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 localizing of national science units, IslandWood aims to create community, share resources, and provide opportunities for teachers to make climate science relevant, meaningful, and connected to their student’s communities. 

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.

2023-24 School Year Course Offerings:

  • Fall: Seasonal Change in the Schoolyard for preK-2nd grade teachers. Use observable seasonal changes to anchor a Next Generation Science Standards-aligned curriculum that will get your students excited about doing science in their schoolyard. Incorporating your schoolyard and community into your classroom is a powerful strategy for justice-centered and equitable science learning that connects Next Generation Science Standards to personal experiences, makes learning relevant and affirms all students as scientists and caring citizens.
  • Winter: Community-Centered Climate Action for 3-5th grade teachers. This course presents an air quality focused storyline that integrates Next Generation Science Standards with related social studies standards. Your students will build an understanding of how air pollution impacts other species, their community, and the climate. They will investigate their school grounds to inquire about and monitor air quality as well as learn about carbon emissions and activism in their community. Teachers and students will gain inspiration from the actions of local community members and then develop and implement an action plan to make a difference.

Localizing National Science Units

Amidst the adoption of NGSS science curriculum created for a national audience, teachers and districts have identified a need for a greater connection between the national science units and their student’s communities, ecosystems, and lived experiences. IslandWood and its partners have been acting on that desire as they develop strategies, approaches and curricular support to help students see how the science in their classroom is relevant in their communities and their region.

IslandWood has partnered again this year with the Lawrence Hall of Science, Seattle Public Schools, and the Olympic Educational Service District to support the “localizing” of Amplify Science Units. Building off last year’s efforts, IslandWood has gathered a second teacher working group this year, to pilot and develop additional appendices for Amplify Science Units. IslandWood is also working with districts to support teachers in localizing specific Amplify Science units (for which “localizing appendices” were developed during the 2022-23 school year).

IslandWood’s efforts include other curricula as well. IslandWood has been working with partners to provide more general workshops on localizing strategies at WSTA and NSTA conferences and is partnering with the NWESD and OESD to provide OpenSciEd focused workshops for Middle School teachers. They are also planning for next year’s Localizing Science Working Group to include both Amplify Science and OpenSci teachers.

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

Partners & Collaborators


Seasonal Change in the Schoolyard for PreK-2 Teachers

Use observable seasonal changes to anchor a Next Generation Science Standards-aligned curriculum that will get your students excited about doing science in their schoolyard.

IslandWood’s Community-Centered Climate Action for 3rd-5th Grade Teachers

Did you know idling cars during school pickup impacts air quality and the environment? Have you ever wondered about the role of trees in relation to air quality? Learn how to use an engineering design focused action project to motivate and empower your students.

Introduction to Localizing OpenSciEd for Middle School Teachers

Are you teaching or supporting OpenSciEd Middle School units this year? Would you like some help in thinking about how to make the units meaningful and relevant to your middle school students? IslandWood, Olympic ESD, and Northwest ESD have been working with teachers, developers and school district partners on an approach to localizing national science units and we’d love to share it with you!

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