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!


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.


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.

Collaboration, Sabbatical

Behind-the-Scenes: The Unseen Action

craftsMany of my friends who are not teachers often don’t know how to approach the “how is work going” conversation.  They have no clue what elementary teachers do for the most part, just as I have no idea what many of my friends actually do all day.  Assumptions abound, however, regarding the responsibilities of elementary educators – such as the presumption that we are continuously preparing arts and crafts projects.  And my favorite conversation go-to: “You have a vacation coming up, right?”  Right…

There are NUMEROUS behind-the-scene responsibilities of teachers many are not aware of, and I am hoping some big-wig director decides to create a documentary on the day in the life of a teacher someday to inform the unaware.  Until that day, friends, you’ll just have to believe me – professional educators do A LOT more than you might think.

Now on to the objective of this post – to share with you some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of my project that are currently happening:

  • Illustrator Adam Kelley is currently working on the cover page of the rocky shore ecosystem curriculum (the first draft is the featured image of this blog post).
  • Kirsty Walker, president of Hobblebush Design is currently working on formatting the curriculum.
  • Mark Wiley, Assistant Director of Marine Education at UNH is reviewing and revising the curriculum.
  • Kate Leavitt, Director of Mission Initiatives at the Seacoast Science Center and the education team at the SSC is reviewing and revising the curriculum.
  • Corrine Steever, Teacher Services Supervisor at the New England Aquarium is reviewing and revising the curriculum.
  • Pam Castor and Wendy Corbyn, elementary educators from KRES at Bradford, are going to be reviewing and providing feedback on the curriculum.
  • Plymouth State University – I am meeting with student teachers for the third time next week to assist them with science planning and instruction.
  • Keene State College – currently in discussions of how I can assist their student teachers.
  • Franklin Pierce College – currently in discussions of how I can assist their student teachers.
  • New England College – currently preparing a 2017 summer institute course.
  • Hillsboro-Deering School District – in a couple of weeks we are meeting to discuss how I might assist their educators and students.
  • Hopkinton School District – currently in discussions of how I can assist their educators and students.
  • Last but not least…I’m currently working on my twelfth lesson out of twenty-five lessons for the rocky shore ecosystem curriculum I am developing for New Hampshire educators and beyond.

That’s what is currently going on behind-the-scenes with my project, in a “seashell.”

“The Rocky Seashore” by my son, Gabe
Elementary Science, Rocky Shore Curriculum

Why the Rocky Shore?!

Why the rocky shore?  Why learn about the rocky shore?  Why teach about the rocky shore?  Why dedicate an entire year to creating and distributing a curriculum on the rocky shore?  These are questions I have been asked and hope to answer in this succinct article.


Let me first say this: I chose to invest numerous hours after school, during my kids’ practices, after my kids’ bedtimes, on weekends and during holidays for two years to receive the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical.  I did this because I felt very strongly that elementary school teachers need more 1) science curriculum, 2) science professional development, and 3) science instruction at the collegiate level.  I also did this because I felt very strongly that elementary school students need improved science instruction and curriculum.

One way I felt I could assist elementary science educators in New Hampshire and beyond was by creating a quality curriculum at an excellent price (free).  I initially chose the rocky shore because I am knowledgeable about the rocky shore, I love to teach about the rocky shore, and my students have always loved learning about the rocky shore.  And one more thing: almost every grade in elementary school learns about ecosystems.


To be honest, there are a plethora (wanted to fit that word in somewhere) of reasons why I chose the rocky shore, and even more reasons as to why the rocky shore should be taught to all New Hampshire schoolchildren.  But for sake of time, I have compartmentalized all of these reasons into three large categories:

    1. Significance – the rocky shore is an extremely important ecosystem.  The rocky shore is rich with animal life and plant life that impacts mankind in major ways.  Since this is supposed to be a succinct article I’ll be brief: we eat lots of mollusks, crustaceans and fish.  We also consume a lot of seaweed (i.e. ice cream), and use it in many ways, too (i.e. lotion).  Oh, and are you concerned about the rainforest?  Just remember that phytoplankton produces at least 50% of our oxygen!
    2. Relevance – the rocky shore is an ecosystem in New Hampshire.  It is a part of our state, which means we are responsible for it.  The rocky shore is where the land meets the sea, which means it is where the people meet the sea.  It is an ecosystem that is highly susceptible to human contact, and since it is so important to us (above) we should definitely be treating it right.  And out-of-sight may mean out-of-mind, but it certainly doesn’t mean out-of-contact when it comes to the watershed.  Know of a river near you, New Hampshirite?  Yep, that eventually drains into the rocky shore!
    3. Abundance – the rocky shore is an educational paradise.  Here is an incomplete list of a vast quantity of valuable learning topics the rocky shore ecosystem holds: interdependence, competition, adaptation, community, conservation, short term & long term changes, invasive species, photosynthesis, predator-prey relationships and more.  On top of that, the rocky shore is an engaging environment that is accessible to many, so many students not only have the opportunity to learn facts, but to observe facts as well.  And if not, programs like the UNH Marine Docent Program can help.

That is why I chose the rocky shore in a nutshell (seashell).