About The BIG Lesson

The BIG Lesson was initiated in 1999 by Margaret Holtschlag, Michigan Teacher of the Year 1999-2000 as (1) a professional development model for immersion learning; (2) a study trip for students, parents, and teachers, and; (3) a partnership between community resources and mid-Michigan schools. BIG Lesson programs are happening at community sites in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Dryden, Marshall, Ann Arbor, and Battle Creek, Michigan.

In the BIG Lesson model, students, teachers, and parents use community resources (museums, zoos, nature centers) as their classroom for a week. Changing the concept of the traditional field trip to a week-long interdisciplinary study trip, this experience includes investigations, behind-the-scenes tours, presentations by community experts, and groups of students working cooperatively on research. Parents are actively involved in the learning activities as well as student service projects. Culminations of the week are service learning activities, research projects, and community action plans.

Teachers receive extensive training in The BIG Lesson model to learn about integrated curriculum, lesson design, place-based education, cooperative research, scientific inquiry and content, visual note-taking, thematic instruction, and identification of community resources. Teachers continue this professional development throughout the school year with workshops and online discussions to share resources and lesson plans.

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