Distance Learning for the Birds

When ESD105 originally partnered with Pacific Education Institute and the Mount Rainier Institute to offer a professional development for secondary educators in June 2020, the idea was to take Yakima area workshop participants into the great outdoors and study the ways that fire can support healthy forest ecosystems. But when asked to pivot due to Covid-19, John Hayes spent hours collecting bird song data in the Pack Forest to share with teachers remotely as an example of a locally relevant phenomena-based lesson.

Bird song data sample from Pack Forest collected by John Hayes

Teachers were then able to use the hours of bird song and the accompanying metadata to build their own phenomena-based lessons for their 6-12 grade students. Physics, chemistry, biology and general science teachers were able to create ways to connect students with the data, encourage students to collect their own data at home, develop testable questions, and investigate phenomena via remote teaching and learning.

Teachers were introduced to new online educational tools in the combined format of synchronous work via Zoom and asynchronous work via Canvas. Participants shared that they appreciated the new tools and new ways of thinking about remote learning and putting data collection, investigations, and asking testable questions in the hands of students at home.

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