathleen Garness, a scientific illustrator in Illinois whose botanical illustrations are being used to encourage an interest in native plants in the Chicago area. Kathleen has graciously stopped by to discuss her current projects.

    : How did you become involved in the Chicago plant families project?

    Kathleen: I have become passionate about the need for natural areas restoration since joining the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plants of Concern rare plant monitoring program in 2001. Plants of Concern (POC) uses a nationally-acclaimed systematic scientific protocol that records data about the species, its associates, threats to the population and land management history. Right now I am responsible for monitoring about 40 populations of 26 rare species at ten different sites in four counties in our region, reporting our findings to the Chicago Botanic Garden and the landowners.

    Why? Our rare, and even common, native species are being crowded out by non-native shrubs such as European buckthorn and herbaceous plants such as garlic mustard and teasel. Because of this, we are losing our valuable pollinators, and if we allow this trend to continue it will have disastrous economic and nutritional impacts on our well being, not to mention the tragic loss of so much of our botanical natural heritage.

    Several years ago I had been asked to consider “adopting” one of my monitoring sites, Grainger Woods, since it did not have a steward, and they hoped that restoration efforts would be able to keep it nearly pristine. Two years ago we achieved the highest level of natural areas protection afforded by the state. Now, over half of the site is an Illinois dedicated nature preserve. Grainger Woods has over 300 species of plants and is an important bird study area for Lake County IL, because the rare red-headed woodpecker has been known to nest there. One Saturday morning every month, in addition to our POC work (which may involve one or more extensive surveys per season per species and site) we clear the area of invasive non-native trees, shrubs or herbaceous plants.

    While the Chicago region is arguably the nation’s leader in natural areas restoration, our biennial Wild Things conference draws well over a thousand attendees from the region. Many volunteers lack a depth of botanical knowledge that, a hundred years ago, used to be an essential part of every high school curriculum. But now, this knowledge is in danger of being lost entirely. And many site managers and stewards don’t have the time to train their volunteers about the finer points of plant taxonomy, even if they felt it would be valuable. So one of the region’s leaders, Barbara Birmingham, a retired science teacher, has been trying to address that deficit by offering monthly field botany classes at her site every year for the past three years. She asked me to assist her in developing new materials, and since each month she focused on a different common plant family, and would be using these materials in coming years, I felt this was a worthwhile use of my skills and time.

    As the project evolved, we realized this could be useful region-wide, so I enlisted the help of many local scientists and stewards, emailing them the pages for their comments, according to their area of specialty. Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plant Conservation Manager of Regional Floristics, Susanne Masi, who co-authored The Sunflower Family in the Upper Midwest, edited the Asteraceae pages; Stephen Packard, director of Audubon Chicago Region and Kenneth Robertson from the Illinois Natural History Survey, contributed to the Rosaceae; and many others contributed to the rest of the series. John Balaban, one of the original Cook County North Branch stewards, and Rebecca Collings provided dedicated support from the Field Museum of Natural History here in Chicago. We are more than halfway through the project, having completed fourteen of the twenty-six most common plant families here. (Rebecca and I first become acquainted when I was asked by their botanist Bil Alverson to assist with Keys to Nature Orchids.

    The Field Museum provided the template, which was consistent with the other Rapid Color Guides they had already developed. We worked together as a team to come up with the design and content for each page, which I wrote and illustrated. We chose species that restoration volunteers might easily come across, as well as a few that are invasive or of special concern, to watch out for and report. Since we have so much biodiversity in our region, it was hard to choose, and for that I was very grateful for the team approach. Some of the families, such as the gentians and arums, were able to be completed in one page — the others were just an overview. We also wanted to suggest some of the important ecological relationships plants have to animals and used Milkweed Metropolis as that one example.

    : What are the goals of this project? How do the project sponsors – The Field Museum – plan to use this information?

    Kathleen: We will be promoting the pages next February during the
    Wild Things Conference at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Field Museum will be giving their ecology students the pages as handouts this next field season, and providing the link to the pages so that folks can also access them via mobile technology such as smartphones or digital tablets. Stewards will be able to use them as handouts in their field botany walks and restoration instructions, too.

    And I feel a clarification is in order here – by no means are they intended to replace field guides or taxonomic keys. Rather, they are a quick visual way for folks new to natural areas exploration or restoration to begin to familiarize themselves with botany basics, not feel so intimidated by the diversity our area offers, and maybe eventually purchase a field guide such as Peterson’s or Newcomb’s. So they are intended to complement the use of field guides, providing a quick visual identification to family; from there an unknown plant can hopefully be keyed to species using a field guide or an online resource such as the USDA PLANTS Database or Flora of North America. The page set also includes a short glossary.

