Published on May 1st, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


District Five teacher earns national award for “Best Lesson Plan”

Pictured Lake Murray Elementary School teacher Danielle Hance.

IRMO – A Lexington-Richland School District Five elementary school teacher has earned a national award for a lesson plan using real-world issues to spark students’ interest in geography.

Lake Murray Elementary School Teacher Danielle Hance has been awarded this year’s Best Lesson Plan for 2015 by the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE). Hance and lesson plan co-authorUniversity of South Carolina geography professor Jerry Mitchell will be recognized August 8 during the National Conference on Geography Education in Washington, D.C.

“As educators, we challenge ourselves continuously to make classroom lessons relevant and meaningful to our students,” said Lake Murray Elementary School Principal Claire Thompson. “Ms. Hance has done that with her award-winning lesson plan, covering geography, math and issues that are important to both students and adults. We are so proud of her award and grateful for the rich lessons she has provided the students here at Lake Murray Elementary School.”

Entitled “Map Skills, Ocean Currents, Pollution, and …A Rubber Duck?,” the lesson plan began with a reading of Eric Carle’s “10 Little Rubber Ducks,” which tells the true story of a shipment of thousands of rubber ducks and other bathtub toys that fell overboard and washed up on shores all around the world. The students were charged with tracking the ducks’ journey in the open sea through the use of math, maps and lessons on longitude and latitude.

“Students also learned to see the world in a different way,” said Hance, a fifth grade teacher. “We studied the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where marine debris is concentrated after riding on ocean currents. We also studied how those concentrated pieces of plastic and debris in the north Pacific can be ingested by turtles, birds and other animals and block the sunlight needed by plankton and algae…So, what started as a reading about rubber ducks became classroom lessons that were real to the students. They were able to see themselves in the world differently and gain a real appreciation for math, science and geography.”

Hance and Mitchell have presented the lesson plan at several statewide conferences, Mitchell said. They will be among several educators nationwide honored on August 8 by NCGE, which will also present awards for Women in Geographic Education, Distinguished Teachers for K-12 and Higher Education, and Best Geographic articles.

“This award is the outcome of the important relationships built by the South Carolina Geographic Alliance between classroom teachers and university faculty,” Mitchell said. “Ms. Hance and I were able to work cooperatively to create an interactive lesson that utilized geography to engage students in math, science, and literature. The lesson had students use all their skills to focus on a real problem facing our world. That’s what good geography does.”




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