Thursday, March 7, 2013

High School Science Teachers Explore Place Based Education as Service-Learning Strategy

More than 40 high school science teachers gathered at one of Chicago's most unique park facilities to learn about how place based education can engage and transform students ability to understand and feel connected to their community. 

Teachers collaborate on tool safety during an ice breaker activity

McGuane Park, located on the city's near south side, is carved out of a former rock quarry and features a fishing pond, natural water drainage system, restored natural prairie area, and some of the very few sledding hills in the city. 

Field Museum educator Laura Milkert discusses water quality testing with teachers

Despite 10 inches of snow on the previous evening, the science teachers braved the elements to learn about place based education and its connection to service-learning.  Educational leaders from Friends of the River, Alliance of Great Lakes, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, De LaSalle High School, The Field Museum, the University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point guided teachers through experiential learning activities that utilize the outdoors to help them engage their own students in learning and service opportunities.  Place based education helps students apply learning in local settings, make positive contributions to their community, feel a deeper sense of connection to place, and, in the words of one teacher, "help immigrant students begin to establish a feeling of connection to this country." 

The Adopt-an-Ecosystem professional development was led by Samantha Mattone of the Department of Literacy's Democracy Learning and Student Leadership Team. Adopt-an-Ecosystem is a collaboration among city environmental organizations to bring high quality service-learning experiences to CPS middle and high school students.  Member organizations include Friends of the River, Friends of the Parks, Alliance of Great Lakes, The Field Museum, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, and Friends of the Forest Preserves. 

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