IslandWood’s teacher professional development opportunities are designed to support powerful learning experiences that connect to students’ lives and communities. In this time of increasing awareness and activism, IslandWood is joining with teachers in working to address the vast racial, economic, and environmental disparities in our communities and classrooms.
Through professional development courses and a focus school project, IslandWood aims to create community, share resources, and build a way forward within the unpredictable landscape of remote teaching and learning, and a commitment to addressing climate change through an intersectional lens.
Teacher Professional Development
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)* call for students to use the practices, concepts, and content of science and engineering to understand and solve problems relevant to their lives. When teachers emphasize their students’ home environments, they make science more applicable and engaging while building foundations to understand global issues like climate change.
IslandWood courses are for teachers and educators who teach science to K-8 graders. Each course is focused on teachers in a different grade band. The courses span three months and include a Saturday kick-off session followed by multiple shorter after-school sessions. Each one provides an example NGSS curriculum as a model for incorporating local phenomena into storylines, embedding equity and justice in teaching, integration of Next Generation Science Standards with other subjects and inclusion of indigenous ways of knowing. Separate cohorts for each grade band will provide for both online only options and in-person Saturdays if/when appropriate.
2022-23 School Year Course Offerings:
- Fall: Seasonal Change in the Schoolyard for preK-2nd grade teachers. Uses observable seasonal changes to anchor Next Generation Science Standards-aligned curriculum that will get students excited about doing science in their schoolyard.
- Winter: Community-Centered Climate Change for 6-8th grade teachers. Uses the changes in water levels at a local river to explore the impacts of climate change on snowpack and how changes in the river impact human and animal communities in the watershed.
- Spring: What Makes A Weed A Weed for 3-5th grade teachers. Uses the springtime blooming of Dandelions to explore changes in climate and human interactions with the environment.
Focus School Project
During 2022-2023, we are continuing our second year supporting Science curriculum implementation across grade levels at Rising Star Elementary . This project explores how focused curricular efforts can build on community resources and empower Black, Indigenous, and other Students of Color (BIPOC students). The school is a Targeted Supports school in Southeast Seattle and we have partnered with the school’s administration, Puget Sound Educational Service District, and EarthGen on the project.
We are also continuing to cultivate partnerships with local organizations including Nurturing Roots, the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps, and Dirt Corps to build the capacity of sustainable school partnerships and particularly center place-based, BIPOC-led organizations in the community. We started off this year with an all-school retreat and professional development session for Rising Star staff at Islandwood headquarters and are following up with grade level meetings (PreK-5th) and direct support for teachers and students, as needed. After this second year of intensive curricular support, we will assess the impacts and share our learnings with a wider audience.
I think it helped educate me in how to look at the implications of science and our environment on our most vulnerable populations. I feel the urgency more than ever that All students need to receive quality science education. That all students need to connect with the earth and understand how policies in science affect them personally, affect their neighborhoods. Thinking critically about the decisions that are being made around them and without them, will be one of the most important skills I can teach.
Partners & Collaborators
I SO appreciate everything I have learned and continue to learn in connection with Islandwood! You have inspired me to be a more energized and excited science teacher and shared ways to inspire and support my students in feeling more connected and excited at owning their identities as scientists!
I have changed the way that I include students’ experiences and knowledge into our lessons and their learning. I have also started our science lessons with the Thanksgiving address that Robin Wall Kimmerer talks about in Braiding Sweetgrass to help my students see and feel the positive things that the natural world can do for us, and to understand that the Native communities are our original scientists and keepers of our land.
Success Stories from IslandWood
On August 26th, 2022, 38 Rising Star Elementary School staff jumped on a bus to headed to Bainbridge Island! The staff trip was a part of IslandWood’s Focus School partnership with Rising Star Elementary centered on helping students across grades make connections...
We kicked off our Localizing Amplify Science Working Group with participants on our Bainbridge Island campus during the first week of August! Educators from all over Puget Sound were at IslandWood to begin a year-long collaboration to enhance the nationwide K–8...
On March 6, 2021, and again on March 13, IslandWood staff and elementary teachers came together on Zoom to explore two science storylines related to local phenological phenomena (say that five times fast!). Teachers of K-2 students explored a storyline related to...