Calendars in the Classroom: virtual learning style

By Julia Weimer

Student and teacher Zooming
Clare Thompson and a student share the Weatherguide during an online class.

Freshwater happily supplied Minnesota Weatherguide Environment calendars to 50 middle schoolers at Crosslake Community School—a charter school focused on environmental education—this year through the Calendars in the Classroom program in partnership with the Jeffers Foundation.

The students, grades six through eight, will use the calendars in an environmental education course led by teacher Clare Thompson, who we chatted with about her enthusiasm to employ the calendars in her classroom.

The Weatherguide calendars are not unfamiliar to Clare, who has enjoyed them herself for years and is now sharing that enjoyment with students upon her recent return to teaching after raising her children. She teaches through Crosslake’s online program and has students tuning into class from all around the state. Clare says using the calendar’s local phenological data to take observational notes of the local environment in their nature journals to compare with their peers will give her students a sense of connectedness to each other—and to their state community.

Igniting interest in nature

Serving to educate and kindle enthusiasm for the natural environment, the Weatherguide is full of factual scientific charts, documents, and images of Minnesota’s meteorology, phenology, and astronomy with materials like precipitation averages, weekly daylight measures, a monthly species of focus, planet positions, moving nature citations and snapshots, and more.

Online resources and lesson plans correspond to the calendar’s monthly information, which Clare became familiar with at a workshop held by the Jeffers Foundation this summer outlining the calendars and their functions in the classroom.

Tracking, observing—and beautiful photos

“I was overjoyed to see someone had worked up lessons using this fabulous calendar,” she said. One of the projects students will tackle throughout the school year will be constructing graphs tracking the calendar’s listed yearly averages alongside their individual observations of daily temperature and Sun and Moon positions. Clare says the Sun declination and astronomy resources will be very helpful in teaching sky observations.

Clare is certain the calendars will enhance her students’ observational skills. When asked what she thinks the students’ favorite part of the calendar will be, she confidently answered, “The pictures!” She hopes the monthly photos will inspire them in their pursuit of nature photography for their nature journals. According to the alumni of last year’s environmental education class with Clare, the coursework made them more appreciative of nature and more inspired to take action for watershed protection, which we at Freshwater love to hear. We hope the Crosslake Community middle schoolers enjoy their Minnesota Weatherguide Environment calendars—and engaging with their natural environment!

Weatherguides in Mahtomedi Public Schools

Together, the Jeffers Foundation and Freshwater work together to reach thousands of kids and teachers each year: They supply the curriculum and we supply calendars! Here’s another classroom teacher who used Weatherguides in her classroom in Mahtomedi (pre-COVID):