Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2013 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

What supports and constrains effective environmental science teaching in and about the Baltimore ecosystem?
Berkowitz, Alan
Co-Authors: Alan R. Berkowitz, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Bess Caplan, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Angelita Alvarado, City University of New York Molly Charnes, Academy of International Studies, Woodburn, OR Sarah Haines, Towson University

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) is both studying the role that education plays in the resilience and adaptive capacity of the metropolis, and working to enhance that capacity by fostering environmental science literacy among K-12 students and their teachers. In our research with dozens of middle and high school science teachers in Baltimore City and County over the past 5 years, we are describing the key practices that comprise effective teaching. Our methods include teacher surveys, reflective writing prompts, portfolios, interviews and classroom observations. Our research is elucidating the elegant, place- and context-specific blend of knowledge, skills and attitudes that teachers draw upon when implementing these practices. Our studies also reveal ways that the professional development we provide teachers supports their use of these practices, while also identifying vexing challenges that often thwart teachers’ best intentions in practice. Implications for the role that the K-12 system can play in the resilience of the Baltimore urban ecosystem will be discussed.