The Upper Valley Teaching Place Conference is an opportunity for educators to come together to learn from and share with one another about their challenges and successes doing place-based ecology education in Vermont & New Hampshire’s Upper Connecticut River Valley.

November 1, 2019
Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, Vermont

Cost is $40 
Certificates of attendance will be provided.
All participants will receive a copy of Northern Woodland’s “The Outside Story


Please find our conference agenda below!

Download the agenda here!

Our 2019 keynote speaker is David Sobel

David Sobel has written extensively on the topic of children and hands-on education and play in nature. His numerous books—from Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors to Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities and to Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators, plus other works focusing on different age levels—offer parents and teachers insights into the value, appeal, and techniques of outdoor experiences for personal, physical, and social growth. Sobel is a Professor Emeritus in the Education Department at Antioch University New England. He consults and lectures nationally and internationally on place-based education, children’s relationship with nature and nature-based early childhood education.

Learn more about David Sobel's work




Friday, November 1, 2019

Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, Vermont



Registration, coffee, and tea





Putting the Upper Valley Back into Upper Valley Students

David Sobel, Author & Professor Emeritus, Antioch University New England

By grounding curriculum in local places, people, and culture, teachers increase students’ motivation for learning, help raise test scores and develop students’ commitment to serving as active citizens.

Vermont and New Hampshire schools have the potential to ground their students in the cultural heritage of northern New England.  Across both states, teachers are exploring ways to connect their pre-K thru 12th grade students to the uniqueness of this place they call home.

From Forest Days in Vermont early grades to turning school inside out in a New Hampshire K-8 school, David will share inspiring stories of how Vermont and New Hampshire schools are creating citizens of the future.





Snacks, coffee, and tea in lobby


9:30AM- 11AM



Real Tools, Real Benefits

Jennifer Newberry & Ashley Morse, Marion Cross School

Target grade level: Pre-k – 2

Have you ever tried to cut an apple with a plastic fork? Real tools give real results. With intentional teaching about how to use real tools (hammers, hand drills, says, files, peelers, etc.) children can improve their eye hand coordination, increase confidence, improve safety awareness and risk assessment skills and practice self-regulation. This workshop will explore the difference between hazards and risks, outline safety rules and routines, discuss all the possible applications, and get to work using the tools yourself.


Building Resilience with Cross-cutting Compost Curriculum

Cat Buxton, Grow More Waste Less & Soil Carbon Coalition

Target grade level: K-12

The Thetford Elementary School compost system engages students in real world problem solving: reducing waste, building healthy soil, managing storm water and understanding how soil health affects landscape function and overall ecosystem health. Data students collect is the base for cross-cutting PBE, adaptable for K – 12.

Evaluation 102: Collecting & Using Story Data to Tell Your Story

Michael Duffin, PEER Associates

Target grade level: K-12 and administrators

Join Michael to gain confidence in capacity to use data to advocate for their PBE work. We will talk in general about what makes qualitative data compelling for decisions and actions. The session will be hands-on practice with a couple of simple methods for collecting and analyzing non-number data from and about students. Activities will mostly be structured as small groups generating data, insights, and questions to be shared and discussed with the larger group.


Nature Printing

Coleen O’Connell, Lesley University

Target grade level: K-12

Pre-registration required. Cost is $10. Limited to 12 participants.

In this workshop, you will do two types of nature printing that can be done with students – watercolor foot press printing to reveal hidden treasures and a direct ink printing technique. Come prepared to relax, be creative and have fun.


Slow Birding for Educators

Bridget Butler, the Bird Diva

Target grade level: K-12

Bird Diva Bridget Butler will share the practice of Slow Birding and how you can awaken your innate birding skills and reconnect with nature. She’ll share a variety of techniques that will help you look at birds, listen to them and interpret their behavior that will not only build your skills as a naturalist, but will provide you with a practice that will allow you to slow down and reconnect with the natural world.


Linking Lands Alliance Maps for Vermont Educators

Karen Douville, Linking Lands Alliance

Target grade level: 4-12

In this interactive session Karen will introduce maps developed by the Linking Lands Alliance and have several activities to familiarize teachers with the maps, showcase LLA’s website with many more resources for teachers, including NGSS designed Teacher Workbook to help teachers utilize LLA’s maps with their curricula, then have a brainstorming session to get teachers’ ideas on using the maps in their classes.


Teaching on the Trail: Group Management on the Go

Maggie Stoudnor & Page Radney, Rivendell Interstate School District

Target grade level: 5-8

This session will involve reviewing best practices for keeping groups of students safe on adventures that take us hiking on trails and share and practice group management strategies that keep students motivated, having fun and learning.


BioBlitz 101

Zac Cota, North Branch Nature Center

Target grade level: 8-12

Schoolyard bioblitzes provide a unique opportunity to engage students in the scientific process and spark inquiry into the natural world. We’ll cover the process of planning a bioblitz, showcase some of the resources available to educators, and share some early results from area high schools that have already held these events.





