Spending a couple of days in the swamp may not be your cup of tea. But for 28 intermediate grade science and math teachers from the South Bend Community Schools it was a pretty great way to spend a bit of the summer break and recharge the teaching batteries.
The School of Education at IU South Bend hosted the two-week summer program, which is funded by a $481,000 partnership grant with the South Bend School Corporation from the Indiana Department of Education.
IU South Bend professors – Michelle Bakerson, Judy Lewandowski, Deb Marr, Jim McLister, and Terri Heber – and two community members led the ED2: Earth Day Every Day program, which was designed to help teachers present environmental science in a way that actively engages students.
The teachers explored watersheds along the St. Joseph River, visited the Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area and did focused observation at Potawatomi Zoo.
In the second week of the program, the workshop attendees led a three-day summer camp for grade school children so the teachers could practice what they learned.
Terri Herbert, assistant professor of elementary education, was one of the organizers and instructors. She said she received positive comments from the attendees. “To me science is everywhere. It is a way of life” to look around and see it as a science lesson. This is what the workshop was meant to do.
She added that it is important to bring different methods into the classroom and get teachers and students thinking in a whole different way.
Herbert said there are plans for next year to include other side trips and different topics.
Joseph Hurt teaches at Brown Intermediate Center in South Bend. He was happy with the two-week workshop. “I can honestly say this has been the best training I have ever attended in my short eight year career as an educator. The experiences we had the last two weeks have been very eye opening for me. I feel I do a pretty good job teaching students and keeping things interesting, but this training has really started my brain thinking at a new level of education that students in South Bend need to get them excited about learning in all content areas, not just science.”
Rick Glassman, manager and environmental educator coordinator with the Soil and Water Conservation District, took the teachers into the swamp. “They were enthusiastic. It was great to see the light bulbs go off when they realized they could bring this into the classroom.”
Kelly Ulrich, educational curator at the Potawatomi Zoo, said she was impressed by the work done by the IU South Bend staff and the intermediate teachers. “Many teachers said they would be incorporating the zoo into lesson plans. I’m looking forward to that.”
Written by Kathy Borlik