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Nature's Notebook Activities
Explore Nature's Notebook materials created by the National Coordinating Office Staff and partners.
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|Exploring Phenology Data in the Classroom: Plant Phenology Data and Citizen Science||
This activity was designed by Erin O'Connell (at the University of Minnesota) with input from Blake Steiner (University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources) and Claire O'Neill (Earthwise Aware). It guides students through the use of the USA-NPN Visualization Tool to summarize phenology data.
Activity learning outcomes:
|Driven to Discover Citizen Science Curriculum Guide: Phenology and Nature's Notebook||
This curriculum series supports student engagement in ecology-based citizen science and science practices: asking questions and defining problems, planning and carrying out investigations, and communicating findings. The citizen science projects provide a natural springboard to these practices and also connect students to real-world research.
This implementation guide is designed to provide context and activities related to collecting observations on deciduous trees in temperate forestes using Nature's Notebook protocols. It includes four content areas: Building science skills; Contributing to citizen science; and Conducting independent investigations. There are options for a condensed version and extended version, covering the span of an academic year.
View the companion video to the curriculum here:
It is also linked on the USA-NPN NCO YouTube Channel, Videos created by our Partners PlayList.
The guide was produces by a team of authors at University of Minnesota Extension.
Thompson, Ami; Strauss, Andrea L.; Oberhauser, Karen S.; Kooman, Michele H.; Montgomery, Rebecca; Andicoechea, Jonathan; Blair, Robert B.. (2018). Driven to Discover Citizen Science Curriculum Guide: Phenology and Nature's Notebook. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, http://hdl.handle.net/11299/198624.
|Local Phenology Program Sustainability Plan||
The purpose of this Nature’s Notebook Sustainability Plan is to provide documentation of your Local Phenology Program that can be shared with stakeholders, coworkers, or volunteers. This can be a valuable document in the event that you and other founding Leaders are no longer able to work on Nature's Notebook for your organization. Designed outcomes, a list of partnering groups, potential funders, and information about the Local Phenology Program in Nature’s Notebook can help ensure the program’s sustainability in the event of staff or volunteer turnover.
|Examples of Submitted Local Phenology Leader Annual Reports||
Local Phenology Leaders using Nature's Notebook for engaging students, volunteers, and community partners are able to use resources available from the USA-NPN to create annual reports for their stakeholders.
Read an example report from a Local Phenology Program at the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and an example from the Gulf Coast Phenology Trail (an aggregation of multiple Local Phenology Programs) for ideas on what you might include in your annual report.
Don't forget the National Coordinating Office conducts an annual Active Group evaluation as well - share your annual reports and impact statement with us!
|Local Phenology Program Planning & Evaluation Resources||
Local Phenology Program Planning Guide
This resource guide describes how to develop a program plan for monitoring phenology with groups of people. It walks you through the steps to creating a long-term phenology monitoring program for Nature's Notebook, with education, research, management, or all three as an overarching objective. It also includes a checklist on page 13 detailing the succesful elements of a Local Phenology Program designed for sustainability.
Guidance document for developing Nature's Notebook Outcomes and Objectives
Includes details about how to draft and write sound program outcome statements, objectives, and developing a logic model.
Needs Assessment Worksheet
Before you embark on designing any type of long-term phenology monitoring program consider doing a needs assessment to decide what "need" something like a Nature's Notebook might fill. The first link above is a simple needs assessment form which can be used to determine your first steps in program development. You can also share your information with the National Coordinating Office staff by completing the web form linked from that page.
Nature's Notebook Program Planning Activity
Before you dive into writing up a Program Plan for your long-term Nature's Notebook phenology monitoring program, consider using this worksheet to help you think about short, medium, and long-term measurable outcomes. You also may wish to document some of the information you've gathered from your Needs Assessment Form if you've got stakeholders and resources now available to you. If you've decided upon your needs, decided how Nature's Notebook can help you meet those needs and the resources you have available, then you can work backward to determine what specifically you need to do to get you there.
We also offer a planning worksheet in Spanish if you are working with Spanish speaking audiences.
Program Mapping Worksheet
This worksheet will help you think more specifically about the objectives and action steps you need to do to achieve your stated short, medium, or long-term outcomes for your program. Use this to help you better articulate the Short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes and objectives after working through the Program Planning Activity Worksheet.
