Open Courses


Teachers sift through underwater grasses on a professional development trip.

CBF Staff

Logo: Chesapeake Classrooms

Join us for a professional learning adventure.  CBF is offering more than 20 courses that will explore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and local ecosystems throughout the watershed. Each of these courses provides opportunities for online collaboration, outdoor exploration, and independent discovery.  Fear not, you will not be sitting behind a computer all day! Though we will not be learning with you on boats and canoes this summer, we are able to dive into the challenge facing all educators today:  How can we make online learning about your local ecosystem interesting, engaging and meaningful?  

Courses Open to all Educators 

These courses are open to all educators throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed –
Educators from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, and Delaware are welcomed to participate and register for the following courses: 

July 13-September 30, 2020
Watershed Connection: Fostering Inquiry Through Meaningful Contexts
Explore the watershed at your own pace with CBF’s first fully online Chesapeake Classrooms course. Participants from all across the watershed will be provided with resources and guidance to identify and investigate relevant environmental issues in their local contexts and develop an understanding of their connection to other parts of the watershed and the issues facing the Chesapeake Bay. This course models the practice of how student inquiry can lead to civic engagement and action as participants learn to design a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience for their students and connect with local environmental education providers. Water quality testing kits, textbooks, and other course materials will be mailed to each participant, coursework will be completed through CBF’s Google Classroom, and virtual assistance from CBF educators and TELL Mentor teachers will be provided.   

June Courses | July Courses | August Courses


June 22-26, 2020
Mapping Climate Change in the Bay
How does climate change impact the Bay and how do we track and measure these changes over time? Get hands-on experience with one of the latest and most powerful technologies that is on the forefront of these advances—Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—to answer these questions and more. We will explore locations on the eastern shore of Maryland as we look at the impacts of climate change. Participants will leave with knowledge of ways to incorporate GIS into watershed education in their local setting and student MWEEs, how to access and use free interactive GIS resources for students and educators, and tackle seemingly complex learning objectives with more powerful observation tools with your students. This course is supported by a grant from the National Geographic Society.


July 6-10, 2020
Exploring the Ecology of the Bay through Creating Art
How can we deepen our understanding of ecological issues through creating art? Throughout this week-long course, we will use art as a tool to inform our studies of the Chesapeake Bay. Teachers will discover educational resources in their local area and across the watershed. We will delve into the varied connections between art, nature, culture, and history. From the remarkable crafts that helped construct our region to the artful STEAM integrations propelling us into the future, creativity will be the theme of the week. The natural world will be studied in a way that promotes inspiration in each participant, and in turn, their students and community. The entire course will be conducted virtually and is open to all educators, no previous art training required. 

July 6-10, 2020
Baltimore to the Bay: Discover your Watershed and the Bay
How do our Baltimore communities impact the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay? How can your classroom be a part of the story of recovery in the Patapsco River? Investigate these and other questions as this course takes you to explore Baltimore and the Patapsco River watershed. This five-day land-based course blends field experiences with daily online discussions and learning. All field experiences are consistent with CBF social distancing policy. Throughout the course, teachers will be immersed in Chesapeake Bay ecology; hands-on, field-based investigations will cover core ecology and sustainability content as teachers gain a comprehensive understanding of the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience model. Designed for Baltimore area Educators. The course will be conducted remotely but will incorporate outdoor, inquiry-based investigation in your yard, neighborhood or local park.

July 13-17, 2020
A Right to Nature in the City: The Importance of Urban Environmental Education 
Why do certain parts of D.C. look and feel different than others? While environmental issues impact us all, unhealthy air and water pollution are disproportionately concentrated within vulnerable communities in urban areas. For five days, we will explore a cross-section of environmental justice issues impacting D.C area residents and learn how investigating natural systems can help communities and schools create change for a greener, more equitable future. This virtual course is designed to support DCPS and DCPCS transdisciplinary learning goals, as well as classrooms with students who are eager to understand and impact their city! 

July 20-24, 2020
Exploring Place-Based Education in Independent Schools  
How can you use outdoor explorations to create excitement and ownership in your students? Independent school educators across the watershed are using the environment to initiate powerful learning experiences within their communities. The course will be offered online and allow participants to collaborate with their peers and find innovative ways to use the local environment as a context for learning. This five-day online professional learning course models and supports teachers in designing field-based investigations that foster student environmental literacy.  The course will be conducted online but will incorporate outdoor, inquiry-based investigation in your yard, neighborhood, or local park.

July 20-24, 2020
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences in the RVA
How can our decisions in Richmond, Virginia, impact those downstream? How can we inspire and motivate our students to ask good questions, think critically, and be active citizens? This online course will explore the history, ecology, and culture of the James River and the Chesapeake Bay and provide tools and connections for relating this new material to a variety of subjects. After the course, participants will be able to design and implementing a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience for students, increasing their environmental literacy and engaging them in making change in their community. The course will be conducted online but will incorporate outdoor, inquiry-based investigation in your yard, neighborhood, or local park. This course is open to all Central Virginia teachers. 

July 27-31, 2020
Teachers on the Estuary: Scientific Inquiry in the Field
How can we make the curriculum come alive with real-time data? Learn to integrate local and national environmental data into the classroom through cross-disciplinary, hands-on field activities from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Chesapeake Exploration and Estuaries 101 curricula. How can we make the curriculum come alive with real data collected by both students and environmental science professionals from throughout the watershed address real questions? Learn to integrate local and national environmental data into the classroom through cross-disciplinary, hands-on field activities, and online resources from NOAA’s curricula. This dynamic online course will ask you to take your learning outside to conduct investigations of your local environment. Investigations will be supported/facilitated by community leaders, scientists, and educators from NOAA and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. This course is designed to model a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) through participant-driven field experiences and authentic research. While the course will be conducted remotely, it will incorporate outdoor, inquiry-based investigations in your yard and community when possible. A $200 MWEE implementation support fund is available to each participant upon completion of all course requirements. Note: We will be accessing online data and resources that require a desktop or laptop computer—not a tablet or smartphone—and reliable internet.   

July 27-31, 2020
Learning and Action: Environmental Education in Prince Georges County 
How can environmental learning enhance your classroom teaching? Join us for five days of virtual learning as we explore how to deepen student understanding of environmental justice issues through experiential learning. Participants will explore a cross-section of environmental justice issues impacting Prince Georges County residents and learn how investigating natural ecosystems can help communities and schools create change for a greener, more equitable future. Science, history, and social issues will come to life as teachers use an environmental justice lens to investigate the relationships between human and natural systems. This course is designed to support interdisciplinary learning from K-12, as well as aspiring and renewing Green Schools! 


August 11-12, 2020
Workboats, Tractors, Rivers, and Farms: Exploring History, Agriculture and Ecology in Southside Virginia  
In this two-day workshop, teachers will investigate agriculture practices and the water quality of the James River and the Chesapeake Bay. Teachers will explore the local history of the James River, hear first-hand from farmers, and learn to use the environment as an integrated context for learning in their classrooms. Course participants will meet virtually each day for collaboration and guided discussion then complete inquiry-based investigations in their yards, neighborhoods, or local parks. 

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