Life in the real world good teaching tool




Pictured at the 1100-acre outdoor classroom at McDowell Environmental Center near Jasper where they attended a three-day course are (from left) Darren White, science teacher from Hayden Middle School; Deb Hicks, teacher of the gifted at Oneonta Elementary; Brandon Maniscalco, science teacher, Hayden Middle; and Debra Gordon- Hellman, Friends of the Locust Fork River's education committee.

Pictured at the 1100-acre outdoor classroom at McDowell Environmental Center near Jasper where they attended a three-day course are (from left) Darren White, science teacher from Hayden Middle School; Deb Hicks, teacher of the gifted at Oneonta Elementary; Brandon Maniscalco, science teacher, Hayden Middle; and Debra Gordon- Hellman, Friends of the Locust Fork River’s education committee.

Face it: book learning isn’t very exciting, but expanding it to life in the real world imbues it with value. Educators pictured here joined others from Mobile to Huntsville to take advantage of a free, three-day environmental course at Camp McDowell called “Living Streams” to bring meaningful, hands-on enriching education opportunities to Blount County students. Not only were room and board free to the educators; provision was made for their substitutes’ pay.

Besides learning new curricula that promote learning through exploration and discovery, attendees also learned from experts about such topics as Alabama salamanders, Alabama’s physical diversity and aquatic biodiversity, and biological monitoring of our streams. They hunted for salamanders, made kick seines, and got into the stream to collect and identify macroinvertebrates to determine stream health. At least as important as the information gathered and experiences to replicate with classes was the opportunity to share with other educators.

“I feel like we’re on the Oprah Winfrey show!” exclaimed Deb Hicks after everyone received the complete Discovering Alabama DVD Series, Project Wet course book, Living Streams course book with accompanying educational DVDs with Macro Mania game, the acclaimed national bestseller, Last Child in the Woods – Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, and more educational goodies – all for free.

Other free courses on fossils and geology as well as a repeat of this course for elementary school teachers through high school will possibly be offered this summer. Contact McDowell Environmental Center at maggie@campmcdowell. com for more information.

Other sponsors helping to make this exciting, informative workshop possible were Alabama Water Watch, Legacy, Discovering Alabama, Sierra Water Sentinels, and the World Wildlife Fund.