The students began the year by learning about Falcons and DDT in Language Arts. In Science they learned about ecology and watersheds in Durango. All areas of study were underneath the umbrella of human and environment interaction. To conclude their learning, experts came in to discuss 4 areas of human-environment conflict in Durango: bears, mining pollution, snow pollution, and invasive species. We had experts from BearSmart Durango, Mountain Studies Institute, and The Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies speak with the students and provide background knowledge on these topics of conflict in Durango. The students then began a focused study on one topic. Each student proposed a question that they set out to find an answer to. The questions might be: What can we do to stop bear death's in Durango? They then needed to research to gather background information on the conflict, and find research-based solutions to answer their problem/question. Students then wrote public service announcements to help inform the public on what they can do to help mitigate these problems in Durango. Learning that went into this project included all of the background knowledge about Durango ecosystems, vocabulary around ecosystems and watersheds in Durango, and extensive looking at example public service announcements. The students verbally presented their public service announcements at the Celebration of Learning at Escalante Middle School to a live audience, after having had their PSAs on display to inform the public at the Welcome Center in Durango.
This whole project was an expedition. We are an EL Education school model, and this year long multi-disciplinary project is what EL Education is all about. The aim to have students focused on authentic problems that are relevant to the world around them while teaching them the skills needed for their grade level. All the while doing this across content areas, brining in the arts, authentic audiences, and teaching about craftsmanship and responsibility. Our students shined when put to this task this year, and we couldn't be more proud of their hard work and perseverance throughout the expedition.
Nice work, Escalante!