    : Do you envision other uses for this guide?

    Kathleen: We have shown them to regional scouting program leaders and

    Image courtesy of Kathleen Garness. All rights reserved

    Image courtesy of Kathleen Garness. All rights reserved

    high school science teachers, and some teachers are providing them to their classes for extra credit work. We would be thrilled to offer them to Mighty Acorns, a junior naturalist program sponsored by the Cook County Forest Preserve. Recently, the American Society of Botanical Artists graciously awarded me the Anne Ophelia Dowden grant for 2013, with which I will be able to offer art classes and distribute sets of materials, including these plant family pages, to five regional community centers, as outreach to underserved populations. These pages have sort of taken on a life of their own, now!

    : You have mentioned in the past that there needs to be a grassroots effort to help people “make the connection between plants and well-being.” From what you’ve observed through your work with the public, where would be a good place to start?

    Kathleen: Well, we’re hoping these materials will begin to assist with this! For the last twenty years or so, there has been a groundswell of interest in natural areas restoration, organic gardening, urban horticulture, even beekeeping, not just regionally or nationally, but worldwide. Well before this, the Midwest was blessed with being the epicenter of the ecology movement, through the pioneering work of famous naturalist Robert Kennicott, who worked for the Smithsonian Institution and was a founder of the Chicago Academy of Sciences; Stephen Forbes, who was the first head of the Illinois Natural History Survey; Henry Chandler Cowles, University of Chicago, today considered the father of ‘dynamic ecology’; Aldo Leopold; and the tireless May Theilgaard Watts, who was one of Morton Arboretum’s most famous naturalists. These intrepid naturalists got out into the field every day, marveled at the wonders of nature, made careful observations, and inspired several generations that followed. So this generation, I feel, is standing on the shoulders of giants, and we need to keep the momentum going – we need to get folks outside, to have them experience the beauty of nature firsthand on a regular basis, but also provide them the tools to really SEE and appreciate what they are looking at. That is the goal of my current botanical illustration work and I see no proper end to it. I hope artists and naturalists in other regions see the value in this and do it for their communities too.

    : You are working on another project in which economic botany and ornamental horticulture are the focus. What are the educational objectives of this project?

    Kathleen: The Oak Park Conservatory, where I am Artist-in-Residence until November 2013, has also engaged me to make similar materials about the plants in their tropical greenhouses. So far I have completed two sets – cacao and poinsettias – of the eight sets commissioned, and am now starting on the cacti and succulents. These are not family pages per se because each set’s scope is broader than just one family. I also interact with the Conservatory visitors, show them how a botanical artist works, chat about the various collections if they’re interested, and will hopefully complete my tenure there with an exhibit of new watercolors!

    : You are doing wonderful work, Kathleen. Thank you for spending time with us this week.

More About the Field Guide

The pages of Common Plant Families of the Chicago Region are standard 8.5″ x 11″ pages and fit easily into a 3-ring binder. Since they are a standard size, the pages are also easy to laminate. Users of this guide may be interested in creating their own color-coding system while learning the features of each plant family (similar to what is used in Botany Illustrated).

Featured in this guide are the following plant families:

  • Apiaceae (Parsley Family)
  • Araceae (Arum Family)
  • Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family)
  • Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)
  • Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)
  • Fabaceae (Legume Family)
  • Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)
  • Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
  • Liliaceae (Lily Family)
  • Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family)
  • Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)
  • Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
  • Rosaceae (Rose Family)
  • Scrophulariaceae (Snapdragon Family)

A glossary of botanical terms is also included with the guide.

The guide Common Plant Families of the Chicago Region is available online for free.

About Kathleen Garness

The botanical/scientific illustration certificate program at Morton Arboretum was the turning point for me. While I had painted watercolors of tropical orchids for many years previous, the classes at Morton refined my pen and ink skills and fueled an interest in learning about and documenting local native species.

I really enjoy my work as a volunteer natural areas steward for Grainger Woods. My two passions – preserving habitat and documenting native species – seem to feed off each other. In 2008 my colleague Pat Hayes and I were surprised with a Chicago Wilderness Grassroots Conservation Leadership Award for our work in developing educational materials for youth as part of the national Leave No Child Inside initiative.

What feels like an eon ago, I served as board member and president of the historic Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, and am still currently active in several local and national arts organizations. One of my most exciting opportunities, though, was the acceptance of one of my paintings into the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew Gardens, London, as part of Losing Paradise? Endangered Plants Here and Around the World and in the 2011 edition of Smithsonian in Your Classroom.

