The basic layout for a MOSS teaching week includes the following:
Monday: students arrive, introduction, team building
Tuesday: hydrology day*
Wednesday: terrestrial day*
Thursday: student led research project
Friday: closing program, students leave
*Half of the students will have terrestrial day on Tuesday, while the other students are participating in hydrology day, Wednesday, the students switch. All field instruction takes place in Ponderosa State Park (located within a 15-minute walk of the MOSS Field Campus).
Field instructors work with their students from 8:00 am until 8:30 pm. Some nights when field instructors are not in charge of evening programming, they may be done as early as 7:30 pm. Field instructors need to be available, however, until after the evening activity when chaperones take the students for the night.
Monday, teachers begin with a team meeting. Instructors work together to get field notebooks, nametags, and the classroom setup. Instructors usually meet at 10:00 am, break for lunch, and finish up by early afternoon. The students usually arrive around 1:00 pm. After students arrive, field instructors facilitate a few large group activities, and then break up into their teams. Each group develops a team contract and discusses their expectations for the week. The rest of the day is spent getting to know the students and teaching some of the basics of the MOSS curriculum including Earth System Science and the scientific method. Field instructors are expected to eat dinner in the dining hall with students. Following dinner, teams meet again, and then participate in an evening activity together.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the day starts bright and early with a 7:15 am team meeting. Field instructors meet together to go over scheduling for the day, as well as to discuss any student or chaperone issues that may have arisen. At 7:45 the chaperones will come in to discuss the day plan with you. At 8:00 am, field instructors meet with their students. Most of the day is spent in the field (9:00 am until 3:45 pm). Specific details of the MOSS schedule will be given during orientation.
The hydrology day content focuses on the watersheds. Students learn about the interactions between water and land, the water cycle, water quality measurements, and macro invertebrates. Teachers work with their students to build understanding through questioning rather than traditional lectures. Students have the opportunity to see the McCall area and gain an understanding of its watershed. Macroscopes, water chemistry kits, pH paper and other scientific tools are used to facilitate the learning process. On terrestrial day, students are provided with an opportunity to learn the basics of terrestrial ecosystems. Students learn to identify signs of succession, native and nonnative species, and forestry management practices. Using a matchstick forest, students are also able to explore fire behavior and the impacts of forest management.
For research day, field instructors help their students develop a project using the scientific method and science process skills. The research project is completed in Ponderosa State Park. Topics vary depending on the student’s interests. Some examples include: what types of fuels burn best, how does water temperature affect levels of dissolved oxygen, how does tree density vary between managed and unmanaged forests.
Friday, students present their research projects, complete a final evaluation and head home by 10:30 am. After the students leave, members of the teaching and academic teams clean up the MOSS campus in preparation for the next teaching week. Following lunch, all of the MOSS field instructors and staff participate in a weekly debriefing which includes highs and lows of the week, what could be improved, and other issues that arose during the week. Debriefing usually lasts around two hours, but field instructors are expected to be available until the meeting is finished on Friday. In past years, teachers have really enjoyed the opportunity to reflect each week with their fellow teachers.
The basic format for a teaching week is the same for all five weeks. Teachers generally try new activities to improve their lessons each week, but the content remains the same. Students are excited about being able to spend time learning outside and participate in
team building activities. Teaching at MOSS is an unforgettable experience.