Paper No. 23-2
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM-6:00 PM
EXPLORING AND ASSESSING K-12 WILDFIRE TEACHING METHODS AND CURRICULUM
Despite the increased size, frequency, and severity of catastrophic wildfires throughout the western USA, wildfire education is not widely taught in the K-12 school system. Climate change, and increased development in fire-prone areas, will increase the impacts of wildfires on communities; it is therefore important to have a well-educated society to understand, prepare for, and address the causes, consequences and solutions to wildfire and wildfire impacts. State and federal agencies have produced most of the K-12 wildfire curriculum, however there is still a gap in curriculum that connects wildfire and climate change. Additionally, many teachers express hesitations in teaching new and unfamiliar content. This study seeks to address these issues by 1) creating new lessons and 2) providing teacher training and in-class lesson demonstrations to test the effectiveness of various curricular units. The purpose of this study is to increase wildfire literacy in both teachers and students, as well as increase teacher’s confidence and willingness to implement this curriculum in their classrooms.
This study analyzed the effectiveness of a fourth grade-level wildfire education unit. We selected and taught four one-hour lessons for the unit in five elementary schools in southwest Idaho. Ongoing analysis of pre and post assessments will determine the effectiveness of the lessons. Pre and post unit surveys will measure teacher’s confidence and willingness to teach wildfire curriculum in their classrooms. The four lessons are a combination of two existing lessons from the Boise School District Integrated Fire Unit, a newly developed lesson, and a modified lesson from the Fireworks Educational Program. All four of the lessons are tied to the local context of Idaho and integrate place-based knowledge and ecosystems familiar to students.