A Cedaredge Middle School program that received funding help from the Arch Coal Foundation has expanded sixth grade students' educational and healthy living lifestyle horizons.
At the same time, Amanda Cerise's "Colorado Lifestyles" elective course has given students practice sharpening their academic skills by tapping into the Internet for specific information on how to plan projects and achieve their own life goals. Their studies took them into the areas of world geography, ecosystems, and regional cultures based on natural resources.
Her students used the multi-dimensional curriculum to deepen their science-based knowledge of the world around them and learned about the importance of tourism and recreation to the economies surrounding Grand Mesa and elsewhere in Colorado.
Cerise, a sixth grade language arts teacher at CMS, said she noticed many students seemed virtually unaware of the outdoor recreational world that exists in their own backyards. It appeared to Cerise that some were so involved with social media, texting and video gaming that they were completely underutilizing the outdoor resources all around them.
Cerise explained that the curriculum she developed included health and nutrition information and outdoor experiences.
"I wanted them to have a real life learning experience," she said. And her students got plenty of that.
They took nature walks and did rock climbing on the school gym's rock wall. They studied animal tracks, learned about survival skills, and took a fishing expedition to Confluence Lake in Delta.
Some 45 to 50 students have experienced the learning adventures over the two semesters the course was offered this past year.
Cerise applied for a grant through the Arch Coal Foundation for money to buy fly fishing gear used in course instruction. The grant was awarded from Arch Coal Foundation's "Innovative Teaching Grants" program. At the end of the second semester, the students provided a demonstration of the things they had learned in their unit. Some also displayed presentation skills as they reviewed what they had learned at a recap of the semester given for the DCI and for Sherri Braslin of Arch Coal.
Logan Bonacorsi of Arch Coal Foundation explained, "Students reported on their planning for their dream fishing trip, which had to include a trip plan, budget, an area map, packing list and day-by-day itinerary for their trip -- proving that fishing can be turned into a great learning experience,"
David Esquibel-Erickson gave a presentation on healthy ways to experience what the Colorado outdoors has to offer.
Dream vacation plans were presented by Megan Jenkins and Karlie Jade Hanson, Dylan Furubotten and Leila Morton. Each included great detail, including airline departure times, meal plans and costs, fishing destinations and type of sport fish being sought.
The skill of using the right knot to attach leader to line, and fly to leader was demonstrated by Lance Knutson and Jory Hoerr.
Two students -- Caleb Doyal and Bailey Nelson -- provided their insights in the rationale for the course, and Isabella Vasquez and Lucas Erickson presented a short video clip of the semester's activities and learning.
Bonacorsi of Arch Coal Foundation said in an e-mail, "In their outdoor education class, Cedaredge sixth graders have studied a fly-fishing unit designed to educate them on river ecology, hydrology and wildlife biology as they study the anatomy and health of a river and the creatures that inhabit it.
"Students have incorporated geography, reading, science and math throughout the unit as they learned about river recreation and aquatic science. The unit also included learning basic fly-fishing techniques, fish and insect identification, fly-tying, water safety and trip planning."