From the Editor - Winter 2012

SEEN is pleased to present our GREEN Schools issue! It has never been more important to address environmental issues and many schools have found innovative ways to teach their students environmental stewardship. We have several great articles here about schools that are focusing on green classrooms, in a way that is bringing them enormous cost savings as well as increasing student engagement. It’s a win-win.

We highlight Miami-Dade County Public Schools – the fourth largest school district in the United States – which has had impressive results with their green initiatives. Under the leadership of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, M-DCPS has implemented a green program in which cost savings of over $10 million from energy conservation result in a cash rebate for individual schools – which can be reinvested into the school. In this issue’s SEEN interview, Mr. Carvalho shares his insights on the highly successful program.

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Motivating Your Students to Succeed

Do you teach students who are intrinsically motivated? Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It’s the sense of working toward something simply because we want to or because we feel a sense of accomplishment, and it is relatively easy to know when a student is intrinsically motivated. Students are motivated internally when they pursue an activity independently, enjoy the activity, don’t want to stop working until they are finished, move beyond the minimum expectations, and don’t care if there are rewards attached. Read More »

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Helping Teachers Change by Understanding Why They Don’t?

I’m not one to be mired for long in reasons why teachers don’t change, at least in reasons over which I have little control.  On the other hand, for the last 13 years I’ve been a little obsessed about why teachers don’t change when I train them. Understanding why teachers change little after our professional development sessions led to improvements in the kind of planning we do just before teachers enter the classroom to teach new standards and strategies.  We now provide both teachers and curriculum a way to achieve classroom readiness. Read More »

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Going Green

Florida’s first LEED Gold certified school and 2012 National Green Ribbon School has become a role model for other schools hoping to ‘go green.’ Read More »

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GROWING from the inside out revisited

Many years ago at Winyah Academy in Georgetown, South Carolina, where I was serving as headmaster, we began a quest to instill in our parents, students and staffulty a lifelong commitment to never again trash our campus, community, state or nation. The inspiration for this movement came from a television public service announcement against littering which featured a Native American chieftain with a tear rolling down his cheek. It was a powerful visual reminder that we are all in this together — as Woody Guthrie penned, “This land is your land; this land is my land.” It would become a lifelong commitment to never litter again. What could this simple decision mean for our country? A greener, cleaner America! Commitments such as this one must grow from the bottom up; they cannot be mandated.

Inspiration, not legislation ...

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Students Wanted No training provided

As I travel around the country training teachers, I always begin each workshop by asking the same question: What are the worst problems in your classroom? From Kotzebue, Alaska to Miami, Florida, the answer is always the same. Teachers are really worn down by serious classroom management problems like disruption, disinterest and tardiness. The solution may surprise you.

I bet you’ve never thought about it but few schools have any plan whatsoever to train kids to be students — and the rampant problems with student behavior reflects that overwhelming oversight. So, even though you have a carefully crafted curriculum plan to teach academics, no comparable curriculum or plan exists to train kids to become prepared, motivated, students who can fully benefit from your academic offerings. The result: You work with untrained, unmotivated kids.

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Relevant Tags: PROBLEM SOLVED, classroom management, classrooms, teaching, Dr. Ruth Herman Wells,students, curriculum, education, problems, school skills, classroom management, skills training, ruth herman, herman wells, management problems

PowerSave Schools: Empowering students, saving energy

Alliance to Save Energy

For schools across the country, the challenge is clear: energy is expensive. But energy efficiency — unlike other ways to economize — not only saves money, it actually improves comfort and performance.

After salary-related expenses, energy is usually the largest cost for the nation’s K-12 school districts, amounting to some $6 billion each year. Many cash-strapped systems routinely spend tens of thousands of dollars to heat and light antiquated school buildings; and even occupants of newer buildings can achieve savings once they learn how to employ energy efficiency.

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Relevant Tags: green classrooms, PowerSave Schools program, energy efficient schools, energy, powersave, students, education, efficiency, powersave schools, energy efficiency, schools program, energy use, southern california

Miami-Dade District’s partnership with local non-profit gets big returns

Today, as basic literacy continues to drive public educators around the world, other ‘literacies’ have evolved in response to accelerated climate disruptions and changes in population, communication, economics and the global environment. Environmental, energy and climate literacy are concepts that strive to redefine the accelerating and intertwined role that science and the environment play in shaping humanity’s future.

