• Curecanti National Recreation Area


    National Recreation Area Colorado

Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Format

National Park Service Mission

...to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area Outreach Education is committed to: Creating an awareness and fostering an appreciation for the mission of the National Park Service and the natural, cultural, and historic resources of Curecanti National Recreation Area and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


Curriculum enhancing activities designed to complement national and state content standards across a variety of disciplines.

The following K-12 outreach education units have been revised and formalized using Madeline Hunter's "Instructional Theory into Practice" lesson plan format (Hunter, 1981). The rationale for this project was to develop comprehensive units that can be easily presented by education specialists of the National Park Service, professional educators, and environmental education specialists.

While this format offers a script for each unit, the script is not intended to be used verbatim. The script should be used as a guide in conjunction with an individual presentation style.

All units are preceded by an introduction from a National Park Service Education Specialist, addressing the mission of the National Park Service. Each unit culminates in an invitation to visit Curecanti National Recreation Area and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

The following lesson plan is a guide to the Madeline Hunter lesson plan format. In adopting the Madeline Hunter lesson format for outreach education, the "NPS focus," "Environmental concepts," "Environmental learning hierarchy," "References Cited," and "Related WWW Sites" were necessary additions.


Grade level:

Time length:

Subject areas: The majority of units address science, mathematics, geography, and social science. Many units offer interdisciplinary opportunities.

Teacher: In most cases this is a National Park Service Education Specialist.

Colorado Content Standards:


NPS focus: Public Law 39-535 (Organic Act).

Public Law 95-250 (Redwood National Park Expansion Act).

Vail Agenda Education Committee Report (Strategic Goal #2; Action Plan 16) and (Strategic Goal #3; Action Plan 52,62).

Curecanti and Black Canyon primary themes from the Annual Statement for Interpretation and Education.

Environmental concepts: The environmental concepts used in the units are based on six ecological principles that teach awareness of ecosystems through the conceptual approach (Ford, 1981). Units may contain one or more of the following ecological principles:

1. The sun is the source of all energy (energy flow).

2. Everything is connected to everything else (interrelationships).

3. Everything must fit how and where it lives (adaptations).

4. Everything is going somewhere (cycles).

5. Everything is becoming something else (change).

6. There is no free lunch (community).

Environmental learning hierarchy: The environmental learning hierarchy is based on the following teaching progression: Art forms, analogies, sensory awareness, ecological principles, problem-solving, decision-making, and ekistics, a philosophy for survival. The first three levels of the progression are for developing familiarity, stimulating interest, and building initial confidence in knowledge and skills related to an outdoor setting. The next four levels move from an acquisition of basic facts to utilization of the facts through problem-solving and decision making, to a way of life based on an ecological, holistic view of the world (Ford, 1981).

Materials: Unless otherwise noted, the list of materials is based on a class size of 25 students.


Objectives of the unit are stated in observable terms, according to the following major categories in the Cognitive Domain: Knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation (Bloom, 1956). The level within the cognitive domain should increase with advancing grades, helping students acquire skills in critical thinking and allowing for more inquiry-based applications. Since the time length of the units is relatively short, it is difficult to achieve accurate comprehensive assessments. Therefore, outcomes are measurable to some degree but not stated definitively. A unit will be considered successful if approximately 75 percent of the students meet the outcomes. In an effort to comply with Colorado State Content Standards, and to assist classroom teachers with meeting benchmarks, each unit address at least one science and one mathematic benchmark.


These statements or activities introduce the students to the unit and may provide students with an overview of what will follow.


Each unit's new material is taught using methods such as modeling, concept attainment, discussion, or through related activities. When the unit includes several activities that present new material, this section may also contain sections IV and V.


Student understanding is assessed through questioning, observation, or short activities. If students are not understanding the material, the unit should be adjusted as needed.


Students apply and practice the new material taught in section III under the guidance and monitoring of the unit instructor.


Students practice new material without guidance. Due to the nature and length of the units, this section is generally not appropriate within the unit time frame. However, pre-visit and post-visit activities of an independent nature are a component of each unit.


A summary statement, activity, book, or film may provide closure to the unit. The summary is followed by a final check for student understanding to assess the instructional outcomes of the unit.


The unit is evaluated internally and externally and appropriate revisions are implemented.


Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook I, Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc.

Ford, P. (1981). Principles and Practices of Outdoor/Environmental Education. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Hunter, M. (1982). Mastery Teaching. El Segundo, CA: TIP Publications.


Relevant Internet sites are identified to allow students and teachers opportunities for further exploration.

Did You Know?

Morrow Point Dam

Morrow Point Dam, found within the silent walls of the Black Canyon, was the first thin-arch, double curvature concrete dam built in the United States (completed in 1968).