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IslandWood is partnering with teachers to help them find ways to make their science classes more meaningful and engaging for all of their students with phenomena and investigations based in their local community. Towards this end, IslandWood is providing teacher workshops and individualized school-based supports.

Teacher Professional Development

“A great introduction to what the NGSS mean & look like in actual practice, taught in a very active, interesting way that feels attainable and endurable.” – Elizabeth Smith-Gordon, Bryn Mawr Elementary

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. Emphasizing context from students’ home environments makes science applicable and increases engagement, while building the foundations to understand larger global issues like climate change.

Teacher Workshops
IslandWood is offering a four-workshop series in multiple locations around North and Central Puget Sound for teachers and informal educators who teach science to 2nd-8th graders. The series helps teachers bring the Next Generation Science Standards alive with local phenomena, schoolyard investigations and real-world problem solving towards student’s understanding climate science and developing solutions for local environmental problems. A total of 14 workshops are expected to serve more than 200 teachers.

Storylines Support in the Olympic ESD
IslandWood is supporting teachers participating in Olympic ESD’s Elementary Storylines Project. in using local phenomena and investigations as a part of their schoolyard garden storylines.

On-Site Support

“I walked away from the follow up session with so many ideas for community connections and curriculum connections that I could create a year-long unit of study that would address a large percentage of the NGSS, CCSS and 21st Century Skills. The best part is that since the follow-up session was conducted at my teaching site [it] gave me ways to engage my students in their immediate environment.” – Teri deCocq, Mukilteo School District

IslandWood staff are meeting up with teachers at their schools in the Olympic, southern Northwest and Puget Sound ESDs to support them in incorporating local phenomena, field experiences, and community assets into their curriculum. Supports are personalized to the needs of the teacher, but have included:

  • Exploring the schoolyard or community and discussing how it could fit into science curriculums.
  • Further developing work started in an IslandWood teacher workshop.
  • Adapting a field lesson to support a science unit and fit specific students and their schoolyard.
  • Assistance with delivery of a field-based lesson.

These sessions are often an extension of the work started in a workshop but also include other teachers who are interested. Serving teachers in their local place helps address equity issues for those who do not otherwise have nearby opportunities for teacher training.

Sign up for workshops and on-site support on IslandWood’s Website.

Upcoming Classes

There are no upcoming events.

Partners & Collaborators

Pierce County Conservation District
King County Wastewater
Washington Stormwater Center
Seattle Audubon
Olympic ESD
Northwest ESD
Puget Sound ESD
Orcas Love Rain Gardens


Workshop 1: Science in the Schoolyard

Venture outside the walls of the classroom to find local environmental phenomena that can anchor your classroom science unit. Explore with us the big picture of Next Generation Science Standards’ “three dimensional” science learning and then get hands on with the Science and Engineering Practices as you use them to build an understanding of an example phenomenon in our “schoolyard.” You’ll leave this workshop with ideas and examples you can use in your own classroom science curriculum.

Workshop 2: Community Mapping with Crosscutting Concepts

Mapping neighborhood assets, opportunities, and problems can engage students more deeply in science and engineering. In this workshop you’ll learn how system models, looking for patterns, and observing change over time can help students investigate and map their community. Local ecosystems, water flow, and community assets are some of many possible areas for your mapping efforts. By the end of this workshop you’ll have strategies to use in mapping your community and ideas for how you can use the information gathered.

Workshop 3: Engineering in Community

How does engineering relate to solving problems in your community? Learn how IslandWood is using the engineering design process to help students investigate local stormwater problems, seek stakeholder input, and develop solutions. Explore what is involved in putting student ideas into action including possible real-world constraints, practical small-scale solutions potential partners, and mini-grant options. We’ll work together to figure out a plan for the topics and students you teach.

Workshop 4: Urban Water Systems

Would you like to learn more about how urban water systems actually work? Are you curious how water systems, the impacts of climate change, and related conservation issues can interest your students and integrate with NGSS? Join us to learn about wastewater and stormwater systems (may include tours of facilities, depending on the site) and then workshop how you might use this content in your classroom. Appropriate for all 4th-12th grade teachers.

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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