By Bill Boyle

We have put together some resources that are based on the 2016 SEMIS Summer Institute. These are resources intended to build on, support and extend the experiences and learning themes that were developed over the course of these four days. (Check out links describing Day 1Day 2, and Day 3.) The themes categorized below are an attempt to organize the resources, but please be sure to look through them with the understanding that everything is interconnected!

Rivers of Life

This activity allows members of a learning community to get to know each other quickly while focusing on a powerful question that is at the center of their learning journey. Starting an inquiry by rooting a question in members’ autobiographies can be a powerful experience. Rivers of Life 2016

Land and Water Connections

On the growing concern and awareness of plastics in the Great Lakes, see Micro Plastics Are a Growing Concern in the Great Lakes.

For an overview of the impact of plastics in the lakes and oceans, check out 5 Gyres Institute. As you may know, there are currently 5 large gyres of plastic floating in the world’s oceans, one of which is the size of Texas.


For a historical example of one town’s history with extractionary consumerism, see Michigan Ghost Town is a Cautionary Tale of Unchecked Capitalism and Environmental Pillage.

Here is a link to our categorization of Consumerism and the Commons. Remember, this list intentionally creates a somewhat false dichotomy between the two as a means of provoking discussion. With that said, it is also a means of addressing and explicating the unconscious embedding of consumerism as a way of life in our culture.

See here for the Power Point used in our discussion.

Water and Wildlife Health

In the institute, we developed an overview of sturgeon as a ways of looking into the history of our extraction of sturgeon, and as a measure of health of the Great Lakes. Here and here are brief overviews of sturgeon in Michigan, from the Michigan DNR, and Michigan SeaGrant. Connected to our institute theme and learning, look for an upcoming blog post from historian Matt Siegfried which will cover his important reading of this history.

Teaching Resources and Partner Links

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

Great Lakes Literacy Principles 

Earth Force 

Alliance for the Great Lakes 

Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support

Friends of the Rouge

University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Environmental Interpretive Center

Detroit Public Television

How the Kids Saved the Parks

Finally, this is the inspiring video that we showed on Day 2. This 14 minute video shows the full scope of connections possible when students take responsibility for the community they live in!