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Choose Your Own Learning Adventure with a new PD opportunity through NNU!

Misha Smith, Boise

Teachers explore river health through a Project Wild workshop.


Teachers can now earn credit by creating their own professional development learning adventure through a new course listing through Northwest Nazarene University. The course is called Idaho Learning Adventures: Choose Your Own Path and requires educators to:


  • Participate in at least 3 different learning opportunities. 

  • Create a visual log documenting each of your adventures.

  • Create a plan to share what you have learned with your students.


Idaho is an amazing state. It is a great place for exploration and adventure. During this course teachers choose their own path to learn about exciting opportunities and educational resources available to educators. The final assignment will be for teachers to take what they have learned back to their classroom to enrich their students' learning with authentic Idaho experiences.


The best part about this opportunity is teachers can earn credit for what they are already doing for their students by providing authentic and place based learning opportunities throughout the state. Teachers can also get credit for just exploring these ideas on their own as well.  Here are a few ideas to get you started on your learning adventure!


Take classes or workshops


Teachers try out lessons and activities at an Idaho PLT workshop


Programs such as Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, or Project WET provide ready made lessons and materials that you can begin using right away in your classroom! These programs offer both for-credit classes that you could take independently, as well as shorter training opportunities that would count as one of your learning adventures for this course. For longer professional development opportunities, a Master Naturalist course is offered throughout the state, or you can become an Idaho Master Water Steward through the Idah20 program with the University of Idaho.  Other ideas include the Engaging Every Student Crayfish and Freshwater Ecosystem curriculum, The River Mile Crayfish Citizen Science Study, and the Wildlife and Water Habitats Curriculum.


Visit an Idaho State Park , National Park or local park in your community


Students participate in the City Nature Challenge by gathering data on plant and animal species in a Boise park


Idaho has many incredible park systems to choose from for excellent field trips and learning opportunities. If you are lucky enough to live near one of the National Park units in Idaho, there are often ranger-led talks and other education programs offered to support school trips. Or, take your students to a local community park that has a natural area or a pond and have them complete a bioblitz such as the City Nature Challenge. You can visit one of these parks on your own to preview as a potential field trip location, and have it count as one of your learning adventure opportunities!


Visit a museum, zoo, botanical garden, or nature center


Tours of local facilities such as The WaterShed can teach students about how their community works as well as connect them to their interactions with the water cycle.


There are many great field trip opportunities throughout the state where you can get a docent-led tour and lessons provided.  Places such as zoos, science centers, and museums can be easily accessible ways to enrich your curriculum. Outdoor spaces like gardens and nature centers get students learning outdoors about their local environment. One of your learning opportunities for this class could be to preview these spaces on your own to see if they would be a good fit for your curriculum. Many of these facilities also offer outreach lessons where staff will come teach a lesson to your students in your classroom. 


Invite a guest presenter into your classroom


Students learn about aquifers by completing the Edible Aquifer lesson with Idaho DEQ


As mentioned above, many local organizations offer guest teachers with lessons that are already aligned with state standards. You can also reach out to state agencies such as the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for classroom lessons or a presentation on a particular topic your students are interested in. There are also programs such as the Bird by Bird program which is a partnership between several state agencies that matches classrooms with local ornithologists to teach students about birds with monthly outreach lessons and field trip connections. 


Check out a teaching kit, trunks, or other teaching resources from local providers


Students explore keystone species with the wolf trunk from the MK Nature Center.


Many agencies have kits or trunks with lessons and materials that can be checked out for your use in your classroom. Project Learning Tree has many materials that can be borrowed to help with lessons from their books as well. 


Participate in a service project or do volunteer work


Students remove invasive species and install native plants in their adopted plot of land through the Boise River ReWild Project


Citizen science is an excellent way for students to learn about science while making a difference in their community.  Read our previous blog post on this subject for a list of local and national projects you and your students can participate in to help scientists collect data. You can also guide your students to create their own service project that improves their school, neighborhood, or community. You are encouraged to participate in volunteer work or citizen science projects on your own which would also count as learning adventure opportunities. 


A good place to start exploring ideas is to visit IdEEA’s Educator Resources Page which has links to different organizations throughout the state that can connect you with guest presenters, field trips and other learning resources. The examples in this post have been mostly science and environmental education focused, but it’s important to note that this course can be connected to any area of your curriculum. Projects can be language arts, math or history focused as well! Remember, what you are already doing (organizing field trips, taking other PD courses, and inviting guest presenters) may qualify as a learning adventure! 


Not sure if your project or idea will work? Ask yourself this: Does it help you and your students experience Idaho and enrich their learning? Then it counts! For all questions regarding course content, please contact the instructor, Laura Crawford, at: lcrawford@nnu.edu



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