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Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA)

In collaboration with Common Threads, Wild Whatcom, and RE Sources Sustainable Schools, NSEA’s project encourages K-5 teachers to move student learning outdoors and incorporate local context into their lessons. The four CBO partners who specialize in salmon recovery, school gardens, nature immersion, and natural resource conservation provide experiential education that gets students outside, keeps lessons place-based, and teaches resilience, respect, and conservation of nature.

The project hosts up to 50 K-5 teachers in Whatcom County. Sessions focus on increasing teachers’ understanding of climate science, and applicable local resources for context and support, while drawing connections between NGSS and hands-on outdoor lessons incorporating environmental stewardship.

The series provides real world climate experiences that connect to NGSS. Offering place-based education for teachers and a connection to their specific environment allows students the ability to make sense of the natural world around them. Additionally, teachers are offered a mentoring network for outdoor connections that are outside of the standard education framework.

Teacher Professional Development

Targeted inclusion of early elementary teachers provides much needed professional development opportunities with a focus on climate science lessons and resources for younger students. Rural school district teachers were especially targeted to provide equal representation of their counties where professional development may otherwise be lacking. For example, several educators from private schools outside the school districts, homeschool cooperatives, and Lummi Nation School attended. By targeting these teachers, this project provides a critical collaborative component that is normally missing in these communities, due to differences in school infrastructures and support systems. Furthermore, recruitment relied on personal connections and trust, which only CBOs had with these communities.

Teacher Summit Sessions

Each CBO focuses on increasing teachers’ understanding of climate science, and applicable local resources for context and support, while drawing connections between NGSS and hands-on outdoor lessons incorporating environmental stewardship. This project is designed to build teacher confidence to lead experiential, place-based science lessons beyond the walls of the classroom, thus supporting NGSS through outdoor experiential education with behavior tips and tricks for the teaching outdoors and risk assessment strategies when doing so.

Partners & Collaborators

Common Threads
Resources for Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Schools
Wild Watcom
Lummi Nation
NW ESD 189
Western Washington University, Woodring College of Education

Teacher Summit Sessions

Session 1

Three-hour focus on outdoors and local context connections, an overview of NGSS and SEP experiments, climate science 101.

Session 2

All day field session broken into two tiers (K-4 and 5-12)

4-12 Lessons Include:

  • Garden of the Salish Sea Curriculum: Spat, What’s That? Exploring factors that impact oyster’s life cycle
  • Goodness Gracious, Where Have All the Glaciers Gone? Understanding the greenhouse gas effect and how it impacts glaciers locally.

5-12 Lessons Include:

  • North Cascades Institute: Snowflake Morphology: Using snowflakes as a microcosm of the snowpack and understanding how changes in snowpack influence the viability of our watersheds
  • RE Sources for Sustainable Schools: Stormwater 101
Session 3

All day field session broken into two tiers (K-4 and 5-12)

4-12 Lessons Include:

  • Common Threads Farms: Using a garden to teach climate science concepts
  • Wild Whatcom: Oh Salmon! An interactive journey through the history of Whatcom Creek

5-12 Lessons Include:

  • Garden of the Salish Sea: The ABC’s of Ocean Acidification: A hands-on way to understand the chemistry that impacts our oceans and shell building
  • RE Sources for Sustainable Schools: All for One, tragedy of the commons
Session 4

Planning collaboration to revise lesson implementation and decide next steps using local resources for tailoring the unit, lesson and curriculum.

Success Stories from NSEA

Climate Science Teacher Summit

Climate Science Teacher Summit

Nearly 60 K-12 educators from Skagit and Whatcom Counties are participating in a 4-day workshop to dive deeper into the NGSS through hands-on outdoor lessons facilitated by a collaboration between six community-based organizations.

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Stories of Us and the Environment

Stories of Us and the Environment

Last week the NWESD 189 held the first of a two-part ClimeTime class called “Stories of Us and the Environment." This class focused on the intersection of ELA and science, specifically through the lens of narratives that we all have inside of us. A group of mostly K-5...

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