Life Science Units for Remote Learning
The summer of 2020 was full of uncertainty for teachers, students, and nonprofit organizations. It quickly be came apparent that field trips and other programs traditionally offered by museums and nature centers would not be possible. Informal educators across northern New Mexico came together to meet community needs in a variety of ways. As a member of the Santa Fe Outdoor Education Collaborative (SFOEC), I worked together with other informal educators and classroom teachers to create a set of eight lessons to guide 3rd grade teachers and students through life science curriculum. These lessons were posted for free on Canvas, the online learning portal used by the Santa Fe Public Schools, as well as Google Classroom and Seesaw.
- Neighborhood habitat mapping
- Botanical illustration activities
- Nature scavenger hunts
- Seed dissection and more
In addition to the Canvas unit that was shared for free online, SFOEC offered a week of training to teachers through Zoom. This focused on how to engage students in an online setting as well as specific lesson plans to engage students.
The professional development opportunity focused on teachers as experts in their field. It was co-taught by a veteran 3rd grade teacher. Participants shared what they had learned over the past months as they prepared for the new realities of teaching, in addition to being provided with materials and resources to make the transition to the new school year easier. Each lesson included an introductory set of slides, supplementary videos, student handouts, and assessments to ascertain student learning.
This set of lessons is an example of the importance of including teachers in the process of curriculum design. By involving them from the beginning by asking, “What do you need?” and “How can the resources and expertise we have be useful to you?”, the result is exponentially more powerful. Download the curriculum from Canvas for free here.