The Outside World, In and Around Duluth

Project Wild Workshop

This past weekend, I attended a Project Wild, Project Wild – Aquatic and Project Wild Minnesota workshop at the Boulder Lake Management Area. It was a perfect day for it. In past years, Boulder Lake would still be ice covered in the middle of April. Not this year! Blue skies and a spring wind – mmmm, good.

The training was led by Carl Haensel and Ben Bishop. Ben is in my program, so I knew him. And although Carl looked familiar, I don’t think I’ve ever actually met him, so it’s nice to expand the circle.

Project Wild includes a set – no, a tome! – of curricula for educators to use. The curriculum is tightly woven into K-12 school standards, so any teacher should be able to work it into a lot of different units pretty easily. And indeed, over half the attendees were school teachers or school teachers in training. The rest were environmental education students from UMD.

The agenda seemed to be primarily geared toward providing continuing education credits for teachers, but it’s certainly good info for anyone teaching outside.

Carl and Ben were team teachers, although I think the class would have gone fine with just a single teacher. If I had a wish, though, it would be for the class to be designed differently. We received three huge, thick books, full of hundreds of lesson plans, and we went through about five. So my wish would be that we would have spent some time strategizing how to use the books more effectively, instead of playing “Oh Deer,” which we were all familiar with.

We had a deaf student in the class, which was good. I like adding diversity to experiences – your perspective always expands beyond what you might have taken away otherwise. What I found myself thinking about, though, were the interpreters. There were three, and they were tag-teaming the whole time. Here’s the thing – interpreters (of whatever type) must need to be ready to handle situations for which they have absolutely no technical training. So, when we started talking about macroinvertabrates, there are a lot of concepts and words that start flying around that they need to be able to communicate. “Naiads are shredder macroinvertabrates which can be found in riparian watersheds.” Boy, if I were trying to sign that – yikes! I’m sure there are tricks of the trade, but the job must get stressful, at least sometimes.

Here I am, looking for a bloodworm on the petri dish:

Hooking a microscope up to a TV is genius! Prediction Time: Bluetooth microscope cell phone camera attachment that you view on your iPad. You heard it here first…

Anyway, it was a fun day at Boulder. As we were walking out to the deer exclosure, I mentioned to one of the other students – if the entire grad program was like this, I would never want to leave!

I’ll be interested to see how I’ll be working the Project Wild curricula into my teaching. A dynamite resource, if nothing else.

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