The goal of The Urban, The Wilderness, and Me: An ELA Journey into Nature and Environmental Justice is to overall develop observational thinking and writing skills as foundations for personal narrative writing, historical analysis, and research based problem solving. Through engaging in nature writing and learning content through multiple perspectives and frames of thought, students have different entryways into their understanding of their personal, cultural, and ancestral connection to the land and the environment. The design of the unit also provides a preview of the work students independently engage in as they embark on the yearlong sophomore independent study of Social Justice Symposium. With the skills of creating personal connections, gathering observational data, researching historical implications, and finding local solutions, students will be prepared to select a social justice issue of their choice on which they will address and educate the school and local community.
I want my students to know that the wilderness is a place that cannot be contained by a single narrative but one that is full of multitudes that touch human lives with historic implications and present impact. Though they are a generation born with immense responsibility upon their shoulders in terms of the climate crisis, I want them to know through this unit and through my teaching practice that I stand with them and that together we can take action and create processes that change our community—that make a difference.