On April 14, 2015 PAST joined with Fairfield County ESC partners to share their Growing SOIL and FAST programs, both funded with Ohio Straight A Grants.Presenting to the audience of educators and administrators were: Ketal Patel, PAST Ass’t Director of Programs; Dr. Herb Broda, Ashland University; Liz Henwood, Ass’t Principal at Rushville MS; and Ellen Cahill, Grants Mgr. and Marie Ward, Supt., Fairfield County ESC.
Through Growing SOIL, a PAST Foundation program, schools and districts work with PAST program leaders to design and build outdoor innovation learning labs for students and teachers. Ms. Patel shared that the learning labs offer teachers the opportunity to create culturally relevant social change in education. As part of the program, all teachers will experience PAST provided PD that teaches them the principles of transdisciplinary problem-based learning (TPBL). TPBL allows teachers to collaborate on curriculum, using their outdoor learning lab to engage students in real-world problem solving.
During the presentation the presenters all shared examples of outstanding work begin done at the school level by teacher led design teams who are creating outdoor learning labs that all teachers can use to bring education outdoors. Through Growing SOIL, schools and districts work with PAST program leaders to design and build outdoor innovation learning labs for students and teachers.
“This is not an add-on,” said Dr. Broda. “You can integrate outdoor learning labs into teaching by changing both venue and content. You can extend indoor living to the outdoors. One teacher was working on teaching the concept of bar graphs. Students worked indoors on the principles then went out doors to create a “living bar graph.” They actually laid down to show the graph. Tell me those students won’t remember more and be able to better apply what the learned.”
Ms. Henwood showed slides of the design plan for the Fairfield Union district, a rural district. The district design team includes teachers from elementary, middle and high schools.
“This is about teachers reaching out to teachers to find out what they need in order for our outdoor learning lab to be successful,” said Ms. Henwood. She emphasized that teachers from all disciplines – language arts, social studies, math and sciences – are developing plans to use the learning lab to enhance their curriculum and meet state standards.