Creating a Better Way to Learn (CBWL)

The Catesby Trust, the College of Charleston, the Charleston County School District, and SCETV have collaborated to develop CBWL as a series of project-based learning (PBL) lesson plans that are based on the results of Mark Catesby’s own research and illustrations.

Much of the material for CBWL is drawn from The Trust’s publication, The Curious Mister Catesby, and from the Smithsonian’s online version of Catesby’s landmark two-volume work, Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (view the book online).



As South Carolina attracts more manufacturing and technology companies to the state, it is apparent that there is a critical need to enhance public school education to better meet the needs of employers.

Project-based learning (PBL) lesson plans have been proven to increase student engagement and lead to stronger academic achievement, and the effectiveness of our CBWL lesson plans has already been tested with positive results in middle and elementary schools.


Making CBWL Lesson Plans Available to Teachers

CBWL project-based learning (PBL) lesson plans are geared toward students in third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. The plans are already available as part of ETV’s South Carolina LearningWhy website and PBS LearningMedia websites, but getting them into the classroom requires teachers to go against the inertia of limited school finances, bureaucratic systems, and human resistance to change.

The main thing we need to do is bridge the gap that exists between an already large pool of lessons plans that are available to teachers across Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties and having those teachers both know about and deciding to use CBWL lesson plans. This requires a professional marketing effort that is now the primary goal of our fundraising.


CBWL and Dance

Our CBWL PBL lesson plans were first envisioned as part of STEM-based course work. So even we were surprised when a College of Charleston dance educator introduced CBWL to a class of receptive third-graders who learned how to bring Catesby’s concepts alive through dance.


Creating a Better Way to Learn with Walter Edgar’s Journal

Dr. Walter Edgar talks about about Mark Catesby’s legacy, the Catesby Trust, and Creating a Better Way to Learn with Frances Welch (Dean of the College of Charleston’s School of Education), David Elliot (Executive Director of the Catesby Trust), and Dean Byrd of SCETV.

Listen now (52 minutes)

Recorded January 2017

CBWL in SCETV’s Newsletter

LearningWhy Lesson Collaboration: Creating a Better Way to Learn

May 1, 2017 • Posted in Education by Bette Jamison

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 SchoolDistrict (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