Garden helps teachers dig deep for curriculum ideas

EDUCATORS from the Dubbo School of Distance Education took a leaf out of the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden as a way to prepare for next year's curriculum.

About 120 teachers and staff were spread out at Dubbo's popular garden attraction recently, as part of their professional development program.

The staff members learnt how the gardens could support educational programs in 2013.

Dubbo City Council and the Dubbo Field Naturalist and Conservation Society co-ordinated the program, which saw six groups of educators attend 'seminars' at the Sensory Gardens, the Bio-Diversity Gardens, the Shoyoen Gardens and the yet-to-be-developed Oasis Valley.

Chief organiser and council's manager of horticultural services Ian McAlister said the botanic garden had much to offer educational institutions.

"The program has been organised to help teachers re-write their programs to take into account the new Australian curriculum, which encourages much more local community involvement," he said.

"They will also have the opportunity to learn about council's sustainability projects, its engagement with Japan and China, the educational resources at the Western Plains Cultural Centre, and the work of the Dubbo Field Naturalist and Conservation Society."

He said the Oasis Valley could be completed in the early months of 2013 with Dubbo City Council and Destination NSW working towards a February date.

DSDE deputy principal Debbie Murray said 2013 would be a planning year for the school and, with the help of Dubbo City Council, planned ahead for the new national curriculum.

"We want to utilise the local community and bring our students here next year," she said.

"The teachers have had a few activity ideas for the kids in this garden space, and have collated information to put on a big list of things to do next year."

Three new cross-curriculum priorities, she said, were incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories and history, sustainability and Australia's engagement with Asia.

Karen Hagan of the Dubbo Field Naturalist and Conservation Society said the six stations would help support teachers and help prepare them for the new curriculum.

"An activity could include students dipping four water bugs into the water and keep all the information they find," she said.

"The Dubbo Regional Botanic Gardens is a developing garden and the fauna will change, and it's our job to monitor the changes and pass that information down to students."

anthony.cini@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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