• Ocean Explorium Connecting Oceans Academy

Connecting Oceans Academy

Ocean Explorium Connecting Oceans Academy

The Ocean Explorium in conjunction with the ECHO program offers teacher professional development workshops and graduate courses.  This video provides an overview of the programs. Although located in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the Ocean Explorium welcomes teachers from all over the country to attend its programs.


The Connecting Oceans Academy (