This past summer, sixteen educators from Michigan districts as diverse as Utica, in Macomb County, and St. Louis, a rural district in Gratiot County, participated in a week-long, intensive workshop at Central Michigan University’s Biological Station on Beaver Island, taking advantage of the island’s unique biodiversity to explore language arts, science, and the arts. As science and literacy teachers work to integrate the Next Generation Science Standards through interdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning, this kind of institute offers them a unique opportunity to explore, collaborate, and plan for the coming school year.
“The Beaver Island Institute is an incredibly immersive professional development experience that provides educators with creative strategies for blending literacy and science,” said Karyn McConachie, an 8th & 9th grade teacher from Eppler Junior High of Utica Community Schools. “The week provided us with much-needed time to collaborate with colleagues, so we can plan for classroom implementation of these strategies.”
Since 2016, a team of university and K-12 faculty have welcomed ELA and science teachers to this unique experience. In four years, a total of nearly 50 teachers have attended the Beaver Island Institute from districts across the state of Michigan. Throughout the week, they participate in field activities to promote discussion and collaboration as well as inquiry-based workshops to identify key standards from the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core Literacy Standards, and the ISTE technology standards. Originally funded by a grant to CMU from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, this year’s institute was supported through generous gifts from Thomas R. and Iris B. Harrison Foundation, the National Education Association Foundation, and the Macomb Intermediate School District. At a value of approximately $1000 per participant, all sixteen teachers were able to attend the institute at no cost. Continue reading