Teachers around the nation are working hard to create new lessons and refine existing lessons to align with the common core state standards. In doing so, educators are also seeking newer and more exciting ways to engage students and propel their leaning and overall achievement.
Whether it’s incorporating new classroom technologies, seeking innovative field trips or simply focusing on project-based activities, teachers are charged with the large task of actively engaging a room of students and facilitating the learning process in a way that works for many learning styles. One way science teachers are working to do this is to incorporate hands-on learning and experiences in their classroom.
A group of science teachers from across the state gathered Saturday at Legacy Ranch for a workshop on how to take students out of the classroom for hands-on work in the field.
Led by Colorado Biology Teachers Association President Cindy Gay, a science teacher at Steamboat Springs High School, educators from across the state were invited to take part in the two-day workshop titled “Takin’ it to the Field” south of Steamboat.
Saturday’s guest lecture was highlighted by University of Colorado Boulder ecologist Tim Seastedt, who presented some of his research on ecosystem changes on the vast Legacy Ranch setting. Seastedt, Gay and other researchers are taking the 14 attendees through field exercises in river, Alpine watershed, astronomy and birding exercises that will conclude Sunday afternoon.
“I love these activities,” Seastedt said. “It’s a learning experience for me, and it gets me out of town, so I appreciate it.”
With Seastedt’s expertise on the matter, the sessions revolve heavily around ecological changes in Colorado’s rural and wildlands. The primary goal of the weekend workshop, Gay said, was interactive learning with students in mind.
“The experiences that (students) have outside stay with them far longer than anything they do in a textbook because they’ve seen it, they’ve touched it,” Gay said. “We know that learning through all your senses, learning through experience and making connections” is more effective.
Gay said the Colorado Biology Teachers Association plans to do various workshops and symposiums on Saturdays throughout the year that are designed to enhance student experience in sciences classes at all education levels. The collaborative environment is intended for teachers to bounce ideas off one another, as well.
Steamboat Springs High School instructor Beth Gravelle said she plans to take what she learns over the weekend and fit it into her curriculum immediately.
“Teachers can choose how to implement it, adapt it,” Gay said. “But 90 percent of everything we do here today, you could walk back into your classroom on Monday and do.”