Place-Based Learning in High School Science
Biology Class (9th
Our classes are on a block schedule. This means we meet Monday/Wednesday/Friday, then
Tuesday/Thursday, over a two week period, for a total of 5 classes in 2 weeks. For the reference of this lesson
plan, I will reference the dates as Day 1, Day 2, etc. to complete approximately 1 month of lessons. This would
be a realistic timeline for the projects and assignments as outlined, however, flexibility would be key, as some of
these things would be weather dependent, as well as school timeline dependent.
These lessons would not be a complete schedule for the day. There would be additional
activities/assignments/transitions during a 1.5 hour class period. For the purposes of the ED681 lesson plan
assignment, I will only include the portions of the lessons for which I am purposely framing place-based
Mapping Assignment (due 6th
lesson, about 2 weeks
Introduce Nature Journals
Go outside (back grass lake)
Introduce Fire Science
Introduce Collection (due 10th
lesson, about 3 weeks
Succession Field Trip (out to the dunes)
Revisit succession and fire science
Home Visits – fire safety (assessment)
Maps due – video tape presentations (assessment)
Nature Journals 2
Microscope samples back to class
Compare succession of Galena to home village
Microbes Samples – grass lake vs. Alexander Lake
vs. soil samples
Nature Journal – student site choice – walking
distance if time after test
(Maybe) Collections due – presentation
Mapping Your Place
Time Frame: 3 days – one for introduction, one for working in class, one for presentations
Mapping Place Rubric
11X14 white construction paper or poster paper
Colored pencils, markers, etc.
Objectives and Standards/GLEs:
1. Students will become more aware of their homes, and able to share those homes with others.
2. Students will create a map that illustrates their home place.
3. Students will share their maps on videotape, to be shown at an academic night, science fair or to the
elementary students (dependent on planning).
A. Explain, using examples, how progress is related to what is happening in society. SE1.1
B. Research a current problem, and identify possible solutions, then evaluate the impact. SE3.1
C. Describe the science of a subsistence activity. SF1.1-3.1
D. Analyse the competition for resources by various user groups. SF1.1-3.1
Day 1 (or 2) in the school year – about 45-50 minutes
1. Hang examples of Place Maps in the room for students to examine.
2. Hand out the rubric.
3. In small groups have students examine the example maps, finding the required parts from the rubric.
4. On paper, have students draw their village from memory.
a. Give students about 10 minutes to do this step.
b. This is rough draft 1, and will be used as a guide for what’s important to them, rather than what is
on the internet.
5. Have students look through Google Maps, images on the internet, call family, work with others from their
village, and begin creating the background for their map.
6. Students clean up once a rough draft is created.
Day 5 – approximately ½ of the period
1. Upon being provided supplies, computers and time, students will use 45 minutes to work on refining,
touching up and finishing their maps to be ready to present them the next class period.
Day 6 – approximately 45 minutes, although there is a potential for further time needed
1. Students will pair up or work in small groups.
2. With a smartphone, students will videotape each other, for at least 2 minutes.
3. Students will describe their map, and tell stories about their place.
4. Videos will be uploaded to my computer for editing and creation of a movie production.
Assessment: Students will be assessed according to the rubric.
Berg, P. (1995) Discovering your life-place: A first bioregional workbook. San Francisco, CA: Planet Drum
Carlson, J. (2014) Assignment rubric: Discovering your life place (Unpublished rubric). ED681 Place-based
Education: Distance Delivery UAF.
Assignment Rubric: Discovering Your Life Place
Discovering Your Life Place
1) “Discovering your life-place” by Peter Berg of Planet Drum is posted around the room to guide your map-making
2) Using construction paper, complete the following components to make your own watershed map.
