MDC to host Nature Unbound workshop for high school instructors in West Plains

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WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Ninth through twelfth grade teachers interested in building their knowledge and concept foundations of basic biology are invited to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Nature Unbound workshop set for 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on March 4 at the Ozark Regional Office in West Plains.

Nature Unbound is the high school-level ecology unit in the Discover Nature Schools (DNS) series from MDC.

Advance registration is required. Instructors may log in here for details. Attendees are also asked to please bring a lunch and dress for the outdoors.

“Supporting expectations from the Missouri Learning Standards (MLS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), emphasis of this unit is on student-centered and collaborative investigations of ecosystem dynamics, cycles of matter and energy transfer, interdependent relationships, and human impact on biodiversity,” said MDC Conservation Educator Sam Stewart.

The free one-day workshop introduces important facets of the DNS teacher guide and student materials including unit overview, organization of lessons and activities, assessments, correlation to the MLS and NGSS, and appendices. Outdoor field experiences, use of science notebooks, obtaining teacher and student materials are at no cost, and participation in the Nature Unbound grant program will also be covered.

A portion of the day will be held outdoors with an emphasis on field experiences, utilization of science notebooks for data collection, practice with science tools and resources, student management tips and techniques, and the development of a natural resource management plan as a culminating project.

To ensure the safety of all, in-person programs require family groups to socially distance, and masks are recommended. Those interested are also reminded to follow current health recommendations which include stay home if you’re sick, wash hands with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer, and be considerate of others.

Nature Unbound is a curriculum of nine lessons designed for ninth through twelfth grade students with engaging, hands-on outdoor learning that focuses on wildlife management, ecology, adaptations, populations, interactions, and biodiversity. The curriculum supports Missouri Learning Standards (MLS) in science, particularly life science. Summative assessments follow each unit.

The lessons culminate with a performance-based assessment for which students apply all knowledge and skills learned from the curriculum to create a Natural Resource Management Plan. For this plan, students must provide an overview of the area studied, status and goals of the area, strategies to improve the area, and an assessment plan. This section also includes rubrics for data sheets, checklists for notebook elements, student oral presentations, science writing, and experimental design.

Missouri teachers are entitled to receive student materials and other resources from MDC, preparing participants to teach the lessons and address concerns with structured outdoor activities. Participating teachers become certified to receive the DNS grant funding for classroom materials and field experiences.

Ozark Regional Office is at 551 Joe Jones Blvd. in West Plains.

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