Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Educator Resources & Professional Development

Virtual Options While at Home

Tips for Creating Distance Learning Experiences

The BEETLES program at the Lawrence Hall of Science has creating some Principles to Guide Design of Outdoor Science and Environmental Education Distance Learning Experiences. These build off of their resource, Creating Effective Outdoor Science Activities.

Edutopia has a great article by a teacher on "How to Forge a Strong Community in an Online Classroom" that parents and teachers may take tips & helpful hints from.

Think Inclusive has a blog post Co-teaching In an Age of Remote Learning with a focus on special education and general education tips.

Catapult Innovation Labs gathered leaders to host a webinar on "Hmmm.... How to Lead Your Team, Remotely?".

TASH Distance Learning has a great YouTube video and Padlet of resources on "Educators Share Distance Learning Strategies for Students with Significant Support Needs". (There are other padlets full of other great distance learning resources, too!)

Professional Development Opportunities

Project Learning Tree's E-Units: if you are a formal teacher* in NYState, please contact the NYS Coordinator, Betsy Ukeritis, to discuss access to K-2nd grade; 3rd-5th grade; or 6th-8th grade E-unit online opportunities. These links are to provide an overview, if you are interested in the online training, please reach out to Betsy at either or 315-314-0768 (Before you purchase them). *NOTE: I say formal teacher for these because they are truly tied to in-class learning and correlated to learning standards.

BEETLES has a series of Professional Learning Opportunities for lead staff, programs, and organizations to help inspire a learning culture with their staff.

Green Teacher's free webinars are available for up to 30 days after the date of the webinar. There are three in April: April 1st on Art & Science of Teaching Climate Change; April 8th on Joy of Garden-based Education; and April 29th on Earth Partnership: Indigenous Arts & Sciences: Connecting STEM to Indigenous Science. (After 30 days, they are available to Green Teacher subscribers.)

National Wildlife Federation, Project WILD, and Project WET's Earth Day 50 Climate Change Course, a free, self-paced online course. This course is will be available through June.

National Geographic has online professional development courses on a number of topics.

North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) virtual PD options and webinars listing.

The NARST 2020 Annual Conference was cancelled (NARST is a worldwide organization for improving science teaching and learning through research) so the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) put the presentations from the Science Learning in Informal Context Strand online. You can view them as PDFs on the CAISE website. CAISE also correlated a list of resources for learning and supporting educators.

Children & Nature Network has a library of archived webinars that educators can watch on a number of topics.

City Parks Alliance has been pulling together webinars and resources for urban park professionals, including educators, and you can view older ones.

The National Center on Accessible Education Materials has a series of webinars to help caregivers, parents, and teachers with accessibility for special needs and distance learning. You can return to older webinars and watch the videos.

Mercy College's Center for STEM Education has a host of online Professional Development, including remote learning platforms in this new age of distance / remote learning world. And a STEM Resources library of free online resources.

Center for Environmental Literacy (CELF) now has online learning Education for Sustainability sessions for caregivers, in-classroom teachers, and non-formal educators along with online teacher tools & lessons spanning Kindergarten through High School.

Beyond Benign, a non-profit organization in partnership with New York State Pollution Prevention Institute that empowers students and educators in things related to greening chemistry, offers online green chemistry courses for high school science teachers. They have a list of Green Chemistry virtual resources from Beyond Benign and partners to continue to explore green chemistry with students of all ages, K-12 and higher ed!

Lesson Plans & Resources

Maricopa County Air Quality Department in Arizona has some fantastic Air Quality Lesson plans & activities by grade band and even an online class for 6th-12th grade!

University of California at Davis's Center for Community & Citizen Science has a great page of resources & research on Youth-focused Community & Citizen Science. You can learn more about our findings and recommendations at Key Practices and Resources. Delve into YCCS practices in the project Case Studies, and explore a range of projects that people are doing with youth in the "Explore Projects" tool.

Edutopia has a great article on student engagement with remote learning, "Keeping Students with Learning Disabilities Motivated at Home".

