|'The Tree of Life' bears fruit for professor, alumna, local teacher
RELEASED: March 20, 2003
DANVILLE, KYAs the list of required instructional content continues to grow for elementary school teachers, it becomes harder for teachers to cover all mandated material.
In an article titled "Tree of Life," three local educators recently teamed up to explain how one interdisciplinary lesson can encompass multiple requirements, saving instructors valuable classroom time.
The article was written by Centre Education Professor Donna M. Plummer, Centre alumna Skila King Brown, and Jeannie MacShara, primary literacy coach at Woodlawn Elementary in Danville. It was published in the March 2003 issue of Science and Children.
The article was based on a lesson Brown taught during her kindergarten/first grade student-teaching experience at Woodlawn Elementary during her senior year at Centre in 1999.
"If teachers use the interdisciplinary approach, they can touch on so much more of the required content," Plummer said.
"The Tree of Life" combines the literature of the children's book Tree of Life: The World of the African Baobab by Barbara Bash with a science lesson on concepts such as life cycles and the interdependence of plants and animals.
Science, social studies, vocabulary and art were among the subject areas covered by the lesson.
"The best aspect of the lesson is that the children were very engaged," Plummer said. "It exposed them to an environment they weren't familiar with."
Plummer was enabled to do the project after receiving Teagle Funds, research grant money for new faculty at Centre. She included MacShara on the project because MacShara was already using interdisciplinary methods in the classroom. Brown fulfilled her required student teaching while working on the project at Woodlawn Elementary.
The trio spent much of the 1998-99 school year researching the "Tree of Life" among several other interdisciplinary lessons.
Plummer was pleased to have been published in Science and Children, and she hopes the strategy presented in "The Tree of Life" will be implemented in more classrooms as a result.
Science and Children is the elementary-level journal of the National Science Teachers Association, with a circulation of more than 60,000.
Brown is a 1999 graduate of Centre with a degree in elementary education and a concentration in the social sciences.
Plummer is assistant professor of education at Centre College, where she has taught since 1996.
Plummer holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Texas Wesleyan University, a master's in biology, and a life teaching certificate for biology, physical science, and life/earth science from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a doctorate in science education from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
- end -
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422
Public Information Coordinator: Telephone 859-238-5714