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Alaska Wildlife Curriculum Now Available Online
The Alaska Wildlife Curriculum, developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is designed for teachers who wish to open their classroom doors and windows to the natural world. The curriculum teaches students in kindergarten through grade 12 ecological principles that lead to conservation of Alaska's wildlife and wild lands.
In the past, most Alaska teachers have attended a weekend-long training workshop to help them integrate the wildlife curriculum in their classrooms. But recently Sandi Sturm, an online learning designer with Creative Conservation in Wasilla, developed an e-Learning course that enables teachers in rural villages to participate in an AWC workshop without leaving their classrooms.
Teachers from all corners of the state interact during the course and share stories about how the activities work in their different environments. Karen Zane, a 7th and 8th grade teacher in Buckland, took the course in the spring and said she appreciated the wealth of knowledge provided by the guides.
“There are activities that cross many disciplines,” Zane said. “I plan on building a unit around some of the activities, especially those that will go along with my Alaska History class.”
The guides also include the Alaska State Standards Index. (The Alaska State Board of Education adopted content standards in the mid-1990s as voluntary guidelines for Alaska's schools.) Zane said this is very helpful and makes it easier for her to write lesson plans.
Zane was joined by 14 teachers from villages including St. Mary’s, Hoonah, and Bethel for the eight week e-Learning course. Using the Internet, CD-ROM, and communicating by telephone and e-mail, the teachers connected and explored ways to use AWC materials in their classrooms. They adapted content to their unique situations, and described correlations between activities and Alaska State Content Standards.
The teachers were able to examine key ecological concepts and the components of the three major ecosystems of Alaska: boreal forest, tundra and the coastal environment. An added benefit was that teachers in different parts of the state represented the three ecosystems and shared how the concepts relate to them in their own environment.
Robin Dublin, Fish and Game's Wildlife Education Coordinator, said this kind of distance learning is a relatively new teaching tool for the department to reach rural educators.
Zane’s 7th and 8th grade students completed an activity called "Caribou Migration," found in the Alaska’s Tundra & Wildlife section of the AWC guide.
“I rate my overall experience in relation to my current teaching goals as A+++++,” Zane said. “I did not really know what to expect when I first signed up for the class, but I was pleasantly surprised that the activities were so easy to use and to integrate into my curriculum. In fact, the murals that our classes made for the "Caribou Migration" game became one of my students’ favorite activities and it became a large part of this semester’s grade in my Alaska History class. The cooperation that my students had to participate in to complete this project was definitely worth the experience. We still have the murals hanging in our room and the students enjoy playing the game during free time.”
The e-Learning AWC workshop is currently only offered only to educators in rural regions on the state. Preference is given to two or more teachers from the same location so they may work together on projects. Traditional, in-person workshops are still offered in the more populated areas, and in communities with 15 or more educators.
The course is offered in the fall and spring. For more information, or to register for the e-Learning course, go to www.creative-conservation.com and open the Training page, or contact Sandi Sturm, at 907-373-7374 in Wasilla. For information on other ADF&G Wildlife Education teacher workshops and materials, contact Robin Dublin, Wildlife Education Coordinator at 907-267-2168. Learn more about the Alaska Wildlife Curriculum at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=curricula.awc
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