In the spring of their seventh-grade year, students dive into a semester-long humanities study of nature. They explore nature and adventure, nature and connection, nature and commodification, and nature and activism. While this study is normally tied to the grade-level trip, the seventh-grade humanities team of Colin Tribble, Gretchen Kellough, and Emily Robertson still felt it would be worthwhile to continue with this study, even without the trip component.
“At Nueva, we don’t pick a trip location and then create curricula around that,” Colin explained. “We pick something that is worthwhile to study and then we find a place to go that will support that study. Just because we couldn’t go on the trip this year doesn’t mean that what we picked to teach our students isn’t worth teaching them.”
Using the video panels in a Zoom call as inspiration, the teaching team created a culminating project for the unit on nature and activism in which students created their own comic strip. After dividing into four groups and selecting a decade to research—1948–59, 1960–69, 1970–79, and 1980–90—students worked together to select an important environmental event from the assigned time period and create a storyboard of the event. The last step for students was to take a screenshot of themselves in their Zoom room, organized in the correct order.
“This project was special because it really took advantage of online learning: instead of Zoom being a setback to the class, this project used Zoom as an asset,” student Carly B. said. “For our group, we chose to focus on the Ocean Dumping Act of 1988, which, as you can probably guess, banned a lot of ocean dumping. We had a good time making all of the props and getting in a position to take a screenshot. Even though one of the members in our group forgot to hold up her whiteboard, we were easily able to Photoshop it in! Overall, this project was a great example of teachers creatively using Zoom to make fun and interactive activities.”