Place-Based Professional Development in Action

This fall, 18 teachers from Wyoming and Utah came together at the Kelly Campus for part one of the Place-Based Education (PBE) Workshop series. This enthusiastic group spent time in lively discussion in and out of the classroom exploring the principles of PBE, both in theory and practice. They hiked on Kelly Campus trails, surveyed macroinvertebrates in Ditch Creek, toured the classrooms at Journeys School, and engaged in a stewardship project with Wyoming Untrapped. Upon their departure, the teachers were given homework to implement some of what they had learned in their classrooms. They recently reported back on their inspiring efforts, just a few of which are described below.

Adventures in Learning Preschool in Evanston, WY shaped a learning experience around making a treat to share with families at their Thanksgiving lunch. Teachers had their class write down a recipe and create a shopping list before heading to their local Smith’s grocery store. While at the store, students were introduced to the manager and given a tour to help them understand how the store runs. One of the teachers, Amanda Hanson, wrote “We were able to add literacy by writing down our recipe, and math by counting out how much of each ingredient we needed. This activity was a great start to bringing in the community and introducing our students to the world they live in.”

The team of participating teachers at The Center For Creativity, Innovation and Discovery (CCID) in Logan, UT delved into several subjects by interacting with different facets of their community. Sarah Cochran embraced being learner-centered and encouraged her 5th graders to follow their interest in art with a trip to the local university sculpture walk. Sarah was excited about how easy it was to integrate PBE into her curriculum. She wrote “After [the TSS] workshop, I realize simply going out to our school grounds to make a connection with something we talked about is place-based. Going to the university in our town is place-based. The university is a big part of our community and has many opportunities for our students to learn outside the classroom.” Jake Grossman, who teaches 4th grade at CCID, engaged in inquiry with his students while exploring the local watershed. While investigating how humans influence their local waterways, the students discovered litter at campsites along a stream and made the connection that this could affect everything downstream. Jake wrote “Even though we had only spend a short while at this site, they were already feeling responsible for the stream and creating plans for stewardship. They came up with ideas about what to do and how to solve the problem.”

Several teachers from the workshop shared that their goals for their future with PBE is to collaborate more with the community and engage their students in meaningful service learning. The Teacher Learning Center will be excited to continue positive momentum with this group when they return to TSS in the spring for part two of the workshop.

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