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has Classroom resources in sciences and engineering.

Outdoor Classroom Day Organization may be based in the United Kingdom, but they have participants from the US and all over the world. Their resources, activities, and materials are helpful to US educators.

Think Indigenous has created a YouTube channel where Indigenous educators, elders, and knowledge keepers are continuing to share their knowledge with students, focused on K-8th grade.

National Environmental Education Foundation has a Greening STEM Hub to help educators add nature and outside learning into STEM education.

The US Botanic Garden, working with City Blossoms and National Center for Appropriate Technology, created a Greenhouse Manual for Educators; this manual helps educators integrate greenhouses into their curriculum during both in-school and out-of-school times. There are lesson plans, basics of operating a greenhouse, tips for growing from seeds, IDing and treating common diseases and pest management in greenhouses, and even covers basic budgeting!

North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has a listing of resources for educators and caregivers that is updated on a semi-regular basis including resources about the virus and how viruses spread... but is also a great resource to mine for giant lists of even more activities, resources, and at-home things to do. NAAEE also has a page for COVID19 Resources, Tips, and Support for everyone: teachers working in a distance learning world, caregivers suddenly teaching their children and working from home and sharing a computer, even older students learning from home.

North Carolina Environmental Education has a giant, searchable database of online resources and programs. If you search for "COVID-19 Educational Support", all the resources are on-line.

California Academy of Sciences has a series of Science Lesson Plans available online.

Lawrence Hall of Science's MARE program has online lessons and resources in marine and ocean literacy.

NOAA's Ship Okeanos Explorer has education materials for Grades 6-12 online.

Looking for resources (and help!) for Virtual Museum Resources, E-Learning, & Online Collections? MCN pretty much has the digital archive for all of it, along with portals that can offer help.

And PBS Learning Media has Virtual Field Trips for Elementary grades, including a hospital, airport, science museum, etc. WNET out of NYC has some great staff picks for educator resources! has a whole section to help educators: resources, field trips, and professional development.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Education created a Virtual NOAA resources booth for resources it would have brought to the National Science Teaching Association conference (the conference was cancelled). NOAA Education has lessons & activities, books & posters, and teaching guides. Don't forget the additional links: along the right (desktop or laptop) or along the bottom (mobile device).

National Wildlife Federation's Lesson Plans by Topics with Grade Levels are free. They also have webinars at the bottom of the page, you might want to check out the BATS! series.

Project WET has created a page for their Educator Online Trainings and it includes some free, at-home learning opportunities.

For educators (& caregivers) of young parents, WXXI has curated a list of online teaching resources. Including virtual learning events through PBS Learning Media.

Children & Nature Network Natural Teachers Network eGuide, Grow Outside Tool Kit, and Natural Leaders Network Tool Kit (in English and Spanish) on their Guides & Tool Kits page.

Watershed Public School, an environmental arts school in Baltimore County, Maryland, created a distance learning resource page with outdoor projects, integrated projects, physical education using the outdoors, how to hold morning meetings, innovation labs, and more.

Wondering how to create a lesson plan for students to take a Virtual Field Trip? ReadWriteThink has a lesson plan already created for 3rd - 5th grade.

World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has weekly activity plans to help educators and caregivers keep youth in grades 3rd thru 8th learning.

Inside Education has created new and easily accessible activities and online resources teachers can pass along directly to their students They have instructions, handouts, and even assessments. It is by grade level.

The Real Time Curriculum Project, created by Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, a National Geographic Fellow, is a project that curates relevant content across the internet, connects educators to engaging discussions, and provides opportunities for educators to contribute their own lessons on current events, as they are integrating them into their classrooms.

Resources & Research on Including Nature in Learning in Out-of-School & In-school Times

National Recreation & Park Association has a great report on Out-of-School Time Report and findings that came out of the report.

World Urban Parks created great resources on the important of parks, open spaces, and nature, especially related to health.

Children & Nature Network has a great article on how libraries are helping communities find and explore nature.