New Award for Royal Fireworks Press Curriculum
Each year the NAGC Curriculum Network selects up to six curriculum units as exemplars of best practice at different grade levels. Ferret It Out was recognized in the middle school category. To qualify for the award, curriculum units have to show clear evidence of advanced content, real-world or student-led investigation, variety in learning activities, authentic assessment, and alignment to national standards such as the Next Generation Science Standards.
Unit authors Shelagh Gallagher and Dana Plowden share this award with Dr. Anne Horak, who spearheaded the problem-based learning curriculum development project in the Fairfax County Public Schools under the direction of Dr. Carol Horn, the K-12 Coordinator of Advanced Academics for FCPS.
The black-footed ferret is the most endangered mammal in the US. In Ferret It Out, students take on the role of members of a recovery team whose job is to assess whether Fort Collins, Colorado, is an appropriate site to reintroduce ferrets that were bred in captivity. In the process they learn about biomes, habitats, human-animal interaction, and many other science concepts. The unit consists of a Teacher Manual (which also contains a list of downloadable resources) and a student Problem Log.
Dr. Gallagher narrates a PowerPoint slideshow about the unit in which she explains how, by working with a carefully constructed, ill-structured problem, students become self-directed problem solvers, with the teacher acting as coach.
Publisher Dr. T.M. Kemnitz says: “Ferret It Out is an innovative and and exceptional learning experience. We are delighted that it joins so many of our other PBL units in being accorded this recognition.”