Monday, January 29, 2018

Honing Our Place-Based Education Skills

Participants prepare field trip activities during a rapid prototyping session.

Several years ago the Morristown education team began to dabble in teacher-led place based learning (PBL) projects. Recognizing a need for more teacher autonomy and an empowered learning space for students, we joined the Park for Every Classroom (PEC) initiative. PEC connects Park sites and partners with other programs in the northeast region to share best practices and model PBL and PBSL (place based service learning). The biggest impact for Morristown has been a transition from programming consisting of entirely staff-led offerings to the addition of teacher-staff co-led endeavors and most recently teacher-led field trip and workshops. Since we began, we have employed five master teachers through our Teacher-Ranger-Teacher (TRT) program who have helped us design our immersion activities, create exemplar lessons, and bring new teachers into the teacher-led PBL fold. 

Teacher demonstrates a lesson short.
Our current professional development model utilizes Design Thinking practices. Design Thinking methodology borrows collaborative brainstorming and planning tools from the design and engineering world. In short, Design Thinking is a methodology and mental framing strategy that encourages divergent (thinking big) and convergent (narrowing in) planning and moves ideas into actionable tasks. For our teacher partners it's also a way to to plan lessons in a rapid and collaborative environment. Teachers become familiar with Park resources and leave their workshop confident to utilize those resources independently and creatively.  

Interns 'ideate' or collaboratively brainstorm.

Readers may remember we reflected on design thinking last spring with our field trip programs:

Engaging Millennials? There's an App For That!

From Reese's to Results: The Prototyping Process

Morris Museum Collections Manager, Maria Ribaudo,
explores a gallery space.

This round's new recruits included area collections managers and Park sites, elementary and middle school teachers (in the past our Jockey Hollow site has been the primary location for this age group), and studio arts, language arts, and STEAM instructors. One exciting side effect of Design Thinking is how 
it enlivens our interdisciplinary

Edison National Historic Site Education Specialist, 
Carmen Panteleo, prototypes app use in the gallery.


Education assistant, Abby Parsons, demos a lesson concept.

Our ideation (collaborative brainstorming) session sticky wall.

Morristown teacher partners are certainly turning ideas  → 

Example rapid lesson prototype.

into plans of action →      

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