Rocky Shore Curriculum

Where Is It?

Where It Is

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The Rocky Shore Marine Science Curriculum that I wrote last year in collaboration with the Seacoast Science Center and the New Hampshire Sea Grant is starting to go places!  Just recently it made itself home in the teacher resource center of the New England Aquarium.  It is also available at the Seacoast Science Center, and at the Seacoast Science Center’s website.

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It can also be found at my Engage Your Students website and it has been accessed by several people from many countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, China, and more!

Where It Is Going

The curriculum will soon be flying to Atlanta, Georgia with Carol Steingart of Coast Encounters.  Atlanta is hosting this year’s National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA) “Share-A-Thon,” and I am so appreciative of Carol’s desire to share it with science teachers from acround the country!

I have thankfully had several requests for hard copies of the curriculum and will be snail-mailing them shortly.  Many New Hampshire schools have recently requested them, including East Kingston Elementary School, Saint Mary Academy, North Hampton Elementary School, and Hillsboro-Deering Elementary school.  Eliot Elementary School in Maine will also be getting a hard copy soon!

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The Casco Bay Estuary Partnership just recently contacted me as they have tremendous interest in the curriculum.  The tentative plan is share my curriculum with educators at the Brunswick High School on August 4th.  The curriculum will be available to participants during this summer professional development opportunity.

Where I Hope It Will Go

In efforts to spread the use of this curriculum, I am going to be contacting several aquariums and science centers on the Atlantic coast in hopes that they might house a copy or two of the curriculum at their facility.  I am hoping to have the curriculum available on multiple websites as well.

I have recently set up a Twitter account to spread the word of this curriculum, as well as to post topics about science at the elementary level, about inquiry-based instruction, and other topics revolving around elementary education and marine science.

Please consider helping me spread the word of this curriculum – the purpose behind its development was to offer a free resource to elementary teachers, and my hope is that it will be utilized by many educators and students across our state, region, and beyond!

Rocky Shore Curriculum, Sabbatical

Creating Critters at Andover Elementary

“Imagine visiting the rocky shore off the coast of New Hampshire during low tide and then mysteriously shrinking to a minuscule height of two inches.”

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When posing fantastical situations like this one to a classroom full of third graders, the creative and analytical juices start to flow with incredible force.  Imaginative scenarios can excite and engage students, creating a thirst for knowledge and sparking innovative ideas.

Recently I had the privilege of visiting the third grade classrooms of Andover Elementary Middle School in Andover, New Hampshire.  I presented the storyline above (referencing Ms. Frizzle and her magic bus), and then I posed the following question: What dangers would you face?  The answers that followed either reinforced prior knowledge about the rocky shore, or led to an understanding of the type of chaotic environment rocky shore organisms face every day.

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After our brief discussion of rocky shore challenges, I read a fabulous book, “Between the Tides” by Fran Hodgkins.  This non-fiction book for children does an excellent job of describing several rocky shore creatures and the many characteristics they have that enable them to survive their ecosystem.  It has beautiful illustrations, fantastic yet simple vocabulary, and its length is perfect to be an entertaining read-aloud book.

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With curiosity sparked and knowledge disseminated via Hodgkins’ story, it was time to guide students in what has become one of my favorite activities for elementary students (Lesson 7 & Lesson 19).  Students are asked to use their prior knowledge and ingenuity to “create a critter” which would be able to survive the rocky shore.  This is a life science meets engineering science lesson that can also double as a formative assessment.  Students are only provided with five index cards, scissors and Scotch tape for their creation.

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It is always a wonder to me to see what young minds can come up with in a short amount of time with short notice of their create-a-critter challenge.  The bright and enthusiastic Andover students came up with a variety of incredible creations including combinations of actual rocky shore animals – and one student had the impressive notion of using the tape as an actual sticking agent to help its critter to hold on tight to the rocks!  Everything the students built, in one way or another, reflected their understanding of both the dangers of the rocky shore, and the adaptations animals need to survive this harsh environment.

THANK YOU Mr. Hubbard and Mrs. Peters allowing me to come and visit your classrooms for an afternoon.  It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to spend time with your awesome and intelligent students!

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Collaboration, Rocky Shore Curriculum

Rocky Shore Curriculum Release Date – Friday, April 14th!