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Relevant Tags: green classrooms, Dream in Green, Miami-Dade School District, energy, green, students, education, miami, buildings, green schools, schools challenge, miami dade, climate change, school buildings, energy efficiency, van bryce

Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Leading the way on green schools

Alberto M. Carvalho is Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the nation’s fourth largest school system, serving a diverse student body of over 350,000 students. M-DCPS has an annual budget of almost $4.3 billion and has 53,000 employees.

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Relevant Tags: The SEEN Interview, Alberto Carvalho, Green Schools initiatives, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Millennial Access Platforms to Third Millennium Learning, carvalho, education, seen, district, green, miami dade, alberto carvalho, green schools, publ

Education: Where going GREEN makes $ense

What Does Green Mean?

The notion of “green” conjures up different things for different people. These notions are dependent on context, as clarity is offered by time and place. For example, green can mean go if you are at a traffic light. Green can refer to plant cover if you are outdoors. Green can mean money if you are looking in your wallet. Green can be your favorite color. Green can equate to sustainable if you are examining processes of production. Green can be made by mixing blue and yellow if you are painting. Green can be your favorite kind of tea.

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Relevant Tags: green classrooms, saving money, going green, green benefits, students, education, learning, environmental, service learning, professional development, environmental education, project learning, green schools

6 smart purchasing choices make it easy to be green

Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s not easy being green.” The pressure to go green, help the environment and save the earth is growing, but at times it can appear to be at odds with the pressure to be cost effective in purchasing.

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10 ways to go GREEN and save more than $500 each year

Want to save money and help Mother Nature along the way? Here are some health-based options to do just that.

Going green makes sense — protecting the environment makes life better in many ways. When you can save green, watching out for Mother Nature becomes even more appealing.

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Relevant Tags: green classrooms, saving money, 10 ways to go green, save, water, education, green, money, save money

The current reality on STEM

Picture a traditional classroom, desks in rows or in small groups, occupied by students whose postures suggest they have somewhere else they’d rather be. You walk silently into this room and as you appear in the doorway, smiles become contagious and students snap to attention, tapping their neighbors. 

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Relevant Tags: STEM curriculum, teaching, STEM lessons, stem, teachers, students, education, learning, administrators, stem education, professional development, support stem, student achievement, administrators teachers

STEM Mastery

Technology and engineering, both critical dimensions of our modern global economy and society, require mastery in science and advanced math. The good news: STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations are expected to grow 17 percent between 2008 and 2018 versus 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM jobs, and earn 26 percent higher wages. The bad news: an estimated 3,000,000 STEM-related jobs remain unfilled because of learning and skills gaps. 

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Relevant Tags: stem curriculum, Sea Research, America’s STEM Deficiency, STEM education, stem, education, students, jason, science, math, engineering, stem education, high school, stem mastery, technology engineering, stem curriculum, advanced math, science math, s

Linking assessment, instruction and learning in Science and Mathematics

Ask a science or mathematics educator what the first word is that comes to mind when they hear the word assessment, and the response is likely to be the “T word”— testing.

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Relevant Tags: stem curriculum, science, math, assessment, assessment, learning, students, science, mathematics, instruction, education, formative assessment, science mathematics, instruction learning, linking assessment

Students are the reason for the COMMON CORE mathematics standards

The Common Core Mathematics Standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice are at our doorsteps. Opportunity for serious change, a change that is purposeful, meaningful and that positively impacts students and their learning of mathematics, is knocking. The ultimate question is “Will leaders open their doors?”

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Relevant Tags: common core, mathematics, teachers, students, leaders, standards, common core, mathematics standards, core mathematics, core standards, leadership teams

Are ready-made lessons insulting to teachers?

I’ve been following the online conversation about the need for quality materials to help teachers implement the Common Core Standards. I see a paradox brewing.

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Relevant Tags: Common Core Standards, ready-made lessons, common core curriculum, teachers, writing, education, lessons, standards, elementary, common core, core standards, elementary teachers, writing lessons, professional development

A perfect storm — bullying and harassment litigation

A perfect storm is growing in K-12 education and it is brewing with intensity. Bullying and harassment litigation is on the rise and all educators should take note. The ‘favorable conditions’ — frustrated and angry parents, an accommodating legal profession, a perception that educators will not respond to or stop bullying, and economic conditions that may encourage individuals to pursue litigation as a remedy and potential source of income.

