"As a result of Cal Alive! institutes, I am making my teaching more interactive (less talking, more getting the students to interact with each other, with materials, and with nature)."
Our professional development courses were designed based on data from extensive teacher focus groups, up-to-date research on learning and teaching practices, and the California Institute for Biodiversity's experience in implementing the successful Cal Alive! - Exploring Biodiversity program, which has been used by more than 50,000 students in California. The data from these experiences led a comprehensive instructional design on which our programs are based. The components of this design include the use of multimedia; hands-on, standards based curriculum; exciting field experiences; and, in some courses, an investigative team project. Our professional development offerings also tap into the tremendous natural and cultural resources in California's State Parks, the East Bay Regional Park District, and the National Parks System.
Courses are divided into two categories: multi-day workshops and intensive institutes. Workshops prepare teachers to use a specific curriculum or specific skills while incorporating field experiences. Our most recent workshop has focused on cultivating field journaling skills that teachers can introduce to their students. Institutes offer a similar experience and also add intensive training in pedagogy, current science knowledge, and leadership skills with the goal of strengthen teaching skills in science and ecoliteracy. Recent institutes have provided teachers with the background knowledge and curricular activities necessary to instruct their students on the science behind and the challenges created from anthropogenic climate change. Both workshops and institutes strive to show teachers how they can get their students out of the classroom and into the field, experiencing nature first hand.