For Teachers


We are excited for your upcoming Estuary Chesapeake field trip at SERC!  This blog provides resources that will help you plan lessons as well as coordinate your trip logistics.  You can also communicate with SERC staff as you prepare.

What to do before your trip…

  • If this is your first trip to SERC, you are required to attend a teacher training workshop. At the workshop you will receive a copy of the Estuary Chesapeake Manual , as well as multiple classroom supplemental materials. Click here to be redirected to the list of upcoming Parent/Teacher Training Workshops. Contact Wendy Van Norden to sign up for a workshop date.
  • Make any and all administrative arrangements with your school, including transportation. (If this is your first time and this sounds totally overwhelming to you, SERC staff can help you figure out what needs to be done when you come to your training session. Also, try talking to any teachers at your school who have been to SERC before.)
  • If you will need/want help funding your trip, check out the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Target, and Donors Choose.
  • The most important thing to do is to become familiar with the five activity stations.  The sketched map below shows where each activity is conducted on our campus. Click on the map to access detailed information about each of the five activities that make up our Estuary Chesapeake Program. You can also use the Parent/Teacher Training Presentation to get the full scoop.
  • The next critical component of making this field trip successful is to have enough parent chaperones. You need parents willing to teach and lead each activity as well as parents to escort the students from one activity to the next and take the students on the hike. All parents should be trained to to the degree they feel at ease teaching one station. They can either register for a scheduled workshop at SERC, or attend a training session organized by you at your school using the Parent/Teacher Training Presentation (pdf) Parent/Teacher Training Presentation (ppt) provided. Once the system is finalized, we will announce how you can register. In the meantime, please contact Wendy Van Norden if you want to arrange a training session at SERC.

  • To facilitate the flow of students through each of the activity stations, SERC staff will develop a schedule for you and will make sure that all teachers and parents get a copy when you arrive.  A sample schedule for a group of 50-90 students is shown below.  For a group of this size, we typically create two smaller groups (#’s 1-5 and 6-10 in this example). Half the students will hike our history/nature trails while the other half completes the five Estuary Chesapeake activity stations; this takes roughly 2 hours and brings us to lunch on the schedule.  After lunch the two groups switch.  The students completing the Estuary Chesapeake stations in the afternoon are again divided into five groups to facilitate rotating through each of the five stations. We strongly recommend that you stick to a basic numbering system for your group designation.

For smaller groups, we may alter the schedule and the size of the groups but you can be sure that the SERC staff’s years of experience will ensure a schedule that provides the optimum learning experience for your students.

  • After your training session, familiarize yourself with the Estuary Chesapeake Manual
  • Use the Exploring the Chesapeake Workbook as a reference for more detailed information and help with lesson plans.
  • You can also find all of these documents in the Downloadable Documents page. You can instruct your chaperons to visit this page to download and print any information they need
  • Go through the resource packet of lesson plans given to you at your training session to prepare your students for their Estuary Chesapeake field trip. This packet is chock full of awesome activities to familiarize your students with concepts they will be tackling at SERC.
  • Your challenge is to work with your students so they can answer these questions before they arrive at SERC:

1) What is a watershed?

Prepare students with 3 or 4 facts about watersheds.

2) Why are oysters important to the Bay?

3) Why is the Chesapeake Bay estuary important to people, animals, and plants?

4) What is the importance of plankton in the food chain or pyramid?

5) In what ways do you and your community impact the health of the Bay?
Activity: What is your watershed address?

Depending on the size of your class(es) and what you talked about with Jane, finalize your numbers and split up your groups. To make it less confusing when the students get off the bus, make sure they know what groups they are in before they arrive.

  • Here are directions to the Reed Center at SERC. Share them with your chaperons and transportation. They are also available in the “For Parents” section, to ensure your chaperons are well informed.

What to do during your trip to SERC…..

  • Come right in! There will be SERC staff to greet you in the parking lot. The goal in the morning is to get started as quickly as possible. Here are some things you can do to expedite that process:
    • Have the students drop off their lunches, bags, coats, and any other belongings on the big brown tables in the middle of the hall as they pass through.
    • Go straight through the hall with the tables and go right out to the picnic tables for an introduction (follow the exit sign and turn right). There will be staff around the room helping to usher students in the right direction. We will all be excited to get started and a smooth transition from bus to the picnic table area will allow more time  for learning!
    • Reserve this time for emergency bathroom use only.
    • We will be pass out rotation schedules with up to date times for switching stations to all of the adults and our staff, so we are all on the same page.
  • After the introduction, the day is yours! All of the stations will be already set up for you. We will have staff at as many stations as we can to get you started on the first rotation, and then you take it from there! Let the schedule and the materials provided be  your guide to a great day in environmental education.

What to do after your trip……

  • Here at SERC Education, we love when scientists collaborate and share knowledge. Thanks to the diligent observations and investigations of your students, we have a record of the biotic and abiotic conditions of the Rhode River for the day you visited. We have archived all of your data, as well as the data from other schools that have visited. You can access this data all on the blog. If you are revisiting the blog within the same season you came to SERC, find the date range of when you visited on the toolbar, or by clicking the most recent season of data. If you are revisiting your data in a season after your field trip, check the “Past School Data” section and choose by season, and then by date range.
  • Give us your feedback! Comment on the blog or send us an email to tell us what you  think about your whole SERC experience. We appreciate your comments and use your feedback to improve our programs.
  • Visit the SERC Education website for more information about Estuary Chesapeake and other SERC programs.
  • Start planning next year’s trip!

3 thoughts on “For Teachers

  1. Pingback: Ready For Action | Estuary Chesapeake

  2. As a teacher, I appreciate your attractive, eye catching layout of your above Teacher Page and how it is presented in a B(Before)/D(During)/A(After) format. It is a well thought out plan and executed clearly with helpful links and resources. Before a visit to your Estuary, a group has the opportunity to be fully prepared. For teachers this is essential and for students this lowers anxieties that can sometimes accompany learning while they learn in an unknown environment. Educators always appreciate when prior access to trip information and it’s resources are made readily available; best when clearly informed and easily accessed such as this is page is. During a lesson it seems there are important and relevant hands on, connected learning. It is also important to see the work of others as a scientific point of comparison in the After. Thank you for posting that. There are ways to assess formally and informally. It is also clear to see how these lessons apply to our standards. It is also an important component to include feedback. It honors everyone’s good work. Thank you again for a well written resource that accompanies an amazing learning experience at SERC.

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