Are you looking for some free professional development that you can attend online this summer? Well, here you go!
The Smithsonian will host the National Education Summit from July 18 to 20. This three-day event offers teachers the chance to explore important topics and connect with others, both online and in person. The summit will cover subjects such as sustainability, STEAM education, the Smithsonian’s “Our Shared Future: Reckoning With Our Racial Past” initiative, and arts education. The event will feature presentations by renowned experts, including 2023 National Teacher of the Year Rebecka Peterson, actor and activist Maulik Pancholy, psychiatrist Dr. Pamela Cantor, and Smithsonian educators.
This is not a science/STEM specific conference but several of the threads relate directly to science and STEM education:
Life on a Sustainable Planet
Reckoning with Our Racial Past
An Integrated Arts Education
The event is free to attend either face-to-face or online. Click HERE to register. I just signed up (for online) and hope to see some of y’all there.
Cleanet.org is a resource for teaching climate and energy science. Their site has a nice set of tools for teaching controversy and developing critical thinking skills related to climate change. You will find educational resources, strategies, and links to recorded webinars for engaging students with controversial topics surrounding climate change- there is a section titled Controversy is not a Bad Thing. Lots of good stuff here.
I recently took an online course that featured this thoughtfully designed interactive article by the Seattle Times on First Foods. The article clearly describes Indigenous “First Foods,” which refers to the traditional and culturally significant foods of Native peoples in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The website showcases the efforts of Native communities to preserve and revitalize their food traditions, which are deeply intertwined with their cultural heritage and way of life.
The site features stunning visuals, stories, and interviews with Native individuals and communities who are working to protect and restore the availability of First Foods. It highlights the challenges they face due to factors like climate change, habitat loss, and environmental degradation. The website also discusses the importance of these foods not only from a cultural perspective but also for the health and well-being of Indigenous communities.
The article provides insights into the traditional knowledge, practices, and stewardship that Native peoples employ to ensure the sustainability and resilience of First Foods. It explores the collaborative efforts between Native communities, tribal governments, scientists, and conservation organizations to address the threats to these foods and implement conservation strategies. The article ultimately aims to raise awareness about the significance of First Foods and the ongoing efforts to preserve and protect them for future generations.
In March 2023 I personally took two different asynchronous courses by EarthGen. I maintain my teaching certificate so I’m always on the lookout for interesting ways to get clock hours and STEM clock hours. I signed up for both Foundations of Climate Science (3 STEM clock hours) and Climate Change in Every Classroom: Cultivating Agricultural Knowledge (12 STEM Clock Hours). I was VERY impressed with both of the workshops I took via EarthGen. As someone who designs lots of asynchronous learning it was clear to me that these courses were thoughtfully designed with a focus on the organization of the courses and the quality of the learning activities. Another note is that you will spend the listed amount of time learning…there is no rushing through the courses. But you also won’t want to- I found myself sinking into many of the optional resources they provided. I would say that the Cultivating Agricultural Knowledge is one of the best workshops I’ve ever taken- the course is thoughtfully designed and the content is highly engaging. (Because my wife is CEO of our local food bank I also appreciated the intersection of science, climate, and the food system.)
Below you will find descriptions of three workshops that are available.
Registration ends May 30th, 2023 and all courses must be completed by June 7th.
Foundations of Climate Change: (3 STEM Clock Hours) This course will introduce you to climate change and begin interpreting climate science data. You will explore ways to take action with your students and think about how to bring this work back to your classroom. Register here!
Climate Change in Every Classroom Series- Cultivating Agricultural Knowledge (12 STEM Clock Hours) This course will introduce you to the impacts of climate change on agriculture in Washington. You will work through modules about first foods, farmworkers, and water and irrigation. This course will culminate with an opportunity to bring your learning to your classroom. Register here!
Climate Change in Every Classroom Series- Season of Smoke (12 STEM Clock Hours) This course will introduce you to the impacts of climate change on wildfire, heat, and air quality. You will work through modules on air quality, agriculture, and displacement and explore the intersection they have with the Season of Smoke. This course will culminate with an opportunity to bring the learning back to your own classroom. Register here!
Healthy Habitats: Climate Change Action for K-2 is a primary climate change education resource designed to help elementary educators teach about climate change and its impacts on local habitats. This resource is part of the resource library at the Climate Generation site. The resource consists of three lessons that build off of one another and are designed to be taught sequentially. The lessons aim to develop students’ socio-emotional learning skills, empathy for living beings, and understanding of climate justice issues on local, national, and global scales. The resource was developed by Climate Generation in collaboration with three elementary educators from different parts of the US. The lessons encourage students to explore their local schoolyard habitat, reflect on how climate change may be impacting it, and work together to plan and implement an action that helps reduce local climate impacts and cultivate climate resiliency at their school.
Overall, Healthy Habitats looks like a valuable resource for elementary educators looking to teach about climate change in a way that is engaging, accessible, and relevant to their young students’ lives. The lessons are nicely designed with embedded links to videos and other resources along with supportive student handouts.
Note: you will have to go through a “check out” process to access the mini-unit but the materials are free. A donation is appreciated I’m sure. Check it out.
Invitations to Inquiry by BSCS is a set of nicely-designed mini-units that provide thoughtful ways for secondary students to engage in the practice of analyzing and interpreting data. Below is a screencast where I provide a quick overview of the materials.
In my work with classroom teachers it is common to hear a certain amount of hesitancy in engaging students (especially younger students) with learning about climate. The thought being that the content is too heavy and overwhelming. This book might be a great resource for thinking about how to tackle learning about climate head on with a solution-oriented frame and also dealing with our feelings about it.
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Philip Bell and Nancy Price have shared a graduate course they taught at the University of Washington on Climate Justice and Environmental Justice in Education during winter quarter 2021. The entire course has a nicely organized Google Site built to tell the story of the learning. You will be able to walk through the 10 sessions using the embedded slides, readings and videos. There is a nicely organized set of Resources used as well as a Wakelet that organizes many other Climate Justice resources.
In order to get a good sense of the course before digging in, I recommend checking out the following:
About the Course: This gives you a 1-page overview with guiding questions and key resources
Course Readings: Scroll over the page to get a preview of the sessions. Pay attention to the quotes and session titles
Projects: Preview the projects that small groups of graduate students engaged in
I can imagine this resource being used in multiple ways:
Work through the sessions independently as a learner
Assemble a small group of colleagues and collaboratively move through the course together
Harvest important resources for your own learning and work
Use this as a model for teaching your own course or unit on Climate and Environmental Justice
Washington Green Schools is a non-profit organization working to empower students to become environmental leaders by certifying their schools and conserving resources. During the pandemic Washington Green Schools has added the option for students to apply for At-Home Certification.
I would argue that while the usual school certification process is powerful this is one of those instances where the pandemic can lead to interesting modifications to our procedures. Encouraging students and their families to make changes in their home practices is where the real environmental impact can happen.
Teachers and families can download the Washington Green Schools At-Home Certification Kit HERE. The kit provides a menu of projects to choose from (with their family’s permission and support). Students then conduct a home audit and collect data on the change (project) they selected. Families will also get access to the Carbon Calculator tool and multiple other learning resources. I can image this being a powerful at-home STEM learning experience for the winter and/or spring of 2021.