Into the Woods (ITW)
Queens College’s Into the Woods (ITW) project is an environmental literacy program for New York City Elementary School Teachers enhancing content knowledge about the Earth System and extending their classrooms outdoors into Nature. The classrooms continue to evolve into school stewardship and service learning in partnerships with parks and environmental organizations. The ITW project starts with five Elementary Globe books that link science, math and literacy. Fiction becomes reality during field training that uses GLOBE books as blueprints for how teachers can guide their students to conduct their own research to enhance understanding of the environment. The project trains teachers to design and supervise grade-appropriate research projects using GLOBE protocols in local parks; support them during those projects; and host annual research symposia during which students present their results. The project's template of immersing teachers and students in environmental research is becoming a national model for improving environmental literacy in all school systems. The NYU Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education works in partnership with Into the Woods to connect teachers to the resources, materials, and strategies required to successfully implement environmental education, outdoor learning, service learning and hands-on experiences across all grade levels and curriculum areas.
Earth System Science for Elementary Teachers (ESSET)
Angelo State University (ASU), in partnership with Texas borderlands school districts and the National Weather Service Office in San Angelo, Texas, are recipients of a NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant Priority 1 grant titled "Earth System Sciences for Elementary Teachers" (ESSET). This project will: 1) Increase the knowledge and skills level of 25 elementary in-service teachers regarding best practices for teaching integrated Earth System Science concepts in a learner-centered, outdoor environment; 2) Increase teachers' ability to align integrated science content with Texas standards-based curriculum and NOAA's Education Strategic Plan; and 3) Integrate concepts of environmental stewardship with teachers' newly acquired pedagogy and science content. Participants will receive nine semester-hours of ASU graduate credit, and a variety of tools and equipment for their classrooms following successful completion of this 18-month project. Anticipated results include increases in overall integrated science content knowledge, best practices, and self-efficacy for participating teachers. Scaling-up this proof-of-concept project to catalyze change across Texas will occur near the end of ESSET.
Great Lakes Rocks: Earth Systems Science Teacher Professional Development
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) offers teacher professional development courses geared toward 4-8th grade teachers in high needs schools and with limited experience in science content. Through the Great Lakes Revealed (GLR) education course, teachers explored the interconnectedness of the Earth’s systems through the unique lens of the Great Lakes region, and learned how climate has changed through time. Through hands-on and inquiry-based activities, MSI Senior Educators guided teacher through lessons and other resources, modeling content and pedagogy best practices, and encouraging knowledge building through a combination of experience, critical thinking and reflection. Participants also interacted with NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, with educators at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and with scientists from Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Formal evaluation shows that GLR teachers complete the program with substantially improved content knowledge, teaching skills, and confidence in science teaching, many becoming teacher leaders at their schools. The second stage of the GLR program involves a select group of teachers from the first year’s cohort who will deepen their understanding of climate change in the Great Lakes region by engaging in data-driven problem-based activities. Building on teachers’ content knowledge, this program will help teachers develop mechanisms to search, access, and use high quality tabular, graphical, and visual data to support effective climate change education. NOAA’s Science on a Sphere datasets will play a central role as teachers explore and then develop their own problem-based lessons to deliver to their own students during a Student Summit at MSI.