FIRST HAND LEARNING E-NEWSLETTER
Vol. 5, No. 2


IN THIS ISSUE:

OUTDOOR LEARNING IN PHILADELPHIA
NATURE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
“SAVE THE QUAIL” WINS PLANET CHALLENGE


1. FHL AT NSTA
We enjoyed fabulous spring weather in March – for the second year in a row – during the National Science Teachers Association conference, held this year in Philadelphia, PA. Teachers from around the country joined us at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s wonderful John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge to participate in FHL’s Professional Development Institute, “Outdoor Learning: A Path to Science and Inquiry.”

Focusing on the development of local field guides, participants honed their observational and recording skills while exploring this unique freshwater tidal basin within the city limits of Philadelphia. They made field journal entries, examined a variety of science texts, and discussed how to structure outdoor investigations to captivate students’ interest and enhance their science inquiry and literacy skills. Ideas for incorporating these topics and strategies into the high school biology curriculum were shared among the many secondary school teachers attending.

Thanks to all who participated in this PDI experience, and the other First Hand Learning NSTA sessions this year. We were excited to meet so many who are committed to learning from direct experience and to using the outdoors to meet their teaching goals.

View more photos of the PDI here.

First Hand Learning offers Outdoor Inquiries® and other professional development workshops.

Contact us about your individual PD needs: inquiries@firsthandlearning.org.


2. ONLINE “ECO LIBRARY” OPENS

A new, online resource gives teachers and students free access to high-quality images of the natural world. EcoLibrary offers a selection of photographs, 360o interactive panoramas of different
ecosystems, and thematically linked groups of images for K – 12 teachers. Depending on how the site builds its database, this could be a helpful resource to supplement students’ direct engagement with the world around them. Check it out and let us know what you think: inquiries@firsthandlearning.org.

3. THE DISNEY PLANET CHALLENGE
One way to enhance students’ understanding and connection to nature is to get them directly engaged. The Disney Planet Challenge encourages middle school students to focus on one local environmental issue, to learn about and investigate ways to address the issue, and to develop and take action to improve the environment. Disney’s website offers teachers guidance for carrying out project-based learning, including some lesson plans and alignments to relevant state content standards, and shares examples of past winning entries.

This year, Mrs. Julie Schnedler’s sixth grade class at the Mediapolis Community School, in Mediapolis, Iowa, submitted the grand prize-winning entry, entitled “Operation: Save the Quail.” Congratulations!

Registration for the class project is now open for the 2010 – 2011 school year at Disney’s website.

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The First Hand Learning Catalog offers nature journals, hands-on science kits, posters, and more. Go to http://www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset.html
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We hope you found this edition of the FIRST HAND LEARNING E-NEWSLETTER informative. Please contact us with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have by emailing us at: inquiries@firsthandlearning.org.

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