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Relevant Tags: bullying,harassment, litigation, procedures, bullying, school, students, staff, education, parents, bullying harassment, harassment litigation, perfect storm, bullying behaviors, bullying prevention

GenYOUth Foundation makes a big hit with childhood obesity research

Recently I was privileged to join our Georgia Academy of Family Physicians industry partner, Southeast United Dairy Industry (SUDIA), at the Learning Connection Summit in Washington, DC. At this conference, researchers in the field of childhood obesity presented information to industry and education leaders from around the country.

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Relevant Tags: GenYOUth Foundation, health, nutrition, Fuel up to Play 60, education, product, children, obesity, childhood, industry, research, family, childhood obesity, genyouth foundation, family physicians, georgia academy

Student-driven classrooms: Who does the hard work of learning?

When I heard Charlotte Danielson say those words, I was struck by what my students would call a BFO – a “blinding flash of the obvious.” Learning is hard work if the learning is powerful and authentic. Teaching is hard too, but it shouldn’t be harder than learning. So why are the classrooms I visit filled with students who have lots and lots of energy to create mayhem and with teachers who seem harried and exhausted as they run from place to place trying to provide all the information and answer all the questions? If the learner does the learning, why are the teachers doing the hardest work in the classroom?

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Relevant Tags: classroom management, teaching, student-centered learning, students, learning, student driven, hard work, student centered, critical skills

Effective teaching: Developing the teaching practice

Increasingly, teachers are under scrutiny to prove that they are effective in the classroom, be it through the standardized tests results of their students or other measures being developed in school districts.

However, for many teachers, the period after their entry into the profession and early mentoring leaves them with few opportunities to improve on their craft except through district provided professional development programs – often on short budgets.

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Relevant Tags: classroom management, classroom, education, teachers, teaching, program, effective teaching, student outcomes, better student, professional development, teaching practice

Teacher value in student-driven learning environments

Imagine for a moment the kinds of things that make not just for an effective classroom experience, but one that is rich and rewarding for both students and instructor. Included on your list might be things such as captivating content delivery, students taking responsibility for their own learning, time for individual attention, and a sense that you have imparted not just knowledge but enthusiasm and curiosity as well.

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Relevant Tags: classroom management, student-driven learning, 21st century classroom, students, learning, teacher, education, student driven, classroom management, teacher value

Overcome teacher’s BYOD fear with classroom management software

The BYOD Trend

On April 3, 2010 the iPad started shipping. I admit that I couldn’t quite figure out why I would want a device that was basically a bigger version of my iPhone. Since that time, I’ve watched in amazement as the iPad sales have skyrocketed and schools across the country started purchasing and implementing large numbers of tablets.

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Relevant Tags: classroom management, BYOD Trend, iPad, mobile devices, classroom, students, management, byod, software, school, education, learning, teachers, classroom management, management software, mobile learning, byod environment

eBooks and iPads and Apps oh my!

Once upon a time teachers came to class armed with chalk and books. Schools had libraries filled with bookshelves, where silence was golden, and noise was the rustle of turning of pages. Now technology has moved in, and schools are filling classrooms with iPads, iPods and computers galore. With the infinite possibilities that a connected classroom brings, teachers are having to adapt, where students have an advantage growing up in a digital age, and in some cases teach the teachers.

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Relevant Tags: technology, education, technology, teachers, classroom, schools, students, sylvan dell, dell publishing, lee german, common core, ebooks ipads

Classroom dilemma: Including students with learning challenges

At the beginning of each new school year, many classroom teachers are faced with students whose learning challenges require accommodations in the classroom. According to the U.S. Department of Education (2011), 59 percent of students with disabilities are being served in a general education classroom. With the passage of legislation including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA, 2004), students with disabilities have a right to access the general education curriculum in the least restrictive environment. As a result of IDEIA, efforts have been made to provide students with increasing access to the general education classroom regardless of their learning ability. These changes can cause stress for educators who may think that they have to change their entire classroom to accommodate students with learning challenges. This is not necessarily the case. Salend (2011) defines an accommodation as “changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment that allow students to participate in and access all aspects of inclusive classrooms and schools without significantly altering the nature of the activity” (p. 57).

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Relevant Tags: special needs, learning challenges, student inclusion, ADHD, classroom, students, education, accommodations, learning, learning challenges, special needs, brain injury

Preparing teachers for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

The incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has dramatically increased from one in 15,000 to one in 88, accounting for approximately one percent of the U.S. population. Once considered a rare and severe disability (low incidence), these individuals are now educated in every academic environment with 89 percent spending a portion of their day in the general education setting. 

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Relevant Tags: special needs, Autism Spectrum Disorders, learning disabilities, asd, education, autism, instruction, spectrum disorders, autism spectrum, general education, direct instruction, personnel preparation, preparation programs

How students diagnosed with learning disorders can succeed in public schools

Public schools can be very difficult for students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Aspergers, Dyslexia and other learning disorders. These students often struggle with basic skill sets including the ability to focus in class, understanding and having success in social interactions, reading, writing and more. Most students are unable to attend private schools, which often tailor a program to meet their individualized needs. 

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Relevant Tags: special needs, learning disorders, public schools, succeed, students, strategies, education, learning disorders, public school

Onboard with online professional development for teachers

The requirements vary from state to state, but all educators are faced with the same dilemma every three to five years: obtaining the necessary continuing education credits for licensure renewal. As teachers, we believe in learning. We practice informal professional development (PD) almost daily by sharing teaching strategies with our colleagues, reading about the latest discoveries in our content areas, developing new classroom materials — the list goes on and on. Yet those countless hours of honing our skills don’t count when the time comes to renew our licenses. There are many challenges to meeting the demands of these requirements, but online learning technologies can help remove those barriers.

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Relevant Tags: online professional development, teacher development, teaching strategies, online, education, development, courses, professional, teachers, professional development, online professional, online courses, school teacher

Why aren’t there seat belts on school buses?

As school bus seat manufactures, the most common question we are asked is “Why aren’t there seat belts on school buses?” Our typical answer is “How much time do you have?”

The National Highway Safety Transportation Agency (NHTSA), the governing body of school bus regulations, has done much research on this subject and concluded that seatbelts are not required in large school buses. However, in a new ruling in 2009, it was determined that small Type A school buses — 10,000 pounds or under gross vehicle weight (GVW) — would require three point lap-shoulder belts. The reasoning for this is that the smaller buses are not built to absorb the same amount of energy as the larger buses with the higher GVW.

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Relevant Tags: school bus safety, seat belts, school bus regulations, seat, bus, belts, education, school buses, seat belts, bus seat, seat belt

Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect: It’s your moral and legal duty

Teachers are busy people, and are always “on.” They take on a variety of roles and have to be quick on their feet. On any given day they will make hundreds of perfunctory decisions, such as whether or not to issue a bathroom pass to a student; when to administer the next test; what to emphasize in the next unit; or what to have on display for the upcoming open house. Other decisions, though, will require teachers to be more thoughtful because of the considerable impact those decisions could have on students’ behavioral or academic performance — as well as on their well-being.

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Relevant Tags: student safety, child abuse, child neglect, child advocate, child, abuse, teachers, children, education, reporting, child abuse, abuse neglect, good faith, mandatory reporting, reporting suspected

Southern Museum examines railroad’s role in the south before, during and after the Civil War

When James J. Andrews and a group of Union spies stole the General locomotive on April 12, 1862, from what is today Kennesaw, Georgia, they — perhaps unwittingly — demonstrated the importance of railroads.

The group headed toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, intending to destroy the Western & Atlantic Railroad, a major transportation link for the Confederacy that helped move troops, supplies and prisoners. The event is known today as the Andrews Raid or the Great Locomotive Chase.

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Relevant Tags: Field Trip Destination, Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History, Civil War, American history, civil, museum, education, southern, locomotive, flag, southern museum, andrews raid, museum examines, civil locomotive, general locomotive, field

Interest in the Civil War has never been greater

One hundred and fifty years ago, our nation was divided by a long and bloody conflict that pitted state against state, town against town, and even family members against one another. In every part of the south, the Civil War experience was different. Affluent agricultural areas had a large economic stake in the outcome, while economically depressed areas often had little interest at all. In the end, money, cannons, strategy and a near endless supply of conscripted immigrant soldiers made the difference for the North.

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Relevant Tags: Field Trip Destination, Civil War, South Carolina State Museum, American history, civil, education, against, experience, civil experience

Educational opportunities at Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center is home to one of the Southeast’s largest history museums with award-winning exhibitions; two historic houses including Swan House and Smith Family Farm; the two-story Centennial Olympic Games Museum; 22 acres of historic gardens and trails; the Kenan Research Center; and the Margaret Mitchell House located at their midtown campus.

