Understanding the Urban Watershed Teacher Workshop Hands-On Success!

Alex Cooper
Nov 13, 2015

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Teachers from TTF and neighboring watersheds gathered at Abington Friends School to learn the latest in watershed education from TTF and the Fairmount Water Works in late October. Participants included teachers from Cheltenham Elementary School, Richard Allen Preparatory School, Olney Christian School, Finletter Elementary School, and Abington Friends School, as well as educators from the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources and our own Streamkeepers.

This fall, TTF has been busy leading watershed talks at our schoolyard buffers, and teachers are eager to launch their own watershed lessons. The workshop was in response to requests from teachers for more lessons and activities. As schools launch Environmental or Green clubs, watershed education is becoming a regular part of teacher’s curriculum.


TTF provided teachers with the top resources for a range of watershed topics: creating schoolyard habitat, teaching about buffers, biodiversity, water conservation and stream monitoring. Many suburban schools have streams flowing within walking distance, and teachers are discovering their hands-on educational value. Scientific principals being taught can be applied to stream surveys, and the human-waterway relationship is a history and social study lesson.

Our Streamkeeper program has generated information on the creek that students can build upon for science fair and class projects. This was the second TTF workshop for Katherine Falso, who teaches 4th grade teacher at Cheltenham Elementary School. This time, she brought other 4th grade teachers with her to see how they could all get their students to the creek. This team of teachers are now official TTF Streamkeepers with their sights set on monitoring the creek at Parkview Park, just a short walk from the school.

Fairmount Water Works Educator and former Philadelphia School District teacher Rachel Odoroff led teachers through the Understanding the Urban Watershed pilot Curriculum, and even had the teachers perform some activities themselves. Philadelphia watersheds are fortunate to have a national leader in watershed education in our own back yard!


Here’s information from Rachel on Understanding the Urban Watershed Curriculum:

Hello Teachers,

Thank you for participating in Get Your Feet Wet! Understanding the Urban Watershed Workshops for Educators workshop on 10/28.

Here is the pdf file of the pilot curriculum guide designed for middle school students which was developed by teachers in Philadelphia with funding from the William Penn Foundation. (The activity I shared is from this guide, p. 90.) I believe that many of the activities in the guide can be easily adapted for younger or older students.

Teachers and FWW staff and educators worked hard to create this guide, so if you complete any of the lessons with your students, we request that you give us a few sentence feedback by email. We would really like to hear from you about how to make this guide better for teachers and students. (You can send an email to me with a short paragraph about what you did, or I can send a Google survey to you.)

Resourcewater.org has many other valuable resources (videos, websites, literature) and the original curriculum of activity suggestions which may be helpful to those of you with younger students.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Save the date — I hope to see you you at our next workshop on February 25, 2016!

Rachel Odoroff, William Penn Foundation Teacher Fellowship Program Leader
Fairmount Water Works

Stay tuned for our next workshop on February 25 from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm at Cheltenham Elementary School, where we’ll be joined by Fairmount Water Works, Audubon Pennsylvania, The Nature Conservancy, Rails-to Trails, and Briar Bush Nature Center!

Questions? Contact Alex at  cooper@ttfwatershed.org.

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