I am the mother of one son, Ian Halliday, who encouraged me in this work by buying me a Wacom tablet one year for Christmas when he saw me laboring over my other avocation, the illustrations for the Little Gospels, published by Liturgy Training Publications for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd curriculum. I still have to figure out how the Master’s in Religious Education and 20+ years teaching Sunday school figures into the artist side of me, but it all seems to fit somehow!

Additional Information About Plants of the Chicago Region

Read Full Post »

When ArtPlantae participates in educational events, garden shows and other venues, I bring a traveling Guest Sketchbook with me and a sign that reads, “Please doodle in the Guest Sketchbook. Chicken scratch preferred. Words not necessary. Select any page. Thank you.”

All day long I invite people to doodle. Adults are the first to shake their heads no and to walk away. The usual response is “No. I can’t draw and I don’t doodle.” One man said, “Oh no. Not without a straightedge!”

The response I receive from children is very different. They are all over the sketchbook. Some return to draw again. Others lose track of time and space and draw for a long time. While most children respond in a positive way to my invitation, there have been some who have politely declined.

At an outdoor event where everyone is out enjoying a sunny day, having my invitation turned down is no big deal.

But what if you were using drawing as a learning tool for specific reasons and had a room full of students who groaned at the thought of having to draw for an assignment? What do you do then?

In Drawing Out the Artist in Science Students, science teacher Al Camacho, mechanical engineering professor Gary Benenson and Patricia Rosas-Colin, a graduate student in mathematics education have an answer to this dilemma. Their answer is quite simply, teach these students how to draw.

Not in an assertive “Draw or else!” sort of way, of course. But in a way that encourages them to become visual thinkers.

In their paper, the authors present five exercises designed to make students thoughtful and inquiring observers. Here I provide only a one-line description of each exercise. For all the juicy details, please see their paper.

In Camacho et al. (2012), you’ll find exercises about:

  • Sci-a-grams: What are they and how they can be used to demonstrate the value of simple sketches.
  • Basic Shapes – How to see shapes in everyday objects
  • Creating with Basic Shapes – How to create representational images
  • Information Through Labels – An exercise in communicating information
  • Diagram Design – An exercise in explaining how things work

You will also find in this paper a scoring rubric teachers can use to evaluate student drawings and assess student understanding.

The exercises presented in this paper do more than help students use drawing as a learning tool. They train students how to communicate information visually and equip students with a new way of thinking and expressing ideas (Camacho et al., 2012).

To obtain a copy of Camacho et al. (2012), you can buy this article online from the National Science Teachers Association (99¢).

Literature Cited

Camacho, Al and Gary Benenson, Carmen Patricia Rosas-Colin. 2012. Drawing out the artist in science students. Science and Children. 50(3): 68-73.

Read Full Post »

The 3rd Annual Lemon Lily Festival will be held in the mountain community of Idyllwild, CA this weekend. The festival brings attention to the small populations of the rare and uncommon Lemon Lily growing in moist areas of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains in southern California.

Education and restoration are the focus of the festival this year. Local botanists will lead nature walks on the hour from 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22. There will be garden club tours, events occurring throughout the town of Idyllwild, and educational activities at the Idyllwild Nature Center.

ArtPlantae will be at the Idyllwild Nature Center this weekend from
9 AM – 4 PM on Saturday and Sunday.

Spend a lovely summer weekend in the mountains.

Join us at the Lemon Lily Festival!

Visit the Lemon Lily Festival

Read Full Post »

By Carol Gracie

From the time I was a child, plants have always interested me, first for their beautiful flowers, but then because I would always notice something interesting happening on or near the flowers: insects visiting them (sometimes eating them!), other insects mating on them (rather risqué for a 10-year-old), colors or shapes changing; I always wanted to know why.

As an adult, I began teaching children and other adults about plants, both informally on nature walks and then on a professional basis at The New York Botanical Garden. Many people already appreciated the beauty of plants, but few gave them more than an admiring glance and failed to get to know the stories behind their pretty faces. It was my job to introduce them to the rich lives of plants and give them a sense of their role in the environment. Like animals, each plant interacts with its environment in some way. Since plants are stationary they have had to evolve creative strategies to accomplish tasks like reproduction, dissemination of their seeds, and protection from predators that are more easily carried out by mobile animals. Plants are particularly important because they are the very basis of life for most other organisms on earth; they can manufacture their own food, and without them, life as we know it would not exist.

