Thursday, August 18, 2016

More Teachers on the Trail in Harpers Ferry!

August 4-5, 2016

This August, ATC , the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office, and Shepherd University teamed up to offer a new kind of professional development workshop for teachers in Harpers Ferry, WV.

(Click here for ALL the photos!)

Inspired by collaborative  Park for Every Classroom workshops in National Parks across the northeast, this model was a bit different from the traditional Trail To Every Classroom workshop series.

The workshop was just 2 days, with an ambitiously full agenda designed to introduce local teachers to resources and potential partners right in their area--while building a foundation of knowledge about place based service learning and sharing resources to use the Trail as a living classroom.

The participants were 23 upper elementary and middle school teachers from Jefferson County, WV and Loudoun County, VA. Just about every discipline was represented--from History, Civics and Social Studies to Art, Math, and English. How could one short workshop offer something for everyone?

Here's how: by showcasing the incredible wealth of natural, cultural and historic resources the Harpers Ferry area has to offer!

Each day started with a morning on the Trail, with 2 groups hiking a loop and stopping along the way for interactive educational stations. Afternoons were spent indoors, hiding out from the heat while sharing ideas and learning about the A.T., hike leadership, place based service learning, and local partners in conservation. There was also time for teachers to start developing a curriculum concept, and share it with their peers and the workshop leaders for feedback.

Thursday's hike traveled through historic lower town Harpers Ferry, with five stations along the A.T. and blue-blazed connector trails. Ranger Stan McGee of Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, dressed in the uniform of a union soldier, gave a talk about the Civil War history of Harpers Ferry on Camp Hill. Ranger David Fox, also of the National Historic Park, told the spellbinding tale of John Brown's raid right in the engine house building he captured.

Diving into pre-history, geologist Mike O'Donnell of Lord Fairfax Community College gave a presentation on geology and geography right at "The Point"--with the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and the bluffs above the rivers as a spectacular backdrop.

Park Service Archaeologist Mia Parsons gave a tour of the ruins of early industry and daily life on Virginius Island, and ATC's Northern Resource Management Coordinator Marian Orlousky shared a range of lesson plans and service learning opportunities related to the study of natural resources on the A.T., such as invasive species and phenology monitoring.

Friday morning started with a short drive to Gathland State Park in Maryland, with another loop hike --this time showcasing lessons and activities that can be used almost anywhere on the Trail to teach a range of subjects.

Matt Graves, Program Manager for Interpretation, Education, and Outreach on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, led a number of interactive games designed to teach key concepts in studying ecosystems--'Oh Deer' and the circle lap sit were a big hit. ATC Education and Outreach Coordinator Kathryn Herndon led a "Hip Pocket Activity", Poesy Poetry, which produced some excellent poems and a lot of ideas among both groups of teachers.

Amanda Lane of the A.T. Park Office led a Leave No Trace activity to explore personal ethics (What Bugs You The Most), and Hope Midock, also of the A.T. Park Office, shared several math activities related to the Trail with her multicolored A.T. rope serving as an excellent visual aide.

Both on the Trail and in the Mather Training Center, the energy level among this vibrant group of educators was through the roof. We can't wait to hear how they incorporate the A.T. and place based service learning into their lessons this year.

There are some lucky students in Jefferson and Loudoun Counties this year! But Harpers Ferry isn't the only place on the Trail with a lot to offer educators--not by a long shot. ATC, with Park Service support, hopes to offer more locally-based professional development workshops for teachers in other school districts in 2017. Stay tuned to this blog for details!

North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald