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For Place-Based Earth Science Learning Opportunities, There's No 'Place' Like Home


The Michigan Institute for Teacher Excellence Program (MiTEP) is a NSF funded Math-Science Partnership program that targets Earth science teachers in the Michigan cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Jackson, some of whom are teaching out-of-field or have been affected by layoffs and/or involuntary transfers. Now in its third year, this five-year program will provide three cohorts of 12-24 teachers with three years of training. Teachers spend two summers assimilating Earth science content knowledge through field experiences, including one week in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and one week near their home district in the Lower Peninsula. The third year of training provides teachers with a 3-week capstone internship at a regional National Park.

Throughout the 3-year suite of activities, faculty from Michigan Technological University, Grand Valley State University, and Western Michigan University provide content expertise and curriculum support for the K-12 teachers while graduate students from Michigan Tech provide "just in time" school year support through quarterly pedagogical content in-service days, promotion of leadership initiatives, and coordination of a "scientists-on-call" offering. An over-arching MiTEP aim is to encourage and assist educators to inspire and motivate a cadre of young citizen-scientists to view Earth science concepts happening in their own backyards through a local lens.

The focus of this talk will be to provide examples of "home-cooked" MiTEP-developed learning strategies and activities designed to allow teachers to emphasize local opportunities for content-rich Earth science learning in their classrooms while helping to ameliorate obstacles such as school district funding/travel constraints, teacher rotation, and teachers' Earth science content inadequacy.