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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 staff facilitated workshops and is providing school-based planning sessions, and field support.

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.

The NGSS in Action Workshop Series in the Puget Sound ESD
IslandWood delivered this four-workshop series to 120 teachers at school and community sites near Woodinville, Renton, and Puyallup. Teachers were introduced to the different dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards and collaborated on adapting their classroom science units to incorporate their communities and local environmental problems. Participation of informal educators from a variety of community-based organizations provided teachers additional perspectives on how to use their local spaces.

Storylines Support in the Olympic ESD
IslandWood supported 31 teachers in the Elementary Storylines Project in using local phenomena as a part of their storylines and did an additional training with 25 teachers focused on incorporating schoolyard investigations into science units.

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 and Puget Sound ESDs towards incorporating local phenomena, field experiences, and community assets into their curriculum. Examples of this 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 includes 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.

Upcoming Classes

There are no upcoming events.

Partners & Collaborators

Pierce County Conservation District
King County Wastewater
Washington Stormwater Center
Seattle Audubon


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 stakeholders’ input, and develop solutions. Then, 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

Community Mapping with Crosscutting Concepts

IslandWood Teacher Professional Development in PSESD On February 2nd, 22 teachers and educators spent the morning at Cascade View Elementary School in Tukwila learning and practicing how the use of crosscutting concepts and climate related standards can be supported...

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Engineering in Community

IslandWood Teacher Professional Development in PSESD On January 26th 24 teachers met at King County South Treatment Plant in Renton and practiced the engineering design process on local stormwater problems, and later applied it to practical small-scale solutions to...

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Understanding Urban Water Systems

As part of the IslandWood Teacher Professional Development in PSESD, 12 teachers met at the King County South Wastewater Treatment Plant in Renton to learn and discuss how humans impact the water cycle in urban environments, how climate change is effecting these...

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