Snacks, coffee, and tea in lobby






Student Voice in Place-based Ecology Education

We think PBEE is great, but what do students think? How has it changed their experience of school? What do they like about it? What would they change and what do they want their teachers and administrators to know about it?

Students from Thetford Academy and The Lyme School will reflect on these questions and share some of their favorite PBEE work over the years.







By invitation only. Please contact coordinator@uvtpc.org for more info.

The theme for this symposium will be Turning School Inside Out with a focus on the promises and challenges of whole school nature- and place-based education initiatives.





Growing Outdoor Classrooms

April Zajko, April’s Teaching Tree

Target grade level: Pre-k-8

Are you ready to transform your current outdoor space but are not sure where to begin? Join us to explore effective ways to organize your outdoor learning area to foster growth and development for all ages from toddler to tween. We will examine how the planning and designing phase of can help programs foster a full range of children’s play including dramatic play, gross motor, small world play, art, loose part exploration, music & movement, construction, and science & nature. Be inspired through photographs from a wide range of programs with practical and cost-effective ways that you will be able to implement right away! Participants will create an over-sized vision board that illustrates what currently exists and what they would like to add in the future. This tool will be brought back to their programs to get buy in from other staff and community members. Participants will learn a five-step plan for gathering support from their community in growing their outdoor classrooms.


Students Teaching Students

Scott Ellis, Thetford Academy & Trish Gautreau, The Lyme School

Target grade level: K-12

There is deep value in the experience of students sharing their work and teaching other students. In this session, Scott, Trish, and their students will show models of how students are working with other UV schools to share what they have learned through their place-based ecology education efforts. Examples of opportunities to bring students together like the PBEE celebration, the VINS science symposium, and guided Valley Quests will be discussed. Students will also talk about their experience teaching and presenting lessons. The session will end with participants collaborating to find opportunities to bring students together.


Nature Printing

Coleen O’Connell, Lesley University

Target grade level: K-12

Pre-registration required. Cost is $10. Limited to 12 participants.

In this workshop, you will do two types of nature printing that can be done with students – watercolor foot press printing to reveal hidden treasures and a direct ink printing technique.  Come prepared to relax, be creative and have fun.


Transferring Lessons from 50 Years of Nature Instruction at Camp Pemigewassett to the Classroom

Laurence Davis, PhD., Camp Pemigewassett

Target Grade Level: 3-12

We have taught about nature at Pemi for over 92 years. I have just completed my 50th year as head of the program. We have developed techniques and lesson plans that are science-based, holistic, informal, and curiosity-driven, emphasizing hands-on experiences. In the session, we will discuss our approach, present sample lesson plans on non-flowering plants and rocks, and then consider, with participant input, how some of our techniques might be applied in the more formal school setting.


Using Valley Quests as a Tool for Discovery & Learning

Beth Roy, Upper Valley Farm to School

Target grade level: 3-12

Valley Quests are community-based treasure hunts the are used as a teaching tool to connect students to their own community while engaging in a hands-on learning. During this workshop we will introduce participants to the Valley Quest Program and review its’ use as a learning tool. We will then go on a short Quest in the area exploring first-hand the way Quests can teach as well as lead us to new discoveries. We will also have time to break into small groups and start to discuss how this type of learning model could be used in our classroom or community.


Using Community Problems to Drive Curriculum

Michelle Amato, VINS & Vanessa Stern, Nature Museum at Grafton

Target grade level: 4-12

This workshop will take teachers through a guided process of a Project and Place-based Learning unit in their classroom. Using an exemplar model from a local classroom, we will: discover how to identify a local issue in the community and develop a Driving Question; explore various data collection techniques; and learn new ways to organize, display and communicate information to an audience. The workshop will include large and small group discussions, and activities to practice tools and techniques from the perspectives of both the student and the teacher. Teachers will walk away with tools they can use immediately in their classroom and will have access to handouts after the conference via Google Drive.


Keeping Secondary Level PBEE Primary

Kat Robbins, Woodstock Union High School and NPS & Sam DeCuollo, WUHS

Target grade level: 9-12

This workshop will give educators working at the 7-12 grade levels a chance to come together and share challenges, successes, and solutions to working with older students, community partners, and in the construct of our schools to effectively do place-based education.




Snacks, coffee, and tea in lobby




Join us to learn more about the Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative, its five Working Groups, and how you can get more involved in creating an Upper Valley where all students are deeply engaged in education that fosters ecological understanding and connection to place.




"As always, I loved being with curious, dedicated, like-minded but diverse educators. It's a fantastic "reboot" to the soul to be able to collaborate with others who share the importance of teaching the values of ecology, systems, and respectful living among humans and other species."
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"This was a wonderful opportunity for folks to get together and do real meaningful work! It was inspiring and exciting!"
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"This was my first year attending the conference. It was exciting and inspiring. I walked away with a 'backpack' full of new resources and ideas!"
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