Most of the adults that I taught were in class because they already cared about plants and wanted to learn more about them. However, capturing the interest of kids at the Garden on a school field trip was often more of a challenge. What to do? I found that a “hands-on” approach was best. Let them touch — sometimes even pull apart — what they were studying. Ask them questions about it. Get them to look and discover. When outdoors, I gave them magnifying lenses and let them observe what the insects were doing on/in the flower. The latter idea is easier said than done. The only insect that some city kids knew was the cockroach— in their eyes a creature put on this Earth to be stepped on – and many kids (and some adults) have such a fear of bees that they instinctively flail about when approached by one. Showing them that I wasn’t afraid of 6-legged creatures, and that the insects usually paid no attention to me if I remained still, would often give them the courage to become observers. And what keen observers young plant detectives can be! Once “into it,” they spot things that most adults miss — an insect camouflaged on a tree trunk, one hiding beneath a leaf, ants cooperating to carry something too heavy for one to bring back to the nest alone, etc. Being in the field with an interested child can open one’s eyes. However, I must admit that if a snake suddenly slithered across the trail, an immediate halt to all botanical education ceased. Things that move – fly, crawl, run, and slither — are just inherently more interesting to children. Since snakes have little direct connection to plants, I would share their excitement about the snake and once it had disappeared from view, get them to think about what snakes ate — often frogs or small mammals — and then to consider what those animals ate until we got back to plants, thus following the food chain back to the miraculous plants that didn’t need to “eat” anything else but could manufacture their own food. Of course, someone would always ask about “meat eating” plants, and we were off on another discussion. Several species of carnivorous plants are on display in the greenhouses of The New York Botanical Garden, so I could show them how each traps its prey and explain that the green plants still made their own food and only absorbed certain nutrients, which were lacking in the poor soils where they grew.

Although I no longer teach in a classroom setting, I still lead occasional wildflower walks and lecture about wildflowers. I find that the same techniques are effective with adults. I’ve led or co-led over 30 ecotours with a botanical focus, mostly to places in South America, but also to more local destinations. The location is not important. It’s getting people to take the time to really look at things. Once they learn to “stop and smell the roses,” they become interested observers and can enjoy the excitement of discovering something new, even if that something is long known, and only new to them.

We have had several artists, particularly natural history artists, travel with us over the years. Because they always seemed frustrated that they didn’t have time to do proper sketches before we moved on, we decided to offer some ecotours that included a separate component for artists. We offered one of these tours to Trinidad and two to the Amazon. On the Amazon tours we had one with the artists traveling together on the same boat with us and one with artists traveling on a separate boat that traveled along with the general natural history boat but was able to take longer stops at places where the artists could complete comprehensive sketches or photos. The artists’ boat would catch up with the other boat later in the day. What we found was that the artists didn’t want to miss anything that people in the general boat were seeing, and they preferred to stay with us, clipping specimens and keeping them fresh in water along the way. We would travel from one locale to another during the heat of the day, with most people on the “regular” boat taking a siesta or reading, while most of the artists were busily working away on the morning’s specimens or attending workshops led by our friend and artist-in-residence (or rather artist-on-board), Katie Lee. In the afternoon, we would be off in the canoes again, enjoying more of the Amazon’s wonders side-by-side with the artists. Over cocktail hour and dinner together we would view what they had created that day and marvel how each chose to focus on different aspects of nature, or used different styles, media, or techniques to depict the same species. As most of us settled in for the evening, we would notice lights on until late into the night on the artists’ boat as they diligently completed their work for the day. We all learned from each other and had a great deal of fun together on those trips. The Trinidad trip was a bit easier since we were based at a lodge with more spacious facilities for the artists to spread out. Nevertheless, they generally accompanied us on all excursions, and we often enjoyed sitting in on their workshops.

I hope to reach a larger audience with my latest book, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History. In it I have included details about the lives of 35 plus wildflower species that have interested me over the years. As a photographer I’ve spent long hours in the field plant watching, and in the process learning about the plants’ lives. Knowing what pollinates them, how they reproduce, what eats them, etc. gives me a better understanding of how they fit into the environment and a deeper appreciation for their importance. It’s this information — from my own observations and that of many others — which I have written about in the book. Although I am not an artist I feel that depicting some of these interactions would make drawing or painting the wildflowers more interesting, both for the artist and for the viewer of his/her artwork.

About Carol
Carol Gracie is retired from The New York Botanical Garden, where over her three-decade career she served as Senior Administrator of Children’s Education, Foreign Tour Director, and a Research Assistant on tropical plant collecting expeditions. Aside from her current book, she is the co-author (with Steve Clemants) of Wildflowers in the Field and Forest: A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States (2006), co-author (with her husband, Scott Mori, and others) of A Guide to the Vascular Plants of Central French Guiana (Part 1, 1997; Part 2, 2004), principal photographer for Flowering Plants of the Neotropics (2004), and editor of Guide to the Natural Areas of the Lower Hudson Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, second edition (1981). Carol has five plant species named for her (and one named jointly for her and her husband) as a result of her work in the tropics. Carol and her husband live in South Salem, NY.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: