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        Ecological field techniques courses for teachers are offered through montana State University, Department of Education. There are four separate courses, each corresponding to a specific season and each containing ten ecological field technique activities. Each course contains lessons focusing on practical skills which will be applied in further field studies. The lessons focus on five main themes; landscape, botany, zoology, water ecology and environmental monitoring. Some lessons are closely associated with the seasons and others are more universal.

 

Autumn Ecological Field Techniques Course

To Autumn Course Activity List

We consider the autumn field study course to be the first in the series. Practical skills emphasize orientation to the study areas and lessons focus on landscape, geology, soil and birds. These activities are the basis of future course work. The first two complex studies of ecosystem status included in this series are air pollution monitoring using lichens and assessment of human impact on an area.

Winter Ecological Field Techniques Course

To Winter Course Activity List

The winter field study course includes several typical winter investigations which take advantage of seasonal characteristics including low temperatures and snow. These include; mammal behavior based on snow tracks, snow strata study and chickadee territoriality. However, we have included some lessons which are more universal and lab oriented taking into consideration that outside studies can be more difficult in winter conditions. Lessons continue to develop and extend previous skills related to mapping.

Spring Ecological Field Techniques Course

To Spring Course Activity List

In the spring field study course there are several activities that are best suited to spring conditions; spring flower ecology, plant flowering, amphibians and vernal pools. We have included rock and mineral studies because samples are more obvious after spring run-off. Environmental monitoring includes success of young trees in a coniferous forest. Practical skills continue to be developed and applied to new studies.

Summer Ecological Field Techniques Course

To Summer Course Activity List

The summer field study course involves the most complex studies and relies more extensively on knowledge from previous studies. Many of these activities take advantage of summer conditions such as warmer water temperatures. Practical skills are applied to complex environmental monitoring lessons focusing on streams, rivers, grasslands and forests.

Course Structure

In each course there are extensive video and text materials, many opportunities for participants to interact with colleagues and student work is based on actually conducting field studies with students.

Materials for each ecological field technique course includes supplementary teacher and student information. Course materials include:
- 5-6 minute videos of teachers and students at Ecosystem Center for Field Studies completing each of the lessons tasks,
- associated teacher background information in English and Russian language text files and
- specially designed forms to assist students with recording data and reporting results.

 

Interactions in the ecological field study technique courses promote communication between teachers and students from different parts of the world. Course interactions include:
- weekly on-line discussions of teaching methodologies and the results of each ecological study,
- direct email within the course structure,
- on-line chats with other teachers and students involved in the course,
- informal exchange of cultural information as it relates to understanding different approaches to teaching and
- the exchange of electronic data and pictures of students and teachers working in the environment.

 

Student work in the ecological field technique courses focuses on the completion of the field studies and the exchange of ecological information between course participants. Student work in each course includes:
- the creation of a student home page to share information about you and your students with other participants in the course,
- weekly participation in course discussions,
- completion of a simple report for each ecological study completed,
- a final presentation for the other teachers and their students involved in the course and
- the completion of a simple survey at the beginning, middle and end of each course to provide feedback to the instructors about the course.

 

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