Great Lessons to Teach about the Great Lakes
April 3, 2020
We all get it. Everyone has been thrust into the wide open west of online teaching and learning—all of us. You’ve been looking for resources and people have been sending them to you. Admittedly, there’s no shortage of resources for remote learning making the rounds these days.
From Alexa Skills to education companies offering free subscriptions to parents during school closures, figuring out how to teach remotely seems to have been addressed quickly by many organizations and individuals. But what about the what of teaching during remote learning times?
While some schools keep on pushing on with their existing curriculum, other schools don’t even have learning management systems set up to deliver remote instruction. That means that it can fall on parents, teachers, and students to figure out how to make up the difference.
For teachers and parents alike, finding ways to engage kids in learning from home (especially when you’re limited in leaving the premises) can be tough, especially when not all curriculum translates to remote learning lessons. If you’re a teacher or parent of children, particularly in the middle grades age group, you’ll know the feeling.
So, what’s a teacher (or home teacher) to do?
I have found that one of the most fascinating topics to study is the Great Lakes, because it connects to so many subject areas that it could be a learning experience the whole family will love. Being from Michigan, myself, that gave me an idea! Why not learn about the Great Lakes using free learning resources available from Detroit Public Television and PBS LearningMedia?
One way to do just that is to learn from an organization that’s put together some great FREE remote learning lessons: Great Lakes Now. And they’re partnering with NNSTOY to host a free Facebook Live webinar on April 8th all about their learning resources and lessons for classrooms.
Great Lakes Now is a monthly magazine-style show produced by Detroit Public Television and available on PBS affiliate stations around the Great Lakes. They cover news, science, and human interest topics dealing with the entire region in the U.S. and Canada. And they want to help you explore the Great Lakes through distance learning!
That’s why they’ve designed a collection of 28 (and counting) engaging STEAM lessons all about the Great Lakes, featuring content from Great Lakes Now and other public television sources, that engage students with the social studies and scientific exploration of the Great Lakes. Crafted for middle school learners, these lessons aim to introduce students to basic scientific and geographic concepts about the Great Lakes, as well as help them to explore the contemporary issues facing the waters in Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
The collection is divided into two sets, the first of which addresses the structure, function, and formation of the Great Lakes; the second focuses on the threats to the ecosystems from pollution, invasive species, and climate change. Each lesson includes an intuitive sequence of video clips, discussion, and hands-on activities to help students experience, participate, and connect with the learning.
The lessons can make for great interdisciplinary learning experiences, if you wanted to collaborate with a colleague to teach together. Plus there’s also a “virtual field trip” with videos exploring coastal wetlands. Check out all the resources here below:
- Collection 1: An Exploration of the Great Lakes
- Collection 2: An Exploration of THREATS to the Great Lakes
- Virtual Field Trips
From coastal flooding and commercial shipping to pollution and invasive species, it’s fascinating to learn about the world’s largest supply of surface freshwater from a variety of topical perspectives. Among the myriad great activities included in these lessons, you can engage your learners to:
- Recreate a freshwater oil spill and learn what it takes to clean it up
- Grow a “fatberg” and appreciate how our water infrastructure is threatened
- Model the formation of the Great Lakes from glaciers
- Learn about how vital groundwater accumulates and is used by citizens
With these blended-learning lessons, students will be able to interact with the content and each other through experiments, discussion, and simulations both online and face-to-face. These lessons are experiential, participatory, image-rich, and connected; or, as we prefer to say: EPIC!
That’s why we think you’ll love trying them out (at your own pace, of course) to get students wondering, noticing, thinking and doing. But be ready to see your students inspired. With these lessons, you won’t have to worry about what your students are learning or how they are learning—just that they are learning.
After all, since we have such Great Lakes, it just felt right to have great lessons about them, too!