IslandWood's School Overnight Program (SOP) extends classroom learning to the real world, engaging elementary-school students and their teachers in a hands-on exploration of stewardship, environmental learning, and teamwork.
For four days and three nights, students use the environment as a catalyst for learning, practicing critical thinking and actions that build awareness for the wellbeing of both people and our planet.
Through learning adventures at IslandWood, students gain a greater understanding of the following ideas and concepts:
- Recognizing our place in both human and natural communities
- Using creative and collaborative thinking to effectively solve problems in a group setting
- Realizing the effects of behaviors on ecosystems and communities
- Using wonder to ask investigable questions that inspire curiosity
- Supporting conclusions with observable evidence
- Understanding the effects of behaviors on ecosystems and communities
As IslandWood’s longest running education program, SOP has reached more than 53,000 students and their teachers since 1999.
SOP is designed to develop students’ capacities in the following five areas:
- Understanding of and engagement with science: Developing investigation skills and NGSS science practices, supporting claims with evidence, communicating information, and constructing explanations.
- Teamwork and collaboration: Demonstrating the ability to communicate, problem solve, plan, and make decisions within a group and across differences.
- Engaging with place: Exploring place and learning in natural and built environments to raise awareness of and appreciation for nature all around them.
- Embracing safe adventures: Providing safe physical, emotional, and academic “adventures” for students to discover their capabilities, strengthen their self-awareness, and take risks in learning.
- Practicing pro-environmental behaviors: Experiencing and questioning different behavior choices, and practicing community and environmental care-taking, including emotional support of peers and choices about resource use.
We measure our effectiveness in supporting students’ growth in these areas, as well as our impact on teachers, through a comprehensive assessment and evaluation program.
The School Overnight Program has three main goals:
Goal 1: Provide a Foundation of Stewardship
The SOP curriculum builds student understanding of social and ecological sciences through direct exploration of both natural and built environments. We engage learners in critical thinking, investigations, and actions that build awareness of and concern for the wellbeing of people and our planet, and that empower them to take action with and for their communities. The program’s content is strongly aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for Ecosystems and Washington State’s Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Learning Standards (ESE).
Goal 2: Ensure Equitable Access and Culturally Responsive Instruction For All Students
SOP, like all of IslandWood’s Education Programs, is committed to ensuring equitable access and culturally responsive instruction. We do this through:
- Allocation of resources, including scholarship support and a gear library, that ensures at least 50% of the students we serve come from low-income households
- Differentiated programming that meets the needs of each school
- Graduate student instructors who are studying cutting-edge best practices in developmentally-appropriate and multicultural education
- Integration of Arts, Garden, and Food Education to engage all students with the science, community, and stewardship concepts at the core of our curriculum and honor the diversity of our student populations
- Facilitated opportunities for students to engage beyond the borders of segregated systems in the larger world to work together to identify and solve small systems issues, and practice critical social skills such as active listening and respectful dialogue
Goal 3: Develop Meaningful and Sustainable Relationships with Schools and Communities
IslandWood believes that teachers and schools are much more than clients; they are part of our team with a shared vision. In addition to providing deep support for our teachers, we go beyond the school itself to intentionally partner with the students’ communities. We meet directly with parents at our School Orientations and regularly host Community Engagement Forums to listen to, learn from, consult, and develop strategies with these vital stakeholders to better engage each unique, diverse community.