It is ALMOST complete!  The Rocky Shore Marine Science Curriculum: An Ecosystem Unit for Elementary Educators will be accessible to anyone, for free, on April 14th.

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I met with Kirsty Walker yesterday, the President of Hobblebush Design, and we thoroughly examined the rocky shore ecosystem curriculum for adjustments that needed to be made.  Kirsty is remarkably talented, and for those who have had the chance to get a sneak peak at the ecosystem unit, they have been extremely impressed with its professional appearance and organization.

The following preparations still need to occur before it is deemed “ready for use”:

  • Complete the Atlantic Ocean Rocky Shore Guide and Life at the Rocky Shore Fact Sheets sections (additions need to be made).
  • Make final modifications to lesson plans based on classroom teachers’ feedback.
  • Have experts in the field of marine science and education examine the curriculum one more time before giving it their final approval.

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This NGSS-aligned, Ocean Literacy Principles-aligned, 7-week ecosystem unit will prove to be a very valuable and helpful resource to all elementary educators who access it.  And one of the coolest features – it will be a “living” document that will be modified from time-to-time to continuously improve it based on teacher and student input.

Lastly, a HUGE thank you to Carol Steingart, President of the Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association (GOMMEA) and owner of Coast Encounters for promoting this curriculum at this week’s National Science Teacher’s Association Sun, Surf and Science conferences in Los Angeles, California.  Your efforts and passion for marine education and conservation are immensely appreciated!

Carol
Carol Steingart, GOMMEA @ 2017 NSTA Conference
Collaboration, Rocky Shore Curriculum

Tuning the Unit – The Rocky Shore Ecosystem Curriculum is Almost Ready for Instruction!

When members of an orchestra tune their instruments before a big concert I imagine there is a high level of anticipatory excitement.  That is exactly how I felt yesterday at the Seacoast Science Center (SSC).

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Radula

I had the fantastic opportunity to spend the entire day with two tremendous employees of the SSC, Kate Leavitt and Sarah Toupin.  The twenty-four lesson, seven-week rocky shore ecosystem unit is complete, but it will not be ready for its debut until a lot of “tuning” has been done.  We spent many hours going over the curriculum with a fine-toothed radula to ensure it aligns extremely well with the Next Generation Science Standards.  If you don’t know what a radula is, you should look it up!

While examining the curriculum we also did something that I was not planning for but am very excited about – we aligned each lesson to the Ocean Literacy Principles.  These seven detailed principles were created by educators from kindergarten through college, researches from multiple ocean science disciplines, education policymakers, science coordinators from departments of education and federal agency representatives involved in education.

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The seven principles were developed to promote ocean literacy: the understanding of the ocean’s influence on humans and our influence on the ocean.  You can find the seven principles HERE.  The correlations between the Next Generation Science Standards and the Ocean Literacy Principles and Concepts can be found HERE.

Besides ensuring that the standards and the lesson content aligned, we also spent a lot of time making necessary revisions to produce a user-friendly document for educators.  A major objective of mine in the creation of this unit is to guarantee teachers that this curriculum will be an easy and enjoyable unit to implement in their classrooms.

 

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The “finished” curriculum should be available at some point in April!  However, my continued hope will be that this FREE ecosystem unit available to all educators will be a “living” document.  As time passes and I receive valuable feedback from educators, necessary improvements will be made to increase the learning experiences of all students participating in the lessons provided by this resource.

A HUGE thanks once again to the Seacoast Science Center for all their collaborative efforts in the development and promotion of this curriculum.

One final question and answer to reflect upon…What did the ocean say to the beachgoers?  Nothing…it just waved.

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Featured Article Image by Adam Kelley
Collaboration, Rocky Shore Curriculum

Collaborating with the SSC Using the NGSS (and more)!

img_4898The rocky shore curriculum I am developing is nearing its final stages, so I recently met with the Seacoast Science Center (SSC) to see how their institution might be able to assist me at this time.  I met with Kate Leavitt, Director of Mission Initiatives, to discuss fine-tuning the curriculum as well as promoting it.

