Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2007 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Teacher professional community as a framework for studying SURGES, a school-based urban rural ecosystem study program
Honda, Sandra
Co-Authors: Sandra Honda, Janie Gordon, Alan Berkowitz, Janet Coffey, Terrence Grant,Deborah Kinder, and Shanmugavel Rajendran
Abstract: SURGES was proposed as a prototype program to engage high school teachers and their students in studying local and regional ecosystems and comparing and exchanging their findings with one another via the Internet. In addition, students would visit each others’ schools and study sites, and the year-long investigation would culminate in a joint scientific seminar. The project builds on the well-established approach of looking at ecological factors along an urban-to-rural gradient as documented in many BES studies. SURGES was presented during a July 2007 BES teacher professional development workshop in which teachers were engaged in doing studies in three schoolyards selected because of their location along the urban to rural gradient. Three Baltimore area teachers, strategically located across this gradient, self-identified as a group interested in implementing SURGES at their three schools. In this presentation, we describe the process of planning and the beginnings of implementation as the school year unfolds. Our findings indicate that in coming together to implement SURGES, these three teachers show characteristics of a "community of practice" as described in the literature, in which they not only share activities, information and resources across the domains of teaching, science, school and geographical community, but also begin developing tools and pedagogical approaches around curriculum and assessment.