Outdoor education can be intimidating to some teachers and/or is presented as a “stand alone” lesson without integration into other curriculum requirements. Additionally, environmental education often takes a backseat to Common Core and Social Studies standards. The focus of the Stewards of Tomorrow program is to demonstrate to teachers simple ways to enhance required classroom curriculum with outdoor lessons within schoolyard environments.
Overview of Grant
This program is being offered by the Fair Hill Nature Center through a generous grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
Schoolyard Outdoor Lessons: The Fair Hill Nature Center (FHNC) will provide a total of 6 hours of MWEE activities to all Cecil County Public Schools 1st graders (1,200 students).
2 hours in the fall; 1 hour winter (teacher-led with resources provided by FHNC); 3 hours in spring, including an action project.
FHNC will facilitate and support student-led Action Projects. Nature Center staff will assist teachers with planning, researching, implementing and providing materials for Action Projects; take the lead in spring implementation at schools. Action Project examples: constructing a bee box, planting milkweed seeds/seedlings, becoming a Monarch Weigh Station, making toad houses, making insect habitats, planting a pollinator garden. Each school has $100 to spend on project materials
As part of the MWEE activities, students will draw conclusions about the diversity of their campus based on the evidence they found for living and nonliving things, and explain how their action projects are designed to enhance schoolyard habitats. Teachers will be encouraged to have students create an output in the form of a drawing, writing piece and/or display. These conclusions will be communicated to an external audience by posting student deliverables in a public place, spring fair, school entrance and/or take home letter to parents.
Teacher Professional Development
In collaboration with the Cecil County Public School system, FHNC will offer 15 hours of paid professional development to 1st Grade teachers
(5 hours summer 2016, 5 hours fall 2016, 5 hours spring 2017).
FHNC will create online resources for teachers including outdoor lesson plans and activities, hand-outs; books on related topics available in the local library system, loans of Nature Center materials upon request and availability.