East Grand School's Natural Resource Emphasis

​​At East Grand, we have been working with pk-12 teachers to develop a vision for project/place-based learning with a focus on the natural resource assets of the area since 2017. Below is a snapshot of some of the amazing work of East Grand's faculty and staff:

The Elementary faculty and staff have been working on developing benchmarks and student outcomes for their Science and Social Studies programs so they can increase opportunities for community-based outdoor learning and interdisciplinary program design.  After mapping their current SS and Science topics, teachers began working on sequencing curricula for each grade-level, identifying key skills in Literacy, Math, Science and SS in one place to identify opportunities for integration.  

See the Unit Plan Template >>

The Middle School faculty and staff have developed an integrated program to support interdisciplinary place-based programming for students in grades 6-8.  Students rotate through content-focused, traditional courses and project weeks to expose students to different types of learning experiences.  During project weeks, students are deeply immersed in place-based learning that is connected to their content skill development and grounded in social-emotional learning guided by the Habits of Mind.  The first year of this innovative program was focused on Sense of and Appreciation for Place.  Students created a Field Guide (sample pages to the left) of the East Grand region which is on display at the local convenience store and area resorts.  Teachers have experienced particular success incorporating the Habits of Mind.  Here is what students say:    

 

Student #1 - “ I have worked at these habits of mind all year. I have improved at most of them. I want to tell you how I improved. In thinking interdependently...I used to not think in many circumstances that working in a team would help. Now I understand. In striving for accuracy Khan Academy helped. I started redoing tests automatically if I didn’t get 100. In listening to other I improved by starting to listen to the people in groups and it helped.”

 

Student #2 - “I have gotten a little better at striving for accuracy and finding humor. I have gotten a lot better with thinking interdependently. I am more comfortable with working in groups.”

 

Student #3 - “Managing impulsivity I was really bad at. So I worked on it during the school and I feel like I’ve got better. I think that the group activities helped me and showed me I can.”

 

Student #4 - “At the start of the school year I didn’t do any of them but now I have moved up on this list and I feel more accomplished than I did at the start of the school year.”

The High School faculty and staff have worked on refining their graduation standards and creating opportunities for students to explore post-secondary aspirations while still in high school.  The East Grand school offers many dual enrollment courses.  Of particular interest is their Natural Resource Pathway.  Students have the option of participating in a series of Outdoor Education courses that prepare them to sit for their Recreational Maine Guide license upon graduation.  This program is designed in collaboration with a local Maine Guide and students learn key outdoor skills from basic survival skills to whitewater canoeing.

Wilderness Upgrade is a grade 5-12 program that supports outdoor skill development through a student's Physical Education program and by integrating with and supporting grade-level content.  At the lower levels, students are eligible to earn a water bottle, and specific decals/stickers when they demonstrate proficiency in a particular outdoor skill, and as their proficiency deepens and they are able to teach others those skills, they are eligible to a backpack to showcase their badges of achievement.  The highest level of achievement is a Maine Guide shirt.  See sample decals and badges below:     

What Administrators and Teachers Have to Say

"Working with Rural Aspirations is like a sprinkle of magic...a breath of fresh air.  Over the last 4 years I have spend 100+ hours in various meetings with Korah and her staff.  She is up beat, organized, invested, and incredibly capable of putting educators at ease and connecting them effectively with their students, community, and administration....making education feel effective and relevant.  Connecting with Rural Aspirations has absolutely changed the course of our little rural school.  She makes us feel like we are a ball of fire...maybe we are!!"

                                                                                                                                 - Tammi Matula, K-12 Physical Education Teacher

"Rural Aspirations designs professional development specific to our district, school, grade level pods, and individual teacher needs. As a PK-12 administrator, I can always count on Rural Aspiration's professional development to provide the highest quality results that the staff will learn from and can use immediately."

                                                                                                                                - Margaret White, Principal/Superintendent

"Rural Aspirations came to our school to help us develop a plan to integrate the needs of our rural community with the educational goals of the school community. As a result, our school is thriving. Our students are able to choose alternate pathways to graduation, our community is an essential part of the school community, and our school has been able to handle the pivot of education brought on by the pandemic because of our focus on outdoor experiences and project based learning. Rural Aspirations has helped us focus our goals as educators, vertically align our curriculum and provided personalized professional development."

                                                                                                                        - Jennifer Fronczak, Middle-level Science/Math Teacher

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