SARANAC LAKE Sometimes the best lessons can come from observing ones surroundings. The Adirondack Curriculum Project seeks to help teachers bring the Adirondacks into the classroom by offerings two free teacher workshops this summer. ACP committee member Sanda Hildreth explained while there are some fine teachers in the Adirondack region that make an effort to introduce their students to the natural or human history, art, literature, politics, or economics of the area, a large percentage of children grow up without learning about their local environment. We've all experienced this - our own backyard is often less exciting than other places, exotic or not. Tourists come from all over to experience the Adirondacks, yet a lot of children don't learn about the hiking, paddling, and skiing opportunities here, said Hildreth. The Adirondack Curriculum Project workshops are designed to help teachers find a way to incorporate learning about the Adirondacks into their own, specific curriculums. Hildreth said in contemporary educational writing stresses the significance of place. Children often learn better when the subject matter or activity is directly related to something they already have a connection to - the place where they live, said Hildreth. The New York Geography Alliance is partnering with ACP to offer a four-day workshop on Adirondack Geography, July 22 - 25, at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. This will be a hands-on, field experience based workshop and teachers will develop curriculum materials to use in their own classrooms. Stipends will be available to teachers who actually use their lesson plans and share the results with the ACP. It is open to all subject areas and all grade levels with preference given to Adirondack region educators. Meals and lodging is included at no cost. The second free teacher workshop is on Biodiversity and will be held at the Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb, on Aug. 4 6. This will also include outdoor activities and the opportunity to develop classroom materials. Meals and lodging is included at no cost. Teachers attending the lessons arent expected to add Adirondack lessons or activities rather, theyre encouraged to find a topic they already teach and add an Adirondack angle to the instruction. We know all too well how full their schedules are and how important it is for their students to do well on the state standardized exams, said Hildreth. For example, Hildreth explained, at a certain grade level children learn about how animals adapt to their habitats - animals adapt all over the world, but the examples used could be for animals that live in this region. In math classes, students could learn how to calculate the height of a tree and the number of board feet of lumber that would come from it and learn how important the logging industry is to the Adirondacks. When language arts students need to write a persuasive essay, they could be given a current topic in their community or region - should the state pay taxes on state-owned land - and have the opportunity to learn more about how these activities directly affect their lives and those of their community members. Details and registration forms for both workshops are available on the ACP web site adkcurriculumproject.org and teachers are urged to sign up early in order to reserve a space. In-service credit may also be available. The ACP web site has also been recently redesigned and reorganized. It has links to a variety of Adirondack related resources and is useful for both students and teachers. There are nearly 100 Adirondack Challenges lesson plans that address Adirondack topics, available for teachers to use freely. They all address New York State Learning Standards and focus on student-centered, hands-on activities. Teachers are welcome to submit and share their own lesson plans as well. A book of lesson plans designed by Adirondack teachers who participated in a workshop jointly sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture/U.S. Forest Service, Paul Smiths College, and the ACP is also available. Bringing the Northern Forest to Your Classroom contains 20 lesson plans that were expanded to address the entire northern forest region. They cover topics such as Why Do Leaves Change Color to water quality issues, Chronic Wasting Disease and whitetail deer, story-telling, and the art and literature of the region. Books are available at no cost from the U.S. Forest Service publications Web site at nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/3558. For more information on the Adirondack Curriculum Project, visit the web site at: adkcurriculumproject.org or contact Hildreth, ACP Workshop Committee, 891-1388 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Adirondack Curriculum Project is eager to get more people involved. It's a great opportunity to collaborate with like-minded educators, share ideas, get new ideas, and above all - have a more intimate connection to the Adirondacks, said Hildreth.