Last week I participated in one of the best professional learning experiences of my life. I lived on an island in Maine for three days, enrolling in a course called “Lighthouses Across the Curriculum”. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I quickly found myself in PD Heaven with a small group of inquisitive, curious, and adventurous educators.
Our instructor, Elaine Jones, is the ‘keeper’ of Burnt Island Lightstation in Boothbay Harbor, ME. She is a super hero to me. She runs the entire island from the lighthouse, to the keeper’s house, to the educational center she had built there. She designs and teaches the courses for educators and she runs a “living” history museum two days a week on the island that recreates the lives of the keeper and his family from the 1950’s. (She also is in charge of the Maine State Aquarium). Plus she captains the boat that transports participants to the island and to surrounding lighthouses. She literally does it all!
For three days we learned about lighthouses and the lives of the keepers and their families but we also incorporated history, geography, biology, literacy, physics, and map skills (and more). We were immersed in island life and a deeper understanding that could never come from reading about it all. We were given a notebook that filled with our new learning, book recommendations, sketching, poetry, and where we recorded our science experiments. (We even got creative with tempera paints and shaving cream to decorate our covers)
If you live in or around Maine, I highly recommend you check out the summer course offerings. They vary from year to year a bit, but this summer you could choose from “Innovative Learning through Nature, Inquiry, and Mindfulness”, “Lighthouses across the Curriculum”, and “Visual Literacy through Gouache”. I had really hoped to take the first course, but it filled too quickly, but I was thrilled with the Lighthouse Course. If you can’t visit, you can use some of the free Marine Educational Resources offered by Elaine.
It was certainly a summer experience I’ll never forget. You can check out my Google Photo Album here if you’d like to see more. BURNT ISLAND COURSE 2019
This poem by Rachel Lyman Field really sums up my experience.
If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.
Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.
One More Off My TBR Stack
THE PARKER INHERITANCE by Varian Johnson
Candice Miller finds a letter addressed to her grandmother that opens up a mystery about a young girl from dozens of years ago named Siobhan Washington and an injustice done to the black community of Lambert, South Carolina. Her grandmother, Abigail Caldwell, was vilified and fired from her job as the town’s first black city manager when she tried to solve the mystery. Now Candice, with the help of her friend Brandon begin to piece together the clues. Whoever solves the mystery will inherit a fortune to help rebuild the town of Lambert and right a wrong done to some of it’s citizens. Dueling plot and timelines uncover both overt and subtle racism (and discrimination) now and then. A total page-turner with complex characters and serious issues woven in masterfully will leave you loving this book. This brilliant book has it all! A 2019-2020 MSBA Nominee.