Tremont envisions a world where…
- Outdoor experiential education is integrated into all classroom learning; and standards are met through interdisciplinary, student-centered teaching.
- Teachers foster excitement for learning and actively use citizen science as a tool to improve scientific literacy.
- Students and teachers co-design high quality research to benefit their community and the national park.
Tremont has the opportunity to make this vision a reality! We are excited to announce that Tremont Institute has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Park Foundation to implement a new teacher education program, Citizen Science 2.0: Equipping Educators to Inspire Future Environmental Stewards. The goals are to connect teachers and students to the national park and to equip classroom teachers with the tools, training, and opportunity to conduct high quality, experiential education. Through a series of residential workshops at Tremont and consults at their schoolyards, teachers will learn and practice experiential teaching methodology and link it to standards-based subject matter. Teachers will develop interdisciplinary curriculum units and co-design with their students a citizen science research program that addresses a need in their community.
Teachers change the world
The benefits of outdoor experiential education are too great for it not to be a recurring and natural part of all classroom experiences. So where do we start?
Tremont continues to grow as a national leader in teacher professional development, and we realize that the benefits of how we teach at Tremont are useful models for classroom teachers. Embedded in our program design is the understanding that for teachers to foster inspiration in their students, they need to be inspired themselves. Teachers are our heroes and they need our support.
Research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that “large majorities of teachers do not believe that professional development is helping them prepare for the changing nature of their jobs” (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014). Regarding professional development, teachers wanted fewer passive presentations and lectures and noted the “best [teacher developments] usually involve hands-on strategies for the teacher to actually participate in” (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014). Teachers called for “opportunities to apply learning through demonstrations of modeling and practice” and the ability to work on professional development for longer periods of time such as a semester or year (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014). Much of this echoes what Tremont Institute learned through our local focus group research.
This research and outreach informs our efforts to meet the true needs of classroom teachers by providing meaningful educational experiences that connect in personal, local, and relevant ways to their students’ lives and communities. We believe East Tennessee is full of wonderful teachers excited to grow their skills in experiential learning and Tremont is uniquely positioned to support them.
How to get involved with Citizen Science 2.0 at Tremont Institute
Tremont will collaborate with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and local schools over a three-year period to create innovative partnerships, provide citizen science engagement for students, and deliver transformative professional development for teachers. Teachers will use the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework to create units around water and watershed education. Furthermore, teachers will experience the value of citizen science projects and connect with valuable community resources to create stewardship opportunities. But wait, there’s more…
- The program is fully funded—workshops, materials and schoolyard project needs are provided by Tremont Institute
- Targets 5th-8th grade teachers from Knox, Blount, Sevier, and Loudon counties in East Tennessee
- Teachers apply in two-person teacher teams from the same school
- Teachers will receive a Toolkit to guide them through the process
- There will be three residential workshops at Tremont (three-day, two-night)
- Teachers receive 40+ contact hours of PD training
Stay tuned for more exciting news about Citizen Science 2.0. Application will be available online at www.gsmit.org in August 2017.
Article by Jennie McGuigan
School Program Coordinator