Watershed: An Integrated Learning Program for Seventh Grade
Ed Silcox and Mark Springer
WATERSHED is an Integrated Learning Program for Seventh Graders at the Radnor Middle School in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Mark Springer and Ed Silcox created the nationally and internationally recognized Watershed Program in 1987. Since then, Watershed has been a yearlong full-day program, which has replaced the traditional 7th-grade curriculum. Skills and concepts are integrated around the comprehensive study of a local watershed through a combination of classroom activities and site visits. A heterogeneous mix of twenty boys and twenty girls are admitted each year through a lottery process. Students are encouraged to gather, retain, interrelate, apply and communicate first-hand information about watersheds with special emphasis on what it means to live sustainably in the 21st century.
The ultimate goal of the Watershed Program is to foster a positive sense of self within each student to be a responsible member of a vibrant close community of learners who can enjoy and learn from each other and their teachers. Watershed students are encouraged to set goals, to take pride in their work and accomplishments as they accept both the academic as well as social challenges of middle school.
As the year comes to a close, students are asked to leave their personal footprint on the local/global community. Students conduct in-depth research projects on watershed-related topics and present their experiences and findings at various local, state, and community conferences and Open Houses. Watersheders often become fearless problem solvers, confident public speakers, solid writers, successful stewards, and informed citizens about land and water issues, climate change, and sustainable living.
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