Washington Green Schools
Washington Green Schools has created a replicable professional development model in partnership with ESDs for K-12 teachers called Climate Science STEM Seminars, wherein NGSS instruction is anchored in a local climate phenomenon of interest and relevance to communities that model classroom pedagogies that lead to effective learning. Through these STEM Seminars, teachers explore the relationship between climate science and an environmental topic (e.g., fires, coastal hazards, agriculture, human health), engaging in deep learning around science and engineering practices (e.g., argumentation with evidence, asking questions and defining problems) and are guided to plan an integration of a learned activity or resource into their classroom.
Additionally, STEM Seminars offer a unique opportunity for teachers to engage in adult learning, analyzing current and vetted data with a climate scientist from the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group who has first-hand experience conducting research in Antarctica and Greenland. As a complement to this elevated educational experience, a local speaker (e.g., Puget Sound Clean Air Agency) will speak to the local perspective of the climate challenge being addressed and discuss approaches to mitigate and adapt to climate change locally.
STEM Seminars can be delivered to a wide range of grade bands because the training allows for supported planning time with teachers. ESD Regional Science Coordinators help support this work, tying in climate-focused performance expectations for each grade. Extensions to the STEM Seminar template are being explored and include ZOOM conference follow up meetings with the climate scientist, support from WA Science Fellows emeritus, and more.
Teacher Professional Development
Contributions to Washington’s NGSS
Washington Green Schools has created the STEM Seminar model – an effective teacher professional development format that teaches educators how to leverage local climate phenomena to teach to the new Next Generation Science Standards and inspire their students to engage in science and engineering practices. WGS has also created a network of support for these teachers by connecting them with a climate scientist well-versed in communicating complicated climate science to a classroom audience and a system of local partners associated with clean air agencies, state universities, and researchers.
Contributions to Equity
Washington Green Schools has collaborated with the Regional Science Coordinators with each partner ESD to provide an enriching professional development experience in the location where the climate phenomena originate. That looks like hosting the training in Long Beach or Anacortes, WA when discussing coastal hazards or Stevenson or Kennewick, WA when exploring the future of fires in the state. This reduces travel time and expense for teachers and ties learning to topics that connect to the identity and interest of teachers. In addition, free STEM Clock Hours, substitute reimbursements, and meals are provided to remove financial barriers for participants. Instructional strategies that encourage student discourse address inequities in teaching a diversity of learners in the classroom.
Partners & Collaborators
UW Climate Impacts Group
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
Southwest Clean Air Agency
Seattle Public Utilities
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Crag Law Center
Cowlitz County Public Works
WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Climate Science STEM Seminars
As of April 18th, 204 unique teachers have participated in nine Climate Science STEM Seminars in ESD 112, 121, and 123. Four additional trainings are scheduled for ESD 101, 112, and 189. A truncated version of the STEM Seminar with professional learning communities have also been conducted in ESD 113 and 114 with nearly 60 additional teachers. Each teacher has completed a post-reflective survey of the experience, which indicates increased feelings of preparedness around integrating NGSS instructional strategies into their classroom utilizing a local climate science phenomenon.
STEM Seminars have been very well-received by teachers. One teacher from a ESD 112 raved, “this was seriously the best PD I have attended since I started teaching 14 years ago! Relevant, useful, and great resources!”
Success Stories from Washington Green Schools
On April 18th, 2019, the team at Washington Green Schools hosted their latest in a series of Climate Science STEM Seminars. This session focused on the relationship between agriculture and the changing climate and was hosted at the Windy Hills Winery in Ridgefield,...read more
In late March, a dozen teachers from Puget Sound ESD gathered at the Tacoma Nature Center to learn about how human health is impacted by climate change locally. After grappling with some of the latest data on regional air quality and climate change, teachers engaged...read more
In ESD 121, on March 22, 2019, fourteen teachers gathered at the WSU Stormwater Center to learn about how climate is impacting floods and droughts in the region. Teachers received a tour of the campus fish lab where scientists explore the impact of stormwater...read more