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Nature as classroom for Patrick Henry HS teacher

Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 10:57 am

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One local high school teacher returned to the classroom this summer, but it just so happened it was a floating classroom out on the river.

Last week Eric Bohi, an oceanography teacher at Patrick Henry High School, participated in “Chesapeake classrooms,” a hands-on learning program with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“It was a great trip,” Bohi said.

Eric Bohi, a Patrick Henry High School teacher, and another teacher take an opportunity to investigate part of the wetlands “by immersion.” (Photo by Bill Portlock)

Eric Bohi, a Patrick Henry High School teacher, and another teacher take an opportunity to investigate part of the wetlands “by immersion.” (Photo by Bill Portlock)

During the five-day class, Bohi learned how to survey the fish population and test water. When the group surveyed fish, Bohi said they discovered that Blue Catfish were in abundance in the Rappahannock River.  He hopes to transfer his new knowledge and experiences to the classroom in September to further engage his students.

“I want to have them go out there and do what we were doing,” he said. “I’d love to expose my kids to that environment.”

He plans to start taking his classes on more field trips such as one to Fox Island, where he and the other teachers in the floating classroom visited last week.

The group stayed in eco-friendly lodging and Bohi said his students would really learn the importance of water and pay more attention to how much of it they use on a daily basis.

Bohi said in order to get water pumping in the lodging, they had to ride a bike for 15 to 20 minutes.

In addition to water conservation, Bohi said his classes would be able to understand the science behind the bay and protecting it. He hopes to teach them how to test water and how much oxygen it has, which is something he learned on his trip.

Bohi believes the trip helped him form a relationship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation so that he can do similar activities like testing water or analyzing crab populations with his students.

“I think this will help me get more excited about teaching [my students] about the bay,” Bohi said.

He said he’ll expand his section on the Chesapeake Bay now that he has more hands-on experience with it and has a better handle on how to get the class’ attention.

Bohi said he learned about the program from a colleague and was interested in enhancing his teaching techniques and his own knowledge.

But, outdoor and water activities aren’t anything new for Bohi.

“I’m a big time nature guy,” he said.

Each summer, he goes to Waves, N.C. to surf and spend time outdoors. Sometimes, Bohi said he even takes his teaching skills out to the beach when tourists are wondering about “rip tides” or other oceanography subjects.

Bohi’s current teaching model in the classroom consists of lectures, PowerPoint slideshows and videos. Because the school is roughly 90 miles from the water, Bohi said it makes it difficult to give his students any firsthand knowledge.

“I’m really hoping to get [more] hands-on,” Bohi said.

Ultimately, he wants to move away from his current style of teaching and do more engaging activities with his students. Bohi said his 90-minute lecture can get a little boring, even for an elective credit course.

During the program, teachers received instruction on how to turn what they learned into lesson plans for their classes and Bohi hopes to change his classroom dynamic around.

The trip is not a part of Hanover school’s teacher development programs; Bohi decided to do it on his own time to expand his teaching methods.

“You know how much you love teaching? When it doesn’t seem like a job,” he said.