Curriculum

Next Generation Science Standards and Environmental Literacy

About Our Curriculum

Each class focuses on at least one curriculum area. In class students focus on specific content and information such as understanding food chains, time lines, the process of succession, and community. Our classes offer important insight into concepts and information learned in the traditional educational setting. Students make connections between their field observations and years of classroom learning. The residential program, together with our curriculum, helps to form a cumulative learning experience where students are fully immersed in the outdoors, as they grow socially and academically.

At the Outdoor School we provide academic information and a positive experience in the outdoors. Classes are taught from a non-biased perspective. Our classes and residential experiences enhance the nature of our curriculum which is designed to improve thinking, strengthen citizenship, empower students to make informed decisions, and increase students' awareness of themselves and the surrounding environment.

Echo Hill Outdoor School lessons and activities support the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum.

Science and Ecology

Creating awareness about the natural environment was the School's original mission and remains the focus of many of its classes. Classes such as Sensory Exploration of the Environment, Swamp Canoe, and Survival take place in the field, forest, bay, beach, or swamp, and they provide opportunities for students to know the world of nature and science first hand. On Bay Studies, students can catch living organisms and piece together different parts of the food chain.

Science and Ecology classes focus on specific information about particular ecosystems, such as the effect of wetlands on the Bay's water quality. The classes also address broader environmental concepts such as natural succession, nutrient cycling, and adaptation. These classes promote students' environmental awareness, their understanding of scientific and ecological principles, and their insight into how humans interact with the environment. Hands-on experiences involve students, fuel their curiosity, and give them a concrete introduction to often abstract scientific ideas and procedures.

Activities

Activities on Science and Ecology classes involve students in the following types of exploration: examining water quality; sifting through bottom samples; using sense of touch on a nature walk through the forest; studying fish, insects, crustaceans, and other animals; making dyes from natural materials; planting in the garden; feeding barnyard animals; tending to a compost pile; participating in scavenger hunts on the beach; canoeing through the swamp; using a map and compass; and learning about night vision and the night sky.

Science and Ecology Classes Include

History and Human Environment

History is rich on Maryland's Eastern Shore and a valuable part of Echo Hill Outdoor School's curriculum. In close proximity to Echo Hill a variety of opportunities exist for students to explore folklore, traditions on the water, and ever-changing agricultural practices. Hands-on investigations, personal interviews, and creative critical thought provide exciting approaches to learning about history and society. Students make their own personal connections to the communities they are studying. These classes allow students to discover that history is about real people, ideas, events, and cultures-students develop a sense of value for history.

The Mystery Tour class exemplifies this curriculum area. Students venture into the surrounding community to explore locations such as buildings from early townships, a country auction, or colonial churchyards. Students are asked to uncover clues about the past, observe how humans affect and change the environment, examine the intricacies of the present designed environment, and ponder the future. Students often discover the importance of seemingly commonplace things and reexamine their perceptions about people, places, and the past.

Activities

Activities on these classes involve students in the following types of exploration: milking a cow at a family-owned dairy; digging for artifacts at a Native American site; working with clay or making stone tools; exploring local historic towns; and interviewing a diverse selection of people about their occupations and life in a rural community.

History and the Human Environment classes include

Individual and Group Development

Living and learning in the outdoors creates tremendous opportunities for personal and social growth. On all classes and in all aspects of residential life, Echo Hill teachers encourage students to pursue independence while recognizing the importance of the group. Teachers stress the importance of the following skills: working together on class; expressing opinions with confidence; listening to and respecting classmates' ideas; thinking creatively; having a positive attitude; and taking personal responsibility in the dining hall and tent areas.

Adventure classes are a major component of the Individual and Group Development curriculum. These classes take place on our Adventure Challenge course, which includes a variety of low and high elements. The adventure curriculum progresses from an initial focus on group dynamics to individual challenges. Low elements and problem solving initiatives such as Lily Pads, The Wall, and All Aboard improve communication, establish trust, explore team roles, and create self-awareness. High elements such as the Zip Line, Giant Swing, Pathfinder, and Alpine Tower focus on personal responsibility, accountability, self-confidence, and team support. Students take lessons learned from Echo Hill adventure classes and apply them anywhere: displaying patience and cooperation while at Echo Hill; reaching academic goals back at school; and setting positive examples for family at home.

At the foundation of the adventure curriculum is the maxim "Challenge by Choice." This provides a safe environment in which participants may express themselves, make choices, and pursue goals with support from their peers. Echo Hill instructors take responsibility to treat students with respect, care, and compassion, to ensure a safe experience, and to encourage positive interactions among participants.

Individual and Group Development classes include

Integrating Science Standards into EHOS Classes

A major focus in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is “phenomenon-based” learning. This means that a teacher would introduce a natural/scientific occurrence and then students would learn to ask questions about why this phenomenon is happening. The standards are then taught to answer the questions about the phenomenon.

Echo Hill Teachers focus on all of the natural phenomenon or “teachable moments” that occur here all the time. It is often difficult for a classroom teacher to plan or find a phenomenon that they will focus on because of the indoor classroom setting. If a standard focused on decomposition, for example, it would be really hard for a teacher to find a natural example of this in a well-manicured schoolyard. While at Echo Hill, all one needs to do is turn over a log and there is the phenomenon of decomposition! Echo Hill teachers take the time on class to get students to recognize these phenomenon and ask and answer questions about them.