1. Identify historical locations of indigenous peoples
2. Identify historical locations of “immigrant” peoples of last 150 years
3. Propose and identify housing or neighborhood(s)
4. Identify natural areas that are protected.
5. Identify human-made structures of community/ cultural importance to celebrate and protect
6. Identify current natural land corridors between natural areas
7. Identify current pedestrian corridors between human inhabited areas
8. Identify recreational areas of yours and others that life in your area
9. Identify the ways energy reaches your home
10. Local food production in your area or subsistence activities
11. What are your special or favorite spiritual places walking distance from your home?
12. Destructive practices in your area
13. Identify your travel corridor on your way to work or school. What do you see on the way? Plants, animals,
human-made landmarks. Signs of humans…
3) Classroom presentation of your map - VIDEOTAPED
Assignment Assessments (Total points for assignment: 10 pts)
Components (40%): Incorporates a minimum of 11 required components (2 required may be substituted for personal
Organization (40%): Though not necessarily a piece of art ready for the Louvre, map shows careful work put into its
construction. Shows good geographical detail and personal handicraft. Is not cut and paste from
Presentation (20%): Clearly articulates personal relationship with your local life place and your maps details.
Components (40% / 4 pts)
0-pts -Does Not Meet Expectation 3pts-Minimally meets expectation 4 pts- Strongly Meets Expectation
Fewer than 9 required components 9 - 11 required components 13 or more required components
Organization (40% / 4 pts)
0-pts -Does Not Meet Expectation 3-Minimally meets expectation 4- Strongly Meets Expectation
Map has little personal handicraft and
design put into project. Heavy use of “cut
and paste” and other’s art work. Map is
vague and relies on generalities to represent
Map has a fair amount of detail,
but lacks detail and refined effort.
Some “cut and paste incorporated.”
No “cut and paste utilized.” Plenty of
detail used and design brings area to
life showing both the geographical area
and personal relationship with place.
Presentation (20% / 2 pts)
0-Does Not Meet Expectation 1-Minimally meets expectation 2- Strongly Meets Expectation
Little verbal explanation of map presented.
Unclear explanations of map components.
Limited elaboration of map features given.
Fair verbal explanation of map
presented. Basic, but brief
explanations of map components
Excellent verbal explanation of map
presented. Detailed explanations of
map components. Colorful and personal
elaboration of map features given.
Total Score for Assignment:
Time Frame: Nature Journals shall be done at least once a month. Through the year, multiple forms of journals
shall be used. (I am currently developing this, and include it here to get started.)
Spiral notebook or composition book
Writing utensil of choice
Rubric, guide, depending on journal type
Objectives and Standards/GLEs:
1. Students will become more aware of the world around them.
2. Students will journal the world around them in a variety of ways, to narrate the world around them.
3. Students will explore the ecosystems in their place, and share them.
A. Explore ecological relationships, and analyze the potential impacts of changes within an ecosystem.
B. Ask questions, predict, observe, describe, measure, classify, make generalizations, analyze data, develop
models, infer and communicate in scientific methods. SA1.1
C. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a
single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences. W.RW.10[9-
Each journal day – about 45 minutes
1. Get organized with notebook and writing utensil, as well as daily prompt if necessary.
2. Walk to the proposed site for journal entry.
3. Sitting quietly in small groups or by themselves, students will spend 15-20 minutes observing and writing
4. At different times and in different ways, students will share their journals and writings.
Possible Nature Journal Prompts
1. After finding a place that makes sense to you, draw one image from what you see, either a close-up or an
image of the area. Following your drawing, write at least 200 words describing the area that you are
2. After finding a place that seems a new or different spot to observe, describe what your 5 senses are telling
you, as if you were explaining to someone who has never seen Alaska. Be sure and include many details so
the person who has never been here can compare the ecosystem to their own.
Students will create a cumulative journal of entries throughout the year. Through repeated attempts and practices,
students will be able to assess their own growth as the develop observational and writing skills.
Leslie, C.W. & Roth, C.E. (2003). Keeping a nature journal: Discover a whole new way of seeing the world around
ed). North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Tallmadge, J. (1996). Writing as a window into nature. In C.W. Leslie, J. Tallmadge & T Wessels (Authors), Into
the field: A guide to locally focused teaching (1-33). Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society.
US Fish and Wildlife Services and Smith, K.K. and McMurray, N.E. (2007). Fire in Alaska: K-12 curriculum guide
featuring role of fire in Alaska and fireworks curriculum (revised ed). Juneau, AK: Alaska Department of