For my curriculum design project in Place-Based Education this fall, I designed a curriculum that brought the teaching philosophies of the McCall Outdoor Science School back to the communities and homes of visiting students. The intent was to provide students with an experience that went beyond their time at MOSS, allowing them to experience place-based education (PBE) back in their own places. The curriculum includes a total of 10 lessons and activities that can be incorporated at school or at home. These lessons connect directly to the five themes schools can choose from while they are at MOSS, and each theme has a corresponding “pre-MOSS” and “post-MOSS” lesson. Thus, students are able to consider how their homes and communities fit into the understandings they gain while attending our program, creating a holistic experience for all involved. This fall I put the skills I learned in Place-Based Education into practice by developing a curriculum that brought the teaching philosophies of the McCall Outdoor Science School back to the communities and homes of visiting students. The intent was to provide students with an experience that went beyond their time at MOSS, allowing them to experience place-based education (PBE) back in their own places. The curriculum includes a total of 10 lessons and activities that meant to be incorporated at school or at home. These lessons connect directly to the five themes schools choose from while they are at MOSS, and each theme has a corresponding “pre-MOSS” and “post-MOSS” lesson. The goal is to create a holistic place-based experience for the students, allowing them to better connect what they learn at MOSS with their own communities.

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            While I had been teaching outdoor and environmental education for several years before coming to MOSS, I had never designed a curriculum before last fall. This project became an important skill-building opportunity for me, one in which I gained an understanding of how difficult it can be to create a curriculum that must take a variety of stakeholders into account. Designing lessons that I felt matched my own vision, while also being accessible enough for other educators to make use of, was a challenge.

            It became clear that the best way to develop the lessons within this curriculum was to make them adaptable to the unique needs of both teachers and students. Each lesson may be done as an activity at school or be given as an assignment to complete at home. Requiring little in the way of materials, the lessons can be lengthened or shortened as is appropriate for any given group. Finally, the lessons are intended to build on the activities the students participate in at MOSS, bringing the weekly theme full-circle to their own communities.

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            Understanding that this curriculum would never be utilized if it was not crafted to be reflective of the needs of teachers has been a vital lesson learned through the curriculum design project. As an environmental educator, it is easy to only see the needs of teachers and students through the lens of your own organization. However, this skewed perception minimizes the potential impact we are capable of as educators. Since working on this curriculum, I am more attuned to the unique context that surrounds each school and work to incorporate their known places and ecosystems into our MOSS-based lessons. I believe that working to expand environmental education experiences beyond the one-week program model is the future of this field, and my work in creating this curriculum has opened my mind to both the potential rewards and challenges of this effort.

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