General Notes Relative to the EHOS Experience

Elementary

  • Evaluate solutions to environmental problems.
  • Vocabulary Use: Atmosphere (air), Hydrosphere (water and water cycle), Biosphere (living things), Geosphere (Earth, rocks, land).
  • The “sphere” vocabulary is introduced in 5th grade, but after discussion, use of the sphere language may be possible with younger students as well.
  • Focus is on how organisms and their habitat make up a system in which all parts depend on each other to function. This is the definition of an ecosystem. Use of that term may begin with 3rd grade and above, but students may not be secure in the definition until Middle School.
  • Focus is on how matter moves through ecosystems (habitats in younger grades) and that plants convert that matter into food. Special emphasis is on the fact that nearly every animals' food can be traced back to a plant.
  • Focus is on how animals’ and plants’ body structures help them survive in their habitat. Adaptation is a term that may be used with 3rd grade and above-- though students may not be secure with that vocabulary until Middle School.
  • Emphasize is on cause and effect relationships when showing students specific traits of animals or plants. Example: a bush with larger than normal thorns is less likely to be eaten and will survive better than those with smaller thorns of the same species.
  • Focus is on how life cycles of plants and animals of different species are similar to each other.
  • "Sightings Lists" may be arranged by ecosystem rather than just a general list of all animals and plants.
  • For very young students (K - 2nd grade): As opportunity presents itself, discussion revolves around how animal parents respond to their babies’ needs to help them survive.
Middle
  • One of the main themes for middle school is the cycling of matter and flow of energy. This focus should be on the formula for photosynthesis and cellular respiration and how they work together as a cycle and the impact this has on various ecosystems.
  • Another main focus for middle school is how humans are impacting biodiversity. Using Echo Hill as an example of where there are many habitats with variation helps the students compare to other ecosystems where there may be more limitations.
  • Students are beginning to create claims and support with evidence. There are many opportunities to have these types of discussions during the Echo Hill experience.

High

  • Students at this level are challenged to draw connections between multiple concepts learned in lower grade levels.
  • One of the main differences between high school and the younger grade levels is the idea of using mathematical and computational representations to support scientific ideas and findings. Any data that can be presented to students for analysis (verbally, through models/diagrams, or by student collection) is useful.
  • Another big theme for high school is evaluating claims and evidence in science. It is important for students to understand that scientific findings are not set in stone, and are up for interpretation, debate, and advancements.
  • Students should gain an understanding of human impact upon various ecosystems, and will strive to formulate their own opinion about the severity of the impact and if/how it should be reduced. Focus should be around environmental, societal, human health, and political impacts and solutions.

EHOS Class Breakdown by NGSS Standards

Echo Hill Class

General NGSS Standard and Environmental Literacy Standards

Adventure 1 -

LSD: Information Processing

Adventure 2-

LSD:Information Processing,

PS2:Motion and Stability (Forces and Interactions)

Aquatic Studies

 

ESS3C:Human Impact on Earth Systems

ESS2: Earth’s Systems

LS1A: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes 

LS1C: Cycle of Energy and Matter in Organisms,

LS2: Ecosystems Dynamics

LS3: Variation of Traits

LS4: Biological Evolution

PS1: Chemical Reactions,

PS4 Wave Properties

Elit Standard 1,2,4, 5

Bay Studies

ESS3C:Human Impact on Earth Systems

ESS2- Earth’s Systems

LS1A: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes 

LS1C: Cycle of Energy and Matter in Organisms,

LS2: Ecosystems Dynamics

LS3: Variation of Traits

LS4: Biological Evolution

PS1 Chemical Reactions

PS4 Wave Properties

Elit Standard 1,2,4,5

EAS

ESS3A: Natural Resources,

ESS3C: Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems

ELit Standard 7,8

Farm Ecology

LS2B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems,

LS2C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning and Resilience, 

LS4D: Biodiversity and Humans, 

PS1B: Chemical Reactions,

ESS3: Earth and Human Activity

ELit Standard 6, 7,8

Garbology

ESS3C:Human Impact on Earth Systems

Elit Standard 1,5

Night Hike

ESSA: The Universe in the Stars, Earth’s Place in the Universe

LS4: Biological Evolution

ELit Standard 2,4

Opinions

ESS3C:Human Impact on Earth Systems,

LS2C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

ELit Standard 7, 8

Orienteering

ESS2: Earth’s Systems

SEE

LS1A: From Molecules to Organisms: Structure and Processes

LS1C: Cycle of Energy and Matter in Organisms

LS2A:Ecosystem Interactions

LS2D: Ecosystems Dynamics

LS3: Heredity, Inheritance and Variation in Traits

LS4: Biological Evolution

ESS2 -- Earth’s Systems

ESS3 -- Earth and Human Interactions

ELIT Standard 4,5

Seeds and Weeds

MS-ESS2.C: Water Cycle, ESS3: Earth and Human Activity

LS1C: Cycle of Energy and Matter in Organisms

LS2: Ecosystems Dynamics

LS3: Heredity, Inheritance and Variation in Traits

ELit Standard 2,4

SLOP

ESS3C:Human Impact on Earth Systems

LS1C: Cycle of Energy and Matter in Organisms

LS2: Ecosystems Dynamics

Elit Standard 3,4,5,7,8

Survival

LS1A: From Molecules to Organisms: Structure and Processes

LS1C: Cycle of Energy and Matter in Organisms

LS2: Ecosystems Dynamics, LS4: Biological Evolution

LS3: Heredity, Inheritance and Variation in Traits

ELit Standard 2,3,4,5

Swamp Studies

ESS3C:Human Impact on Earth Systems

ESS2- Earth’s Systems

LS1C: Cycle of Energy and Matter in Organisms,

LS2: Ecosystems Dynamics

LS3: Variation of Traits,

LS4: Biological Evolution

PS1 Chemical Reactions,

PS4 Wave Properties

Elit Standard 1,2,4,5

ELit and NGSS Alignment Detail

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