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Michigan Teacher Excellence Program Visits Lakeshore

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Date: June 15, 2011
Contact: Gregg Bruff, 906-387-2607, ext. 208

Michigan teachers visit Munising Falls.
Michigan Teacher Excellence program participants visit Munising Falls

(Munising, MICH.) What rocks are the Pictured Rocks cliffs made of? How can we identify the colorful pebbles that cover local beaches? What kinds of stories can they tell visitors and students about the "Big Ideas" of earth science that are illustrated here at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore?

These and other questions are being answered by four Grand Rapids teachers working for three weeks with Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Heritage Education staff to develop geologic curricula and other products for use by Lakeshore visitors and teachers across the country. The program is collaboration between the Lakeshore and the Michigan Teacher Excellence Program and Michigan Technological University. The program is a math – science partnership funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Bill Rose, geology professor at Michigan Tech, is assisting the teachers and park staff to develop content of the projects. The Earth Science Literacy principles or "Big Ideas" funded by the National Science Foundation help guide high quality teaching:

  1. Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
  2. Earth is 4.6 billion years old.
  3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
  4. Earth is continuously changing.
  5. Earth is a water planet.
  6. Life evolves on a dynamic Earth and continuously modifies Earth.
  7. Humans depend on Earth for resources.
  8. Natural hazards pose risks to humans.
  9. Humans significantly alter the earth.

The four teachers involved with the Lakeshore program are Todd Burd, Craig Winkler, Kathleen Clough, and Paul Slade, middle school teachers in the Grand Rapids school system. The Lakeshore teacher projects are the culmination of a three year program of course work and Field investigations on Michigan's unique and economically important geological resources.

"We are excited about having these outstanding teachers here at the Lakeshore as we develop ways to better interpret the rich geologic stories of the park," mentioned Gregg Bruff, Chief of Heritage Education.

The Michigan Teaching Excellence Program (MiTEP) is a multi-year program of teacher leadership development that empowers middle-grade science teachers to lead their schools and districts through the process of systematically improving science teaching and learning.

"The project uses Earth Systems Science content and inquiry-based instructional practices to emphasize themes that unite all sciences and mathematics," commented Ph. D. candidate and program director Erika Vye. "It is a powerful way to connect teachers with world class resources protected within units of the National Park Service. The park internships are an option in the MiTEP program; the fact that we have nearly 100 percent participation from our teacher cohort speaks volumes about the power and magnetism of National Parks as a place for learning and discovery."

Michigan Teaching Excellence Program includes both summer and academic-year components, and uses a variety of on-site, residential, field, distance, and in-service delivery methods. Components promote leadership skills, collaboration, place-based inquiry, access to cutting-edge data and materials, technology, engagement of diverse learners, study of key scientific concepts that cross disciplinary boundaries, pedagogical innovation.

For more information on the project, please visit http://mitep.mspnet.org/ and http://www.geo.mtu.edu/~raman/SilverI/MiTEP_ESI-2/Welcome.html

-NPS-

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