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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.

2021-22 School Year Course Offerings:

  • Fall: Schoolyard Learning for preK-2nd grade teachers. Centers Seasonal Change in the schoolyard and neighborhood as the driving phenomena.
  • 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

This year we are working across grade levels at a single high opportunity elementary school to explore how focused 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 developing 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 the year with two all school professional development sessions and are following up with grade level meetings and direct support (as needed) with students. After a year of intensive 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.

Marian Luz Fink

Graham Hill Elementary

Upcoming Classes

There are no upcoming events.

Partners & Collaborators

Puget Sound ESD
Northwest ESD
Olympic ESD
Rising Star Elementary School
Dirt Corps
Nurturing Roots

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!

Tammi Mack

Thornton Creek Elementary

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.

Anya Rifkin

Decatur Elementary

Success Stories from IslandWood

Science Storylines for Elementary Teachers

Science Storylines for Elementary Teachers

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...

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Community Science

Community Science

On January 16, 2021, and again on May 15, 2021, IslandWood staff, teacher participants, and collaborative partners gathered on Zoom to discuss community-centered science storylines at the secondary level. With support from a high school science teacher/co-facilitator...

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Science in Your Neighborhood

Science in Your Neighborhood

On August 18, 2020, and again with a second cohort on September 19, 2020, IslandWood staff and K-8 teachers came together on Zoom to consider how to make science engaging and meaningful for students in a year when the school communities were turned upside-down. Over...

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