HOW FAR will a teacher go to find new approaches to help students learn? We know that many educators will dig into their own pockets to spend money on classroom materials and other resources they believe will make a positive difference for their school children.
But the distance some teachers travel for the sake of education can be counted in miles -- nautical miles.
In this worthwhile program, teachers from Maryland, Delaware and Virginia have gone aboard canoes for weeklong programs this summer to learn about ecosystems and aquatic life in the Chesapeake Bay. Conducted every summer by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the program focuses on the bay and offers insight on what its neighbors can do to save our treasured estuary.
Most educators participating in the program pay the $150 cost themselves. (Completing the program and additional assignments can earn credits toward recertification or a master's degree.) Upon reaching the bay, these classroom teachers turn into marine biolgists, scooping up samples from the waters to study creatures whose survival depends on the bay's health.
A recent journey of 10 teachers, including those from Howard and Carroll counties, started in the Brighton Dam Reservoir in Howard and ended at an oyster-shucking house in Calvert County.
These teachers are supplementing the "middleman biologists" who fill school textbooks with first-hand knowledge of life on the bay. Patricia Jefferson, a teacher at Highlandtown Elementary in Baltimore, remarked: "Most of my students would have trouble paying for this. But I can bring it back to them." Said Nicole Scott, a student teacher at Columbia's Swansfield Elementary school, "You can't get this out of a book."
This close-up view of nature makes it easier for teachers to convey lessons to their classes. Their documentation of wildlife and water quality during their excursions becomes the nuclei of compelling lesson plans, and sessions on fish species and the effects of pollution should spur thought-provoking discussions.
The program should help teachers and students gain a deeper appreciation of the bay and the threats to its health.
Pub Date: 8/14/97