Although Saturday, May 8, 2010 was a blustery day outside, Discovering Place teachers, community partners and parent liaison were calm and productive inside Ligon Outdoor Center during the Place-based Education Project Planning Day. Teachers from Beecher High School, Tucker Elementary, Dailey Elementary, and McMonagle Elementary were joined by community partners and representatives from the Stockton Center at Spring Grove, Six Rivers Regional Land Conservancy, For Mar Nature Center, Brian Willingham (author/photographer), Michigan Nature Association, Ruth Mott Foundation’s Applewood Estate, and Karate Ka Harvesting Earth Education Farm.
Discovering Place provides resources and support to K-12 students, teachers, school administrators, and community partners to come together and create positive change in Flint and the surrounding area. To support this type of education, Discovering Place offers sustained K-12 teacher professional development, facilitates school-community partnerships, and provides resources and support for place-based education activities. The goal of the May 8 Project Planning Day was to give structured time for networking between teachers and community partners, as well as allow time to plan for hands-on educational projects that will be implemented with students in the fall of 2010.
Brian Willingham, author and photographer, talks about his experiences community mapping with students.
The day started with a presentation and discussion led by Brian Willingham, Flint author and photographer, regarding his work on community mapping, photography and literacy with Flint students. Larry Casler from the Genesee Intermediate School District and Director of Ligon Outdoor Center then gave an overview of the resources available through Ligon, and despite the poor weather took everyone on a walking tour of the facility. Edna Stephens from Edco Publishing, Inc. gave a short presentation on place-based education and Michigan curriculum standards that served as an introduction for further curriculum discussion to be held later this summer. Additional time was spent on a “Speed Dating for Place-based Education” activity where teachers and community partners were given a short amount of time to discuss their interests and expertise in hopes of finding someone to partner with for an educational project. The rest of the time was given to work on creating project plans, as well as drafting concept maps and logic models that provided the basis for project plans.
Teachers, with the support of community partners, are now writing project plans to be submitted for funding through Discovering Place’s mini-grant fund. Proposed projects at this time include combinations of creating schoolyard fall vegetable gardens, indoor grow labs, community cookbooks, schoolyard beautification projects, habitat restoration, interpretive signage along nature trails, visits to urban farms and farmers markets, as well as many other fantastic opportunities. This is an exciting time for involved schools and community partners!