On August 18, 2020, and again with a second cohort on September 19, 2020, IslandWood staff and K-8 teachers came together on Zoom to consider how to make science engaging and meaningful for students in a year when the school communities were turned upside-down. Over the course of these three-hour PD sessions, followed in subsequent weeks by small-group professional learning community (PLC) meetings, participants tried out strategies for empowering students to identify local phenomena; experimented with a student-centered, phenomenon-driven storyline, using understandings developed through practices and content from multiple disciplines (including Next Generation Science Standards, ELA, Math and Social Studies); considered how making science local and relevant is a part of educational equity and justice; and adapted and implemented activities to work with students and their families in the context of at-home learning.
Reflecting on implementation related to the course, one teacher said, “We were able to connect science to students’ lived experiences in a way that we hadn’t before. We were also able to involve families in the experiments in a way that improved student engagement and required no materials/little time. This is anti-racist because we changed the system and structure of the way we teach science to reach and engage our most marginalized students.”
Teachers developed and implemented thoughtful science lessons and units as a product of this course, which IslandWood staff and fellow teachers had the pleasure to share and review in a final, large group session. We can’t wait to see what these teachers do next year!