The stream in their backyard
Science Teacher Gretchen Mann – bringing back elementary excited-ness to 12th graders.
Gretchen Mann, a science teacher at Queen Anne’s High School, resides in Chestertown, MD with her husband and two children. This is her eighth year at QAHS, where she teaches Biology and Environmental Science classes at the Advanced Placement level. Previously in her twelve-year teaching career, Mrs. Mann worked in Pennsylvania for four years. She loves teaching AP classes, for which special summertime training is required, and says that she’s found a niche for upper level students to have hands-on learning experiences.
Since completing CES’s interdisciplinary Rivers to Bay (R2B) Professional Development Program in its inaugural year in 2012, Mrs. Mann has been finding creative ways to incorporate experiential learning into her curriculum and is excited to participate in R2B’s new initiatives. She has done a lot with the Build a Buoy challenge, where students learn how to design and build a basic observation buoy that collects data, including taking her students to the nearby elementary school to lead the program for 5th graders every year. This both reinforces what her students have learned and allows more students to engage the material. Mrs. Mann’s students also conduct a stream study where they test the water quality four times a year. She says the study integrates “the whole idea of R2B- connecting kids to the Bay” by getting them thinking about how the stream in their backyard is part of a larger watershed. They also get practice collecting data and compare their findings to the online buoy data, provided by CRWO.
Mrs. Mann stresses the scalability of R2B curriculum as one of its most powerful assets. She explains that students love hands-on activities and that something as simple as Build a Buoy can be scaled up or down in rigorousness to be used from the elementary to the high school level. In addition to scalability, she says that R2B curriculum is easily incorporated in her current curriculum meaning that she doesn’t have to wait until after testing to include it in her lesson plans. “The material aligns very well to NGSS standards and it is easy to see how [R2B’s] lesson plans connect to that. [CRWO] has done a nice job of ensuring that teaches don’t have to do anything extra, which is good because it is hard for us to find the time,” says Mann. Regarding the new modules R2B will be pursing, Mrs. Mann is really looking forward to working on and incorporating new ideas into her classroom because it “brings back elementary excited-ness to 12th graders.”
“Environmental literacy is everyone’s responsibility.”
Her advice to teachers who have not participated in R2B: “Environmental literacy is everyone’s responsibility. Do the program, it’s awesome. There are real world applications that can be used in every area and it is refreshing to do a workshop during the school year. It gets you out of your routine and gives you new ideas and materials to incorporate in your classroom.”
Teacher Profile- Gretchen Mann
Written By: Kirstin Webb, CRWO Intern