Teachers’ “Watershed” Experiences at Longwood University

Longwood University’s Institute for Teaching through Technology and Innovative Practices (ITTIP) hosted Virginia’s cohort two of Teaching Environmental Sustainability – Model My Watershed (TES-MMW). TES-MMW is a partnership with  Concord Consortium Stroud Water Research Center, Millersville University, and five states (California, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Virginia). From July 19 -21, 2016, 17 teachers from across Virginia met for three days of professional development at Longwood University to learn about the year-long experience.  The program was presented by ITTIP’s director, Dr. Paula Leach, and STEM specialist, Stephanie Playton. Guests speakers included Carolyn Staudt from Concord Consortium, as well as virtual guests from Millersville University and Stroud Water Research Center.IMG_0246

During the three day workshop, teachers gained experience in using an online portal with environmental education learning modules focused on watersheds.  These modules are able to be customized by teachers throughout the school year in odder to meet each participant’s teaching and student learning needs.  As part of the workshop, teachers were immersed as  “students” while exploring and examining Longwood University’s campus while using a “tracker” connected via Bluetooth device.  One participant explained, “I would tell a colleague that this is a remarkable program that will certainly help the students gain a great deal of knowledge about a watershed and conservation!”   “I think my students would learn a lot with the software as well as the sensors,” remarked another participant.

As part of the participation, teachers received 5 sensor tags to be used in conjunction with watershed simulations built into the learning modules.  Throughout the school year, teachers will be engaged in learning through in two online classes (one in the fall and one in the spring) with the four other states in the project.  By the end of the school year, participating teachers will have customized their activities and used them with their own classrooms to provide students with a unique learning experience related to watershed education.