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A Change for the Better

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 10/30/2017 More stories >>

for Change curricula are place based, outdoor, immersive, and experiential.

Teaching for Change curricula are place based, outdoor, immersive, and experiential.

It’s been said that we don’t inherit the land from our parents; we borrow it from our children. And there’s no doubt that it’s being returned in worse shape than when we borrowed it. So it’s only right that we give the next generation the tools needed to help them face the challenges they will encounter when addressing natural resource management in a changing world.

Helping students to gain these tools by teaching them about global change—climate change, invasive species, and land-use change—in the context of natural resource management is the goal of the Teaching Change program established by Creighton Litton and Catherine Spina, both in the department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, and their partners the US Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, US Fish and Wildlife Service Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, and the Friends of Hakalau Forest.

Teaching Change combines a youth-education program in natural resource management that is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, and a teacher-education and curriculum-development component that provides secondary school science and Career and Technical Education teachers from Hawai‘i with the background and knowledge to develop and implement curricula to teach core STEM concepts.

The curricula for both students and teachers are place based, outdoor, immersive, and experiential, including overnight field trips with activities centered around phenology, or the timing of life cycle events, of native trees and other culturally important plants and wildlife. The teacher-education component includes peer-to-peer mentoring on curriculum development and implementation. A recent three-day teacher-training workshop held at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry brought together 22 teachers from O‘ahu and the Big Island, including Master Ecoliteracy Teachers trained for peer-delivery of Teaching Change curricula. In September the participating teachers will give presentations on the curricula they have developed to get their students outside and engaged.

We may not have been the best stewards of the land we’ve borrowed, but the Teaching Change program offers the opportunity for our children to be more mindful of the land they in turn will be borrowing from future generations, and better equipped with ways to translate that awareness into positive and meaningful change.

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