John Muir Laws, the naturalist, educator, and artist, has been visiting schools in PUSD for the last four years. He challenges students to “be intentional about turning up the curiosity in their brain.” John Muir Laws is a wildlife biologist, a Research Associate of the California Academy of Sciences, the author and illustrator of multiple books and field guides about nature and natural history, a regular contributor to Bay Nature magazine, and the founder of the Bay Area Nature Journal Club. Additionally, he is a primary author and editor of the interdisciplinary curriculum: Opening the world through Nature Journaling. As his biography states, “He teaches nature study and natural history workshops that incorporate illustration and scientific note-taking as a means to greater observation, memory, and curiosity.” Laws is as Rob Wade introduced him to the students “the ultimate master of field journaling”.
Due to the training and workshops by JML, Field Journaling is being utilized by many teachers and students in Plumas Unified. Field Journaling is a foundational tool for Outdoor Core Curriculum, PUSD’s new Next Generation Science Standards strategy. During the past four years and through nine days of teacher workshops Laws has met with PUSD educators to work on field journaling techniques. This time his focus was on connecting with the students to create a deeper curiosity of the world and a greater understanding of the importance and value of field journaling. As Laws stated, “there is no better thinking tool than a journal.”
Funding support for these workshops was provided through partnerships with the Feather River Land Trust and Plumas National Forest. During five assemblies and seventeen individual class visits in 2017 alone, all K-6th students were reached, as well as their educators.
According to Laws, the three primary steps to exploring the world around us using a field journal include- 1. Observing/ Recording 2. Questioning and 3. Making Connections.
Laws main principle of field drawing is getting students curious about the world around them. He stated, "if we can get the students curious about everyday subjects, the process becomes easily and widely applicable to a wide-range of areas. It's not the snowpack, the leaf, or the field alone that is interesting but the process of capturing the information, of observing, questioning, considering, and finding the mysterious around us. It’s not what you look at but how you look at it; the goal is to be intentional about turning up the curiosity in our brains, which consequently makes the world a more interesting and exciting place.”
For more information on John Laws visit his website: http://johnmuirlaws.com/
To find out more about field journaling in PUSD schools contact Rob Wade: [email protected].