BY REBECCAH HAINES

Usually, teachers aren’t known for encouraging students to shout. We tend to be more of a “shush” kind of crowd. However, if you’re going to shout about something, why not make it about solving an environmental issue? While it doesn’t condone disrupting class with loud vocalizations, Shout does encourage students to collaborate and get excited about helping the environment.

Shout provides an online arena for teachers and students to connect with environmental experts, collaborate with people around the world, and share ideas. The central scaffold for learning is called a “Shout.” This year’s theme is “land,” and the first Shout is “Live with the Land.” This Shout was live in November, and like all Shouts, contains three components: Explore, connect, and act. To explore, there are three one-hour sessions from a Smithsonian virtual conference, which are archived and available for viewing. To connect, Shout encourages educators to use the MIcrosoft Partners in Learning Educator’s Network in order to collaborate with other teachers on their effective implementation of the Shout into their classrooms. Finally, to act, students and teachers are encouraged to join TakingItGlobal to collaborate worldwide.

Of course, Shout has a teacher’s guide that gives more specific ideas on how to incorporate Shout into your classroom. Live sessions are planned every three months, with the next session scheduled for January 26, 2011.  This session’s theme will be “Study the Land” featuring the following sessions: A Natural History Approach to Plant Study and Conservation; Climate, Classrooms and Trees; and Charles Darwin in the Islands: Evolution, Adaptation, and Sustaining our Natural Heritage.

In the classroom, I can see several uses for Shout. If you were teaching an AP Environmental Science class for example, and you wanted students to work on some kind of action project, you could send them to Shout to get started. Another use could be with an environmental student club. The site has its first global challenge posted — DeforestACTION. The environmental issue behind this challenge is obviously deforestation, and the challenge to students is to take some kind of local action against deforestation.  To me, this sounds perfect for an after school club project.

If you’re a teacher who wants to develop globally thinking and compassionate students, and especially if you teach environmental science, take a look at SHOUT.  And shout out your joy at having such a well organized site. Just don’t disrupt the math teacher next door.

Shout

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