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LearningWhy Lesson Collaboration: Creating a Better Way to Learn

May 1, 2017 - Posted in Education by Bette Jamison
Screen shot from LearningWhy home page

ETV is building a new website to house innovative lessons for tomorrow’s graduate. LearningWhy hosts complete standards-based lessons for one-to-one technology environments and is funded by the South Carolina K-12 Technology Initiative. The complete site, to be released in fall 2017, will include cross-curricular activities, lesson progressions, assessment, and all the media and content links needed for teaching to standards. But the site already houses exciting project-based learning lessons created in partnership! Visit LearningWhy at: 

The project-based and one-on-one lessons are being produced by SCETV and qualified partners, including higher education institutions, State Department of Education, and local district personnel.

In partnership, ETV Education is working with The College of Charleston and Charleston County School District (CCSD) to collaborate with the Catesby Commemorative Trust, using the brilliant work of Mark Catesby, an 18thcentury English naturalist and artist who studied and documented wildlife in South Carolina. Through this successful partnership, education professors and teachers are working to develop relevant lesson plans and resources that intrigue students through Catesby’s South Carolina connection and encourage their creativity. 

The concept of project-based learning involves transition from teachers simply delivering content to students to teachers becoming facilitators of student-driven learning. Using The Curious Mister Catesby: A “Truly” Ingenious” Naturalist Explores New Worlds, as well as, material from Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands as primary source teaching materials, College of Charleston professors working with CCSD designed inquiry-based lessons plans that were pilot tested in elementary and middle grades.

At the elementary level, art-based lesson plans were used to introduce students to perspective, patterns and meaning, and zooming. The middle grades science lesson plans were combined to form a project-based learning unit that lasted eight days. These lessons included hands-on activities, analysis of primary documents, and creating a scientist’s notebook. In addition, social studies teachers wrote Catesby lesson plans that focused on explorers and trade from the early 18th century and a lesson plan that used Catesby material in a dance class was also developed!

Over the last few months, these lesson plans have been successfully implemented with CCSD students. Students were engaged and used their awareness of the world and their skills to investigate problems and design solutions from the stories of Mark Catesby’s natural history of the New World, depicting the flora, fauna and animals for the Royal Society of London. Lesson outcomes can also be viewed at


This collection of project-based, inquiry-based lesson plans is available now in ETV’s LearningWhy

South Carolina educators may access them immediately and they are also being made available nationally in PBS LearningMedia.

The valuable partnership including CofC, CCSD, The Catesby Commemorative Trust, and SCETV has created a better way for students to learn and teachers to teach using the Catesby materials. ETV invites SC teachers to explore now and look forward to more as we continue to develop this exciting, FREE resource for South Carolina PreK-12 educators!


About Catesby

In 1722, Mark Catesby, an English artist and naturalist, visited the American wilderness. For four years, he explored the natural world of the southeast colonies and the Bahamas. He returned to England and spent the next 20 years writing, engraving, coloring, and publishing his Natural History of Carolina, Florida & the Bahamas. The Curious Mister Catesby documentary looks at his life and his impact on the study of plants and animals in the context of their habitats.


About PBS LearningMedia

PBS LearningMedia offers teachers more than 100,000 videos, images, interactives, lesson plans and articles drawn from critically acclaimed PBS programs and from expert content contributors like The National Archives and NASA. Educators in South Carolina are invited to sign up for this free service at



South Carolina ETV is the state's public educational broadcasting network.  Using television, radio and the web, ETV's mission is to enrich lives by educating children, informing and connecting citizens, celebrating our culture and environment and instilling the joy of learning.  ETV provides content to classrooms via internet services, LearningWhy, StreamlineSC and PBS LearningMedia.  SCETV also provides teacher training and recertification in face-to-face and online settings.  Visit

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