It’s easy to miss how much work teachers do outside of the classroom, planning with colleagues, developing their lessons and actives, grading, and keeping up with their own professional learning and development. One of the goals of the Half-Earth Project Educator Ambassador Program is to support the continuing education of teachers and to help them find ways to infuse biodiversity conservation concepts into their teaching. Toward these goals, we’ve developed materials and workshops that appeal to science and math, language arts, and social studies instructors. With the school year winding down or over, many teachers have begun their summer training and teaching.
The Immaculata School is an award-winning STEM-focused K-8 school in Durham, NC. They are affiliated with the Franciscan Parish of the same name, a majority Spanish-speaking congregation serving many new immigrants from Latin America. Dennis Liu, VP of Education kicked off an engagement with the faculty with a full-day workshop that focused on reading and mapping. The entire Immaculata faculty including Principal Patrick Kurz and STEM Director Karen Kingrea attended.
Participants studied passages from the graphic adaptation of E.O. Wilson’s memoir Naturalist, and Christian Cooper’s It’s a Bird, about the experiences of being a blackbirder. Modeling the work their students will do, educators interpreted and discussed passages, authored their own captions, and made drawings to complement the text. For the mapping component of the workshop, they worked in teams like their students would do, to identify areas in the US to protect in order to maximize biodiversity protection. The team dynamic is very important, and each team’s recommendations are a unique proposition for a Half-Earth future. Upon completing the hands-on design challenge, students and teachers, engage with the data offered on the Half-Earth Map.