This spring has been one that I’ve really stopped to observe the changes in our environment. Part of this has been due to being asked to make a video for a local school’s environmental day and part is my own interest in phenology – or signs of the change of seasons. As I’ve aged, these changes have become more important to watch, notice, and record. If you’re familiar with my posts at all, you know that one of my favorite ways of recording is to take photographs.
Most of the focus in my phenology video took place in my own yard, in our home fruit orchard. This orchard, one that we planted, served well as the backdrop for my comments about the changes in our environment as we go from winter to spring in northern climates. The video was due by April 7th, so all of my taping was done during the month of March.
There have been huge changes in the orchard since my last recording on March 29th. The trees have leafed out and the blossoms are starting to appear. Also, the verdancy of our yard has changed immensely.
In addition, the bulbs that were just sprouting in March are now fully flowering tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. I used to think fall was my favorite season, but now I am not so sure – it might be spring.
The task of making a video, specifically for first graders was challenging. Not only is this age group not one I am used to working with, producing the video was not easy. I acquired first-hand experience and empathy for all the educators who made their own videos to teach this year. And, once I thought I had it done at a length of 15:50 (they had stated that 20 minutes would be sufficient), I ran into a problem of publishing it. At first the problem seemed to just be the length. But, then I found that it was more than that. My iMovie program is old. I cannot seem to publish it to anything. In other words, I could not get it off of my computer! Of course, this was the day before it was due to be delivered to the school! I couldn’t publish to email, to a file, to the theater on iMovie, to YouTube, Vimeo, or the cloud. It took most of a day to figure out what to do.
Finally, I recalled my son’s screen recording of a meeting this spring. He has a MacBook as well. I texted him to see if he thought it would work. Sure, he said and told me the commands. The good news is that it did work. The bad news is that since it is a screen recording, more keyboard taps must be made before the video is seen. Of course, that gets recorded as well. It only takes the first 5 seconds, but still, it’s not as professional as I would have liked. The end is contaminated with the same arbitrary clicking that is needed to stop the record as well. The QuickTime player controls are obscured by the iMovie, so it is hard to see where to stop the recording. Finally, I found it. I have done enough teaching in a classroom to know that usually, teachers will stop the video prior to it ending anyway.
The voice-over audio is low in one place near the end, I tried to correct most of the spots where uneven audio (either too loud or too soft) is experienced. But, there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough and leave it alone.
The finished video runs just shy of 15 minutes. The school and first graders loved it! I have the email and thank you notes to prove it. In general, I am proud of my attempt and do think the video conveys what it needs to about the change of seasons.
But, here’s the thing about environmental education. The lessons need to be shared. I’ve never been paid for my lessons over the 17 years of providing them. It comes with the territory. However, if one is serious about the environment you want others to have the knowledge to 1) appreciate it, and 2) do something to conserve it. In the paraphrased words of Donald Sobel, “We have to teach our children to love the earth before we ask them to save it.”
So, after some internal debate and a deletion/substitution of the part of the video that was a specific reference to the school for which I made the recording, I decided to share the video here.
Many participants in Slice of Life are teachers. Earth Day is this week. Maybe some of you in northern climates would want to use the video before taking your class outside for a walk (if you are not still virtual). I only ask that if you use it, you let me know how many students you showed it to.
Get outside this week, being in nature has many benefits for humans, spiritually, emotionally, and cognitively. It can reset our mood and change frustration to appreciation. Celebrate the Earth and all it does for us!