There really isn’t a better summary of the EdLab Fall programs than a cold winter’s day field trip to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewood, Maryland. Reason being? One of EdLab’s teacher-partners, and a multi-year participant in EdLab programs is bringing her students there in the spring! Christine Comas and Gail Kennedy of Grace Episcopal Day School (GEDS) in Kensington, Maryland have worked with EdLab staff for two years now, working to connect classroom instruction with investigation of real world issues and community-based participation.
EdLab’s promotion of active learning is paying off in big ways. Christine’s mission draws SERC into the program, expanding the reach of active learning across the Smithsonian. Partnering with a few dedicated teachers is paying off as well, and two of EdLab’s teacher partners have not only conducted action-oriented lesson plans with their students, but also presented their experiences on the EdLab blog as well as in person at EdLab workshops. The number of teacher partners is also growing, since educators returning for additional workshops bring teaching colleagues with them.
Teacher partner Perrine Punwani from Hardy Middle School testing out her own mission in the “Get Schooled” workshop. Her project makes the popular novel, Hunger Games, action oriented and an investigation into the utopian, or rather dystopian, reality of living in the District. During the workshop's brief lunch break, she even interviewed the organizer of the local soup kitchen to discuss "homelessness" in the district. Amazing. And inspiring!
In fact, that brings up another cool feature of the program: workshop participants are requesting workshops in their schools so we can spread the EdLab word to as many teachers as possible. We’ve conducted two different in-school workshops, and the numbers is slated to jump in the spring. We might even have a partnership opportunity with a local middle school, conducting several in-school workshops for a dedicated, school-wide effort to make learning fun, relevant, and about the world around us. Partnering with a whole school means learning in new and innovative ways will not be isolated to a particular inspired teacher’s classroom but encouraged across the entire school.
EdLab workshops are growing and producing results. Spring promises great ideas, active student learning, inspired teaching, and most importantly, sharing these ideas with a big audience. Do stay tuned for updates!