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Nature-Based Early Learning Through the Project Approach is a Course

Nature-Based Early Learning Through the Project Approach

Ended Dec 13, 2019
3.0 credits

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Full course description

The value of young children’s direct experiences in nature through inquiry-based learning will be examined in this course.  It is designed for preschool and kindergarten teachers so they can develop their student’s in-depth thinking by engaging their hearts and minds through experiences on a nature topic. This will be accomplished while incorporating curriculum objectives in child-initiated ways.  Participants will learn about The Project Approach which is based on the work of Judy Harris Helm and Lilian G. Katz. This method seeks to build on children’s natural curiosity and enables them in interact, question, connect, problem-solve, communicate and reflect.  Teachers will follow the steps for implementing a nature-based project within their own classroom as they insure the needs of diverse learners are met for both social and academic learning.

Course Requirements:

There are 14 modules in this course that span over 16 weeks.  The timeframe for completing assignments in each module is two weeks, though each module time frame overlaps with the other.  So, for example, module 1 goes from weeks 1-2 and module 2 goes from weeks 2-3.  Module 2 starts half way through module 1.  

Course Materials:

There is one required textbook for this course: Young Investigators: The Project Approach in the Early Years Expanded-Third Edition by Judy Harris Helm & Lilian G. Katz.   

Sequence and Plan of Study:  The course is provided as an on-line class using both  synchronous and asynchronous meetings.  Participants are able to access the instruction materials and instructor for the asynchronous content at any time during the module week listed.  

Module 1 Children and Nature
1.1 Overview and Assignments 
1.2 Discussion: Nature-Deficit Disorder   
1.3 Neighborhood Nature Survey 
1.4 Video: The Child in Nature
1.5 Looking at the Canada Goose Project

Module 2 The What and Why of The Project Approach 
2.1 Overview and Assignments   
2.2 Discussion: Teacher-Planned Experiences vs. The Project Approach   
2.3 Slideshow: What is The Project Approach and Why Should We Use It?  
2.4 Project Timelines
2.5 A Child's Brain

Module 3 Selecting a Topic 
3.1 Overview and Assignments   
3.2 Discussion: Interests of Your Children   
3.3 Practical Considerations for Selecting a Topic   
3.4 Distance from Self Diagram
3.5 Video: Let's Reunite Children and Nature

Module 4 Solidifying Our Topic Selection  
4.1 Overview and Assignments   
4.2 Discussion: My Topic Selection Process   
4.3 Slideshow: Creating an Anticipatory Web on Ants  
4.4 Creating My Anticipatory Web   
4.5 Questions About My Topic

Module 5 Messing Around with the Topic  
5.1 Overview and Assignments   
5.2 Discussion: Providing Focusing Activities   
5.3 Types of Artifacts
5.4 Displaying the Linear Timeline   
5.5 My Focusing Activities 

Module 6 What We Know and What We Want to Know
6.1 Overview and Assignments
6.2 What We Know About the Topic
6.3 What We Want to Know About the Topic
6.4 Generating Investigations Based on Child Questions
6.5 Additional ECAP Resource

Module 7 Preparing for Investigation 
7.1 Overview and Assignments
7.2 Discussion: How We Are Learning
7.3 Slideshow: Preparing for Phase 2
7.4 My Preparations for Phase 2
7.5 Practicing Observational Drawings

Module 8 Investigation 
8.1 Overview and Assignments
8.2 Discussion: The Wisdom of Nature
8.3 Slideshow: Ants Investigations
8.4 Objectives Occurring and Documentation Displayed in Ant Project
8.5 Field Site Visits, Visiting Expert and Representations

Module 9 Doing Investigation #1 
9.1 Overview and Assignments
9.2 Discussion: Nature Connection Pyramid
9.3 My Actual Investigation #1

Module 10 Doing Investigation #2 
10.1 Overview and Assignments
10.2 Discussion: Progress for Collecting Documentation
10.3 My Actual Investigation #2

Module 11 Doing Investigation #3 
11.1 Overview and Assignments
11.2 Discussion: Progress for Meeting Curriculum Goals
11.3 My Actual Investigation #3

Module 12 Doing Investigation #4 
12.1 Overview and Assignments
12.2 Discussion: Progress on Field Site Visit and Visiting Experts
12.3 My Actual Investigation #4

Module 13 Concluding the Project 
13.1 Overview and Assignments
13.2 Discussion: My Project Timeline
13.3 Slideshows: Concluding the Project & The Water Project
13.4 Video Assignment: The Promise to Georgia's Children
13.5 Concluding My Project

Module 14 Reflecting on My Project 
14.1 Overview and Assignments
14.2 Project Work and Nature
14.3 Evaluating Engagement for My Project
14.4 "Yes, but" Thinking
14.5 Video: Rubik's Cube: A Question Waiting to be Answered


There will be 30 points in each module and most often there will be 10 possible points for a discussion and 10 possible points for each of two activities.  In module 9-12, there is a discussion worth 10 points and implementing/documenting for an actual investigation is worth 20 points.  Some activities, mainly slideshows or videos, don't have a point value.  They are short simple ways to prepare for assignments and provide added information.

Every module has a discussion except for two (module 6 and 14).  The discussions are mainly asynchronous (not existing together at the same time but within a given time-frame), but in modules 4, 8 and 12 there will be a synchronous discussion (occurring at the same time with participants together in a virtual meeting area called Zoom).  For each asynchronous discussions, students are required to provide an initial post and 2 responses to others' initial posts.  The initial post must happen in the first week of the 2-week module time-frame.  occur.  Two discussion responses are required.

** Attention: If you wish to use this course for licensure renewal credit, make sure to always check with your school district for approval prior to registering for the course.

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