Anza-Borrego Desert State Park PassPORTS Symposium

On November 13th, 2021, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in partnership with Parks California, the Anza-Borrego Foundation, and CUE hosted a PassPORTS teacher symposium at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitor center. Teachers from San Diego, Imperial, and Riverside counties came to explore the park, learn about resources available to them, and understand how they can bring the parks into their classrooms. Keep reading to learn more!

But how DO teachers bring parks into their classrooms?

With the help of Scott Shepherd, K-12 Access project coordinator for California State Parks, and passPORTS project manager Steve McGriff, teachers were equipped with new 5E lesson design templates.

Shepherd and McGriff sought to reimagine the school field trip through developing low-prep, customizable instructional design templates that empower teachers to plug and play park resources into their very own lessons. Rather than spending hours on google to find relevant articles, photos, and videos, passPORTS' curated instructional design templates make it easy for teachers to identify resources to support their student's learning whilst simultaneously tackling the CCSS and NGSS standards of their grade level. The 5E scaffolded lesson asks students to Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate their thinking on a given topic and supports experiential learning opportunities both in and outside the classroom, whether virtually or in person.

In addition to accessing these vast online resources, participating teachers have the opportunity to schedule blended-access field trip (virtual and in person) experiences with their students to Anza Borrego to foster a personal connection with our California's largest State Park!

Teachers attending the symposium were treated with two fun activities:

  1. Instructional Design

As previously stated, Teachers worked to develop curriculum focused on their students' experiences in, for, and about Anza Borrego Desert State Park. From art teachers to science teachers, teachers collaborated across grade levels and academic disciplines to reimagine their students' experiences in the park.

By empowering teachers to identify their own learning objectives, the symposium developed new resources, more relevant to their virtual and in-person classrooms than ever before. These new passPORTS instructional resources from Anza Borrego are now available to the public! Teacher Jennifer Landry from Coronado Unified School District said "these resources will impact the youth in my community because it makes nature and state parks accessible to all. No matter your mental or physical capability, no matter how it is you learn, you can feel like your right there in the state parks."

2. Nature Journaling!

Teachers explored the visitor center and the visitor center garden with the support of renowned author and naturalist John Muir Laws .

"Jack" modeled for teachers how nature journaling can support student-centered, self-directed exploration of natural, cutural, and historic phenomenon both in and outside the classroom.

Nature Journaling is something teachers can do when visiting Anza Borrego on a field trip or simply exploring their schoolyard. Today, hiking, nature journaling, and exploring the visitor center are all possible activities for students to experience when visiting the park. When coupled with PassPORTS instructional resources, students' have the opportunity to explore Anza Borrego like never before.

Interested in joining us for a Symposium?

This year, we'll be guiding K-12 teachers through Mount San Jacinto State Historic Park and the 2022 Spring CUE Conference. Don't miss out on the opportunity to reimagine the school field trip with us! Click here to register and learn more!

Posted: December 21, 2021

by Lydia Stinson, State Park Interpreter I at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Are you a teacher looking to connect with PORTS resources? Sign up for our mailing list here and check out our new PassPORTS instructional resources!

Are you a State Park staff member interested in hosting a teacher symposium at your park? Contact Scott Shepherd for more details.