I'm Jim Bentley, a lifelong student, educator, and filmmaker who empowers kids to make the world a better place by integrating environmental literacy, civic education, and filmmaking with project based learning. In our classroom we adhere to the creed of my college alma mater, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo: "Learn by doing."
Currently, I teach 5th grade in Elk Grove, California. My students compose Curiosity Films, and our classroom has been converted into a studio making short educational films about things that matter (See student work on Vimeo and YouTube). We've tackled a variety of topics ranging from landscape blight to light pollution, and household hazardous waste disposal to improving middle school literacy rates and working to promote access to water while reducing plastic waste.
I'm a National Faculty member for PBLWorks and served as a Teacher Ambassador for the California Education and the Environment Initiative . I'm a KQED Media Literacy Innovator, and in 2017 I became a National Geographic Geo-Inquiry Ambassador . In 2018 I was recruited by National Geographic to become one of five inaugural National Geographic Fellows . In 2019 I joined the ranks of National Geographic Explorers, receiving a Planetary Stewards Grant to work with students to map plastic as it moves from suburb to sea. You can see our progress on this ongoing expedition by visiting our Esri Story Map.
I've spent the past two decades exploring big ideas with young people— sometimes leading, sometimes following, yet always recognizing there’s more to learn.