Tall Timbers Teacher Education Resources

Why is Tall Timbers working with teachers?
The Red Hills region of Southwest Georgia and North Florida is part of a biodiversity hotspot, home to a significant portion of the native longleaf pine forests remaining in the United States, and the birthplace of fire ecology. Tall Timbers is committed to preserving and protecting the rural lands and natural resources in the Red Hills. As part of a long-term strategy for building public support for our conservation mission, we are working with teachers in the Red Hills to continue to increase educational opportunities that help students understand what a special area they live in and the land stewardship it takes to preserve it.

Tallahassee Democrat article about Tall Timbers first field day for educators.

How did you get started?
In 2016 Tall Timbers hosted our first “Red Hills Ecology 101” field day for educators to help increase teacher knowledge about the region and the ecological research Tall Timbers is conducting. The field day was well received.  However, teacher feedback noted the large obstacle of taking new content into the classroom without a more cohesive plan for engaging students and aligning the content with teaching standards.

In 2017 Tall Timbers received a grant from the Archibald Foundation to hire two teachers for a short period over the summer to work with us on more formalized lesson plans that will aid in our goal of bringing local ecology into local classrooms. Brian McClain and Allie Hawkins, accomplished high school and middle school science teachers, worked with us during the summer of 2017 to develop the following lesson plans. We will compete for future grant opportunities to continue this effort, with the goal of developing several lesson plans that cover the major conservation topics in our region.

What education resources are available now?

In the fall of 2017 we began delivery of the first two lesson plans with workshops in Tallahassee and Thomasville and our second field day for educators hosted at Tall Timbers. Information and downloads for the two lesson plans follow, along with a set of educational videos developed by the Florida State University Learning Systems Institute with Tall Timbers in 2017, and a 2016 episode of Local Routes by WFSU Public Media, funded by Tall Timbers.

Local teachers Allie Hawkins (left) and Brian McClain (right) pose with Outreach & Education Coordinator Brian Wiebler (center) and the ten-day-old quail chicks they helped capture, band, and collect measurements on for a quail research project.

  • Red Hills Food Web Lesson Plan
    This 1-2 class period lesson includes a food web activity using local species and is intended as a straightforward substitute for textbook food webs. The idea is to help engage students by highlighting the interesting species in our region. They learn what they need to about food webs and explore local ecology.
    »Opening video with highlighted species.mp4. We recommend playing this short video on a large screen in the classroom as students arrive for class to engage them and get them talking about the species they see.
    »Student Worksheet.PDF. The 2-page worksheet provides students with all of the information for the food web activity and the analysis questions.
    »Teacher Guide.PDF. The 4-page teacher guide provides implementation notes, extension and discussion ideas, assessment items, standards alignment, and a completed version of the food web and analysis questions.
  • Fire Frequency & Biodiversity Lesson Plan
    This 2-3 class period lesson includes a Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) activity that allows students to explore the relationship between fire and biodiversity in the longleaf pine ecosystem.
    »Opening video by WFSU Public Media.mp4. This 6-minute video provides students an introduction to the history of land conservation in the Red Hills and the role of fire in the longleaf pine ecosystem.
    »Student Worksheet.PDF. The 2-page worksheet provides the activity description, background information, and data to use in the CER activity.
    »Student Activity Sheet.PDF. The single 8.5 x 14 activity sheet provides organization for writing down answers during the CER activity.
    »Species Cards.PDF. The 10 species cards and 2 topic cards are an engaging way for students to learn about local ecology and gather evidence to support their claim. Each card is ¼ of an 8.5 x 11 page. Double sided printing will result in three pages that can be cut into quarters to yield 12 cards. Each group will need one set of cards. A limited supply of a card stock version is available free from Tall Timbers. Contact bwiebler@talltimbers.org
    »Teacher Guide.PDF. The 6-page teacher guide provides implementation notes, extension and discussion ideas, standards alignment, and a completed version of the CER activity sheet, and a rubric for scoring the writing activity.
  • Florida State University Learning Systems Institute videos with Tall Timbers
    Each of following videos are about seven minutes long and can be used as background information for educators interested in addressing these topics in a class, or to help introduce the topic to students. The videos were produced as a cooperative project between the FSU Learning Systems Institute and Tall Timbers as tools to help share research topics addressed at Tall timbers with the education community.

»Tree ring research and applications for land management.

»Role of fire in the carbon cycle in fire-dependent ecosystems

»How technology can be used to aid fire behavior research in fire-dependent ecosystems

»Sampling method for estimating the density of dead trees in a forest ecosystem

»Cross-fostering as a research method for evaluating behavioral traits in birds