The Lessons from the Bay process model focuses on the Chesapeake Bay watershed as a framework for student learning in a variety of areas, including:
- general knowledge
- knowledge within disciplines
- thinking and problem solving
- basic life skills, such as cooperation and interpersonal communication
- appreciation for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The model uses the natural and the socio-cultural environments as the contexts for learning, while taking into account the effective practices of successful educators. It combines these approaches in a way that
- constructs connections between disciplines, a task at which elementary and middle school teachers are especially adept
- provides hands-on learning experiences, often through problem-based learning
- relies on team-teaching, which gives students the benefit of two or more sets of expertise
- adapts to individual students, taking into account their unique skills and abilities
- develops knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for the environment, which includes both the community and the natural surroundings
- provides students with a meaningful watershed field experience on or near school grounds.
Although the model focuses on learning about the environment, it is not limited to the discipline of science. Teachers may use the model for any curriculum area. The model simply uses a school's surroundings and community as a framework within which students can construct their own learning, guided by teachers and administrators, using proven educational practices.
Patterned after Sunal and Sunal's learning cycle (see Resources), the model begins with exploration, so that instruction can be developed around a context or issue of interest to the students; it then moves to invention, enabling students to gain new knowledge; and it provides students with an expansion for applying the concepts that they learn. To profit from their learning, students need to keep track of the project from beginning to end. They must record what they do and learn along theway. Their documentation should include
- research gathered and sources of information consulted
- investigations and observations (including data)
- learning and personal accomplishments
- actions taken.
To facilitate student learning, the model provides teachers with a process for planning and organizing their units, to include
- examination of local context
- class exploration
- generation and analysis of possible solutions
- solution and action.
As they follow this process, teachers will reinforce the principles of scientific investigation, reasoning, and logic, as outlined in the Virginia Standards of Learning for Science. In addition, they will help students apply the methodology of scientific inquiry to a variety of disciplines as the class discovers the mysteries and importance of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Teacher Planning Activities
Environmental Attitudes, Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviors:
Think about the specific environmental attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors that you would like students to develop during the unit.
As visual tools for constructing knowledge, graphic organizers may be helpful in the design of your unit and in your work with the students. See Environmental Attitudes, Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviors handout PDF • Word.
Brainstorm ways to make your unit compelling to the students. What is the exciting narrative behind the work you and your students will be doing?
A story must have a beginning, middle, and end. How will you introduce the narrative?
- You could show a large, color still photo or video of a local community or natural setting and have students consider the plants and animals depicted. They could describe a typical day in the life of an animal or plant, or contrast a sunny and a rainy day, or a summer and a winter day in the animal's life.
- You could play an audio tape with several different bird calls, have the students distinguish among the calls, and then ask them to describe or draw the setting as they imagine it to be.
What are other possibilities? The story line will provide a way to hook your students into the unit.