Implementing NGSS-aligned instruction is a priority in Wahluke School District. Where, you may wonder, is Wahluke?
Wahluke School District is located on the east bank of the Columbia River in Central Washington. The District encompasses the towns of Mattawa, Desert Aire and the farms of the Wahluke Slope. The students served by Wahluke School District are 97% Hispanic/Latino, 92% low income, and 54% English language Learners
Wahluke School District is also located in Educational Service District 105 and is a member of a collaborative group of public school districts and private schools known as the Science Education Cooperative. The Science Co-op is sharing the cost of implementing and sustaining NGSS-aligned Smithsonian Science For the Classroom units in their elementary classrooms. The lessons and activities in these new units provide first-hand experiences for children with science and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and core ideas. Teachers need training to facilitate 3-dimensional student learning and manage materials for the activities.
The Science Cooperative provides training for the new Smithsonian units at ESD 105 in Yakima. This professional learning is supported by the NGSS/ClimeTime grant. Classroom teachers with expertise with the NGSS and the Smithsonian units are recruited to learn how to provide the training. With experience, these teacher leaders become known as “Master Trainers”. The Master Trainers are very effective PD providers for their colleagues because they have the credibility of classroom experience.
When Wahluke School District needed to implement new NGSS-aligned science units, only one barrier remained. How to get their 60 teachers to the unit trainings 60 miles away at ESD 105?
The solution was to take the science unit training to Wahluke School District. On August 21, the ESD 105 Regional Science Coordinator, six Master Trainers, and a pickup load of training kits traveled to Mattawa. Training classes were held at Morris Schott Elementary. Wahluke teachers learned how to facilitate new science units with titles like “How Can We Send a Message Using Sound?” and “How Can We Stop Soils From Washing Away?”
On the very same day, 60 kits of equipment and materials were delivered by the Science Cooperative for the new science units Wahluke teachers were training for.
Later that day, Missy Stevenson, Wahluke School District’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction sent an email message to her district contacts and ESD 105’s Regional Science Coordinator with this subject line – Many Shout Outs for Science Training Today!
She added – “A huge thanks to Mike Brown and his excellent instructors for driving to Mattawa. This model allowed for our teachers to be trained on campus, avoid traveling to Yakima as well as sub costs. I also love the fact that teachers did not need to be subbed out. All the teachers I talked to said that they feel much more prepared to teach their kit and appreciated the training and “real-life” teachers training on the kits.”
To make science learning equitable for all children, sometimes you have to “go the extra mile”.