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The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum Come relive the Battle of Atlanta

The 150th Sesquicentennial of the Civil War has been commemorated nationwide the last couple of years; leading up to one of the last major battles to end the war, the Battle of Atlanta. Nowhere can the true drama of the Battle of Atlanta be more appreciated by students and educators than at the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum! The Battle of Atlanta was very significant in the overall Civil War due to its potential effect on Lincoln’s re-election as president and Atlanta’s transformation into a flourishing city with a great future. As you cross the threshold of the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, you are setting foot into the pages of history.

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Zoo Atlanta offers programs by teachers for teachers

Imagine the old wooden schoolhouse of a century ago. Answering the call of a hand-rung bell, students entered schools that were often no larger than one room. They sat shoulder-to-shoulder with neighborhood kids of all ages and learning styles, and the quality of the education they earned while there relied directly on the effectiveness of one person: the teacher.

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Troy University’s Rosa Parks Library and Museum

Troy University’s Rosa Parks Library and Museum, a major landmark in the revitalization of downtown Montgomery, was constructed on the site of the old Empire Theatre where Mrs. Parks made her courageous and historic stand in 1955. Six distinct and unique areas inside this interpretive museum tell the story of bravery and courage of early Civil Rights warriors. 

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Class trip + lowcountry = ‘Whoa, that’s cool’

Nature, history and culture are seamlessly woven into the fabric of this region known for its unhurried pace of life and southern hospitality. It is a most welcoming and memorable destination for middle and high school end of year trips of discovery.

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‘Walk in the Steps of Heroes’ on the USS Yorktown

You are cleared for an unforgettable landing as you explore and experience the ship affectionately known as the “Fighting Lady” — the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point on Charleston Harbor. The Institute of History, Science and Technology provides a full range of History and Science educational programs on board the Yorktown. Our programs use the Yorktown and its estuarine environment as hands-on “real life” teaching stations, and are designed to capitalize on the “awe” factor of the massive aircraft carrier and its natural surroundings.

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Berkeley County, South Carolina Where education meets adventure

Berkeley County is the ideal place for students seeking adventure and education in non-traditional forms. Enjoy yourself on the blackwater swamps at Cypress Gardens while spending the day learning about wildlife from butterflies and beetles to turtles and alligators. Visit the Heritage Room which features unearthed artifacts from Dean Hall Plantation which dates back to the 1700s. The Heritage Room also features the largest collection in the United States of Colonoware — a low-fired, locally made pottery that was made by both free and enslaved African Americans. Cypress Gardens offers a variety of programs for groups of all ages. For more information visit

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Relevant Tags: Field Trip Destination, Berkeley County, Old Santee Canal Park Berkeley Museum, berkeley, education, canal, history, park, south, carolina, berkeley county, south carolina, canal park, old santee, santee canal, cypress gardens, berkeley museum

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum: A center for educational programs

Nestled in the heart of the Everglades on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is home to more than 35,000 unique artifacts, archival items and experiences. Here, one can learn about the Seminole people and their rich cultural and historical ties to the Southeast and Florida.

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Relevant Tags: Field Trip Destination, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, Everglades, Native American , seminole, museum, american, education, everglades, tah thi, thi museum, seminole people, big cypress, native american, indian reserva

Students get hooked on science at the Virginia Living Museum

“Wow! That ancient shark must have been as big as school bus!” exclaimed an excited sixth grader as he held up a seven-inch-long, five-million-year-old fossil shark tooth with serrated edges as sharp as a steak knife. On the table in front of him were the full upper and lower jaws of a modern bull shark whose teeth looked like miniatures by comparison.

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Relevant Tags: Field Trip Destination, Virginia Living Museum, natural science museum, National Science Foundation, science, students, education, museum, virginia, programs, living museum, natural science, science education, museum programs

Busch Gardens’ wolf pups make debut

Busch Gardens’ three-month-old wolf pack quietly made their public debut in early August. The pups quickly got down to business exploring their new habitat in the park’s Wolf Valley. The valley is a naturally landscaped habitat featuring logs, a flowing stream and naturally growing vegetation. A bridge overlooking the valley offers guests a bird’s eye view of the wolves as they explore their new surroundings.

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Relevant Tags: Field Trip Destination, Busch Gardens, wolf pup, Wolf Valley, wolf, busch, pack, education, pups, gardens, idaho, boise, busch gardens, wolf pups, pack mates, wolf valley, busch gardens

Our Goal: to reinvigorate the spirit of American education.  The Southeast Education Network, through SEEN Magazine and, presents resources, ideas and techniques to help educators become more effective while growing personally and professionally. SEEN Magazine is dedicated to educators, school administrators, and the education community.