Just before school let out for the summer, 24 Mendocino County elementary school teachers representing 15 public and public charter schools joined colleagues from all over Northern California to participate in a three-day science and literacy workshop at the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Institute for Inquiry.
Participants engaged in deep learning activities based on the Institute for Inquiry’s research connecting learning theory, English Language Development (ELD) strategies, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Reflecting on her experience, Manchester Elementary School teacher Avis Anderson commented, “The workshop was a transformative experience for me as a grade 3-4-5 teacher. I am shifting my practices and including many of these three-dimensional ideas every day!”
According to Mendocino County Office of Education eLearning Specialist, Theresa House, teachers left the program excited about enhancing their science programs and utilizing the tools, strategies, and resources acquired throughout the workshop. She said, “They gained more confidence in engaging all students in authentic science inquiry through meaning-making strategies that lead to a deeper understanding of science concepts.” House has worked in partnership with the Exploratorium for years and serves as the regional contact for our area. She collaborated with other county offices of education to plan the breakout session.
Dana Gray Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Whitney Sterner described the Exploratorium workshop as a mind-shift change. “It brought me closer to the speaking and listening standards while providing me with tangible ways to improve my practice when I returned to my classroom. I believe science talks will improve the educational experience of every child,” she said.
The Exploratorium workshop allowed Mendocino County educators to meet and collaborate with colleagues across a five-county region, enhancing the overall experience. Terry D’Selkie, Elementary Science Teacher on Special Assignment at Ukiah Unified School District, said, “I always love learning with other motivated teachers in a creative and stimulating location like the Exploratorium. The main idea I took away from the experience was the importance of students using science talks to further their learning and understanding of scientific concepts.”
House said, “We are extremely grateful for this opportunity to extend our focus on NGSS professional development as we continue to connect teachers across our county and region. We look forward to building on this community of learners as our districts move toward the implementation phase of the Next Generation Science Standards.” For additional information regarding the Exploratorium workshop or literacy supports for the NGSS, please contact House via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.