PDI-4: Outdoor Learning: A Path to Science and Literacy
Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Location: Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Room 407/408
Science Area: Integrated/General
Intended Audience: Elementary; Middle Level; Informal Education; General
Recommended Pathway Sessions
First Hand Learning
Patricia McGlashan, First Hand Learning, Inc.
E. Wendy Saul, Univ. of Missouri–St. Louis
Mark Baldwin, Roger Tory Peterson Institute
Therese Arsenault, Lansing Middle School
- In what ways can the environment around the school be used as a resource for linking science and language development?
- How does investigation of the natural world lead to engagement in reading, writing, and talking?
- What strategies can teachers employ to introduce students to the different literacy genres used to communicate about science?
- How can field guide development contribute to best practices in science education and language development?
- What is the evidence that demonstrates student achievement in science and literacy?
Are you searching for meaningful ways to integrate the development of students' science learning with literacy? Would you like to make science inquiry an engaging and site-specific experience for students, but need practical suggestions for how to use a school’s outdoor environment to do it? In this daylong workshop participants will practice naturalists’ techniques to record observations and communicate findings, identify and use different genres of science writing, and learn how to structure outdoor investigations that will provide on-going and varied opportunities for firsthand learning that promotes skill development.
Research on environment-based education has demonstrated that programs that connect students to their surrounding communities can result in improved standardized test scores and the development of skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making (Lieberman & Hoody, 1998, 2005; Athman & Monroe, 2004). However, many teachers and administrators are uncertain how to take advantage of their local natural resources to meet these educational goals, even as the research focus and testing pressures of NCLB legislation are creating a growing imperative for teachers to understand how to employ science instruction to promote language development. This PDI will provide both specific strategies and conceptual structures to support environment-based inquiry and the integration of science and literacy.
Participating teachers, administrators, informal science educators, and professional development leaders will experience firsthand the process of recording observations in a field journal and creating a field guide to a local habitat. Examples of authentic student work will be reviewed and practical methods for assessing student achievement identified. Participants will reflect upon their own classroom experiences and analyze the numerous possibilities that keeping a journal and creating a field guide provide for strengthening their students’ skills in these areas. After discussing how they could transfer the strategies they experience at the PDI to their own teaching situations, participants will develop their own plans for integrating science and literacy seamlessly.
Participants should dress comfortably, with weather-appropriate footwear and outerwear.
This PDI is presented by First Hand Learning, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 to promote inquiry-based teaching, learning from direct experience, and closer links between cultural institutions and schools. First Hand Learning's work in professional development and curriculum design has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the John R. Oishei Foundation, among others. See www.firsthandlearning.org.