Logic Model Worksheet
If you'd like to use a more traditional planning template, check our our Logic Model Worksheet for documenting measurable outcomes.
For more information on Program Planning and Evaluation visit the following helpful websites:
Action Planning Template
How are you going to get from point A to point B? This template helps you to document the steps you are taking (your objectives and activities) and provides a place to record what resources you need for each, who is responsible for completing activities and tasks, and documentation for when it is complete.
We also offer a Sustainability Plan where you may wish to document aspects of your LPP in the event that you leave your position and someone else must take over the Program.
Needs Assessment Worksheet: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2017-002-C
Program Planning Guide: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2014-007-C (2014-007-CSP - Spanish)
Logic Model Worksheet: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2017-001-C
|Phenology, Ecosystem Analysis, and Ecological Mismatches by Pete Malecki||
This lesson helps students become familiar with plant and animal species present in an oak tree ecosystem. They are also asked to explore the USA-NPN's Visualization Tool and, from the data, draw conclusions about how climate and climate change affect plant phenology.
This lesson was submitted by Peter Malecki for partial fulfulment of the requirements for the Local Phenology Leader Certification Program in the Spring of 2018.
|Exploring Phenology Using Seed Balls By Lexie Barrell||
The following activity is an introductory lesson in the basics of observation skills for young children. Observation is a crucial component to scientific inquiry as well as many basic life skills. This activity encourages young children to take notice of their surrounding environments and reflect on their observations.
This activity was submitted by Lexie Barrell from the Science Museum of Virginia for partial fulfulment of the requirements for the Local Phenology Leader Certification Program in the Spring of 2018.
|Using your senses to make observations by Amie Cox||
This activity will introduce phenology to students and will serve as a ‘warm up’ to conducting more complex observations to be submitted to Natures Notebook. Students will observe one specimen on their own and practice making simple observations. Followed by a group discussion, students will have the opportunity to share out their process and submit one Nature’s Notebook observation into the database for Red Butte Garden.
This activity was submitted by Amie Cox from the Red Butte Garden for partial fulfulment of the requirements for the Local Phenology Leader Certification Program in the Spring of 2018.
|Phenology for Master Naturalists||
This phenology class was presented in a 3-hour training course for Master Naturalists.
The learning outcomes for the course are as follows:
You may wish to assign Master Naturalists reading before hand, including famous naturalists' writing on the timing of phenological events through time. For this course the following reading assignments were given:
Phenology required reading:
Natural History of the Sonoran Desert:
Phenology Suggested Reading:
The class included examples of phenological mismatch for the Sonoran Desert. This information can be swapped out for other geographic regions. It also included several hands-on activities in the field, exploring the Nature's Notebook protocols. Worksheets for the activities are included above. Homework assignments are also included.
Offered in addition to this lecture was a 3-hour field lab session designed to take a further look into the protocols and learn how to collect observations on species of interest at a nearby partner group site.
USA-NPN Curriculum Resource Number: 2018-001-W
|What can a lilac tell us about national climate change? Using the USA-NPN's Spring Indices to measure the impact of weather on biota||
This lesson can be used as a supplement in a course designed to demonstrate climate change impacts on biotic species or a course designed to study the natural history of species in a given range.
Prior to presenting this lesson the instructor should familiarize themselves with the USA-NPN’s Visualization Tool (usanpn.org/data/visualizations) and First Leaf and First Bloom maps (Spring Index Maps; usanpn.org/data/maps). Both tools have accompanying technical documentation on the website, including tutorial videos and info sheets.
The instructor should also identify a study range and at least two species of interest for student to explore, found on the Nature’s Notebook Plant and Animal list (usanpn.org/nn/species_search). In this example the Tucson Basin was chosen for exploration of the Spring Anomaly and the Northern red oak and Blue Jay were chosen to demonstrate the species phenophase overlap in the Activity Curve. The Activity Curves are designed to display phenological information such as resource availability in an ecosystem. Included with this assignment is an editable student page where the instructor may edit the range and species to be explored.
USA-NPN Curriculum Resource Number: 2018-001-C