Action Awareness & Connection Through Intimations of Nature

ACTION is a series of lesson plans created by 2000 HOST Teacher Farr Niere.  

Just as the broad title suggests, Awareness & Connection Through Intimations Of Nature (ACTION) is created to increase the ecological awareness and connection of participants through nature’s intimations. By enabling students to experience a natural setting, ACTION achieves several aims: to enhance a budding naturalists’ awareness of and connection to the environment and to help the students gain a deeper sense of themselves and of society.

ACTION is a series of interdisciplinary, literacy lessons using sensory experiences in nature to explore the fields of literature, social science, art, and natural science, which may on the surface seem unrelated. These explorations culminate in the generation of observations, inquiries, and a field journal. ACTION activities are designed to nurture the sensitivity of a naturalist to ecology and environmental communities.

Because ACTION focuses on the development and awareness of the senses to create a fuller understanding and meaningful experience of the surrounding, the series encourages everyone to study the neurological integration of the senses. Brief background information on how the nervous system processes or interprets the sensual stimuli is provided to help participants understand the role and function of the senses in mediating the nervous system and the natural world. Humans have five senses: taste, smell, sight, touch, and sound. ACTION contains lesson plans for three senses: smell, sights, and sound. However, teachers are encouraged to develop their own learning activities involving touch and taste.

Each ACTION activity contains a title, goal, rationale, materials, and directions. Because of the interdisciplinary approach, several words have and underlined. Although these are common words, they have been marked to remind the facilitators of the importance of diction in language, which is often overlooked in science classes. It is important to discuss the value of these words, especially in context, because of the multiple meanings they possess. The examination of these words, such as their origin or usage, can also act as a springboard to discussions, which are essential to scientific progress. Some activities contain extensions that offer participants a chance to create connections between field biology and another disciplines using their newly gained skills and awareness from ACTION activities.

To make ACTION more meaningful, it is strongly suggested that each participant do the activities by himself/herself. But because scientific progress is a cooperative process, it is also crucial that participants are afforded the opportunity to share their discoveries and experiences. Participants are encouraged to record all their sensations using different colored pens and/or colored pencils and a spiral notebook. Words as well as diagrams and drawings are wonderful ways to document sensations experienced in the field.

ACTION activities may have many extensions beyond those outlined here. Facilitators are encouraged to modify any aspect of ACTION to meet the participants’ needs and promote the best, most integrative experience.