Project Based Learning in the Great Outdoors (PBL-GO) is a new teacher training program scheduled for August 3-6 in the Sequoia National Park. The program is designed to immerse teachers in the great outdoors and prepare them to lead their own PBL unit involving outdoor field trips and topics.
Circle J-Norris Ranch, the field study site of the SCICON program, is a partner in the training. According to Circle J Lead Teacher Nancy Bruce, “Teachers will spend three glorious days in Sequoia National Park working with like-minded teachers and resource experts. They will leave with a written PBL plan to engage students in outdoor learning, guided by the driving question created during the workshop.”
PBL-GO brings together teachers and resource experts to co-develop field studies that increase environmental literacy and project based learning skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. Presenters provide educational support and professional guidance for teachers to lead their students as they take on challenging environmental issues.
“Another important aspect of PBL-GO is that teachers will develop a network of long-term professional relationships with teachers and resource experts who will provide support throughout the school year,” adds Bruce. “This professional network will assist teachers in locating experts who can work with classes and serve as an authentic audience to students presenting their work.”
In December, PBL-GO teachers will participate in a symposium where they report on progress and challenges with their ongoing project and receive structured support from their peers. Exemplary projects will be invited to an exhibition to allow students to share their progress and the results of the PBL-GO unit with the greater community, perhaps at the second annual “A Night at the 21st Century Museum” event to be held in spring 2015.
PBL-GO is a project of the Sequoia Environmental Education Directive (SEED). The SEED team includes representatives from Tulare County Office of Education, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Sequoia Riverlands Trust, Circle J-Norris Ranch and Sequoia Natural History Association. SEED is dedicated to providing outdoor field trips that inspire students, teachers and community members to explore, examine and conserve local ecosystems.
“Tulare County is rich with outdoor education opportunities,” says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “I am delighted to see the partner organizations working together to provide students with meaningful project based learning experiences.”