A Place Based Approach
Our field biology program centers around place-based education. Place-based education takes concepts students are learning and moves them from the abstract world to the physical world. When learning about prairies, students can physically go out to our school prairie or when learning about forestry they can take a walk out to our school forest. It immerses students in environmental science concepts along with the history and culture of the area. This type of teaching is often cross curricular as it incorporates many different subject areas. Students become active participants in their learning and concepts become more approachable for students.
Incorporating Project Based Learning
The mission statement of the Highland School District states that we aspire "to be a challenging and exciting school district in which students achieve personal responsibility, social maturity, and academic success." Project Based Learning (PBL) is an approach to learning and teaching used throughout the elementary, middle, and high school that allows us the chance to address all of these areas, in addition to providing students with authentic learning activities. In PBL, students are presented with a driving question or a problem related to content being taught in the classroom that needs to be solved. Students then typically work in small groups to design a way to answer the question or solve the problem, presenting their findings at the end of the project. This approach in the classroom is incredibly valuable in that it gives students choice and ownership over their learning. Students have a chance to exercise their problem solving skills, collaboration skills, presentation skills, and so many more necessary life skills. Students are able to see the real world applications of content presented in the classroom and keeps them engaged and motivated.