The following ways we are going to collaborate include:

  • Analyzing the entire curriculum to ensure it is user-friendly and standards-based.
    • Kate, Sarah Toupin (School and Group Program Manager) and I will take a day to review each lesson of the curriculum to check for any errors to areas in need of improvement.  We will also us the EQuIP Rubric to provide evidence on the quality and alignment of the rocky shore science unit with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  You can check this rubric out HERE.
  • Promoting the curriculum via SSC website.
    • We will explore various ways the rocky shore curriculum might be able to be accessible via the SSC website so the curriculum can have as much exposure (and get as much use) as possible.
    • Part of the objective of creating the curriculum is to provide elementary school teachers with a free science resource, and advertising its existence as much as possible is very important.
  • Possibly offering webinars to educators and/or science workshops using SSC’s facilities. 
    • SSC has the technology to provide quality distance learning opportunities for educators, and they also have a great onsite room that can be used for teacher or student education – the Gregg Interactive Learning Studio (GILS).  Doing one or both may be in my future.
  • Helping educators who benefit from SSC’s services be aware of the curriculum’s existence. 
    • Whether by handing out flyers or sending out emails, we are considering ways to promote the rocky shore curriculum to educators who visit the SSC for a variety of educational purposes.
  • Gathering more image / illustration resources with the much appreciated help of Karen Provazza, SSC’s Director of Marketing.
    • Karen has been a wonderful, behind-the-scenes help in the development of this curriculum.  Several images and illustrations featured in the curriculum will be from the SSC (and were found and virtually delivered by Karen).

I am so thankful for Kate, Sarah and Karen and the entire SSC staff.  The rocky shore curriculum would be lacking a great deal without their help, and it will prove to be of high quality thanks to their collaborative efforts.  I am also very grateful to their continuous dedication to encouraging ocean literacy and advocating for ocean conservation!

Elementary Science, Rocky Shore Curriculum

Rated 5 out of 5 (Sea) Stars: An Exceptional Educational Resource

img_5815New Hampshire educators have an incredibly valuable resource right at their fingertips.  It is unknown to some, but should be known to all.  Why?  Because it provides quality programs led by experienced and passionate educators at very reasonable costs.  These programs consist of a wide range of topics designed for all age levels – kindergarten through adults.  They provide presentations and hands-on activities that combine to produce meaningful educational experiences.  AND, to top it all off, this resource comes to you!

What is this “sounds too good to be true” resource?  The University of New Hampshire Marine Docent Program.  I know firsthand how great these educational programs can be because our school has hosted their programs and educators for the last decade.  Check out all they have to offer HERE!

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A significant sign of a worthwhile educational institution is one that continuously seeks to improve and adapt to the needs of today’s students and teachers – the UNH Marine Docent Program is one such institution.  I recently had the pleasure of being part of a focus group of teachers who have utilized the docent programs in and outside of our classrooms.  The purpose of our focus group was to provide the docents with feedback regarding the strengths of their program, and what steps we felt they could take to enhance their lessons even more.

The UNH Marine Docent Program’s initiative to improve has three main objectives: 1) to provide programs that utilize best practices for student learning, 2) provide programs that align with the Next Generation Science Standards, and 3) provide avenues for effective integration into the teacher’s curriculum.

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I can assure you that with this new initiative taking place, the UNH Marine Docent Programs will transform from already “great” to “exceptional.”  If you are a NH educator, definitely do yourself a favor and take advantage of one of these programs as soon as possible.

Rocky Shore Curriculum, Sabbatical

Three Pivotal Numbers

Good morning!  I am writing a very brief blog post this morning to celebrate three specific numbers associated with my sabbatical project:

1,000 – Engageyourstudents.org, the website I have created to track the progress of my project’s objectives and to be a home to the complete and published rocky shore curriculum has already reached 1,000 hits!

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4 – This morning I “googled” the following words: rocky shore curriculum. Engageyourstudents.org came up fourth in a list of 117,000 results!

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1 – Although not yet complete, the Rocky Shore Marine Science Curriculum for elementary educators has one complete cover page – special thanks to Adam Kelley (illustrator) and Kirsty Walker (designer) for creating this incredible cover!

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Although I have many more lessons to write, many more schools to visit, and many more objectives to carry out before my sabbatical is through, I find it extremely important to recognize and be thankful for each accomplishment, big or small.