We offer standard and custom-designed professional development trainings to help prepare educators for the revised Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Framework. Focus is on strengthening content knowledge and teaching methods in earth, life, and physical sciences, while incorporating the best practices of environmental education in your classroom. See listing below for upcoming and ongoing professional development offerings.
Free online curriculum units
Hitchcock Center education staff have developed the following comprehensive curriculum units to teach environmental concepts to young people:
The Pond Ecosystem – Grade 3
Energy is Electrifying!! – Grade 4
Hydroshphere, Water and How We Use It – Grade 5
In Bloom in Western Massachusetts
Saturday, May 15, 9am–4pm
with Antioch University New England
As we’ve learned from the 2020-21 school year, it has been healthier to have children outside. But how do we successfully open up the doors and turn school inside out?
Join the Hitchcock Center as we host Antioch University New England’s In Bloom in Western Massachusetts on May 15, 2021 from 9am – 4pm. The maples, sassafras and inspiring ideas will be flowering by this time in the spring.
Morning and afternoon workshops will be held in-person outside and geared to preschool through third grade teachers, so invite your elementary teacher colleagues.
We’ll have regional presenters leading workshops, giving the keynote and leading panel discussions, and will continue to spotlight the work of Antioch University New England faculty members who teach in the Nature-based Early Childhood Certificate program.
We look forward to seeing you at one of this year’s spring In Bloom. We will be following Massachusetts and Hitchcock Center’s guidelines for COVID-19 and program flexibility will be determined by the conditions at the time of the event. There is a limit of 50 attendees. Portions of the conference will be held indoors, limited to 25 attendees at a time, socially distanced and with windows open. Registrants will receive additional information prior to the conference.
NEW for Spring 2021! Teaching STEM Outdoors During COVID-19
10 teachers in Grades K-5
One 90 minute session
Fee: $300.00 plus travel
Are you looking for creative and innovative ways to transition back to in-person teaching at school? What new techniques will you need to have in your toolkit to create a supportive structure for your class? According to medical experts, COVID-19 transmission decreases outdoors, making outdoor education a safe alternative to strictly indoor learning. Being outdoors is also known to reduce anxiety and increase focus in children, as well as increase their interest in the environment.
This teacher workshop will model CDC guidelines while extending the classroom to the outdoors. Learn how you can use your school grounds to teach science, math and literacy. We will model active explorations of:
- Ecosystem dynamics
- Plant and animal adaptations
- Engineering and design challenges
Math and writing practices as well as literature connections will be woven throughout our outdoor discoveries. You will leave with many tools and best practices to share with your colleagues.
Note: These trainings are available in-person only and for that reason they are temporarily on hold due to COVID-19.
The following trainings are designed to assist teachers in implementing curriculum units that have been developed by Hitchcock Center educators and can be custom-designed to meet your school’s professional development needs, whether it be a two, six or 10+ hour training. These units are aligned with the national NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) and are environment-based. They aim to make learning relevant to students’ lives and to prepare them to be critical thinkers and 21st century problem solvers. Workshops can be held at your school site or at the Hitchcock Center.
Professional Development Training: $200 per hour + travel fee
Consulting Fee: $120 per hour + travel fee
Registration and Questions
For more information on trainings, please contact Helen Ann Sephton, School Programs Coordinator via email or 413-256-6006.
Implementing New Science Units in Your School
- Making and Tinkering: Discovery-based STEM Learning for Teachers – Grades: PreK-5 (3 hr. session)
Making and Tinkering is hands-on Science and Engineering. It can be an effective means to engage in STEM concepts and practices. It provides opportunities to make discoveries across disciplines and content areas as well as connections between art, science, and technology. As the first step to Engineering and Design, tinkering allows children to learn about the properties of materials and what tools can do. Tinkering is a fun and exciting way to engage in serious learning and problem-solving.
- Creativity, Imagination and Big Ideas! Grades: PreK-2 (2 hr. session)
The future demands creative problem solvers, innovators, scientists, engineers and collaborators. How do we encourage children to expand on their ideas, ask good questions and find solutions? Giving students the time and support to generate and explore through imagination and play allows for a creative and open process whereby new and exciting ideas may emerge. In this workshop we will use simple materials to practice strategies for expanding our own ideas in order to help us model this process with students.
- Digital Ecology (2 hr. session)
There are many benefits of using photography as an integral part of a child’s education. The camera is a great tool for collecting data and promoting observation. Images can be used to recall information, analyze data, demonstrate conclusions, and reflect on the process of learning. Digital photography involves using the camera to make ideas visible, to communicate and collaborate with each other, and to help children explore and understand the natural world around them.
- The Pond Ecosystem – Grade 3
This unit explores ecosystem concepts through the study of a pond. Through a story, students learn about the interconnections between plants, animals and human activity in an aquatic system. Students visit a pond, collect data, observe animal adaptations and create a pond food web. Using their observations, drawings and research, students create a pond field guide to share with the school community.
- Energy is Electrifying! – Grade 4
This award-winning curriculum will help you and your students understand where our energy comes from in Massachusetts and how it is generated. You will explore both renewable and non-renewable energy sources and generate electricity using a simple generator, solar collectors, wind turbines, and hydro turbines. There is an emphasis on sustainable technologies and carbon emissions, and making the connection between human activities and climate change. The materials used in the workshop are affordable and sturdy for use by students!
- The Hydrosphere, Water, and How We Use It – Grade 5
Students explore the Earth’s major systems and then focus on the hydrosphere. They research Earth’s water and investigate how they themselves get water. They carry out an inventory of how much water their classroom (or school) is currently using. This leads to an Engineering Design process, whereby students work in groups to design water conservation approaches for their classroom or school. Students implement their inventions and track subsequent water use and any changes resulting from their designs.
- The Practices of STEM Learning
In this training teachers will engage in leaning experiences that model STEM practices. We will explore how to make the connections with science, technology, engineering and math in the classroom and outdoors. Participants will play games, investigate inquiries, learn songs, and explore outdoor mini-trips that develop important science skills and attitudes.
- Using Your School Grounds to Teach to the Revised Massachusetts Science & Technology/Engineering Framework
Massachusetts is in the process of adopting new science and engineering standards. And the new ones are really good; but will require significant retooling for teachers. We can help you inventory your school grounds and plan activities and curriculum that are aligned to the new standards. We’ll go outside together and see what cool habitats and organisms can be found on your grounds. We’ll talk about reducing and coping with safety hazards while you are outside with your class. And we’ll share some fun activities and management strategies to ensure that your outdoor instructional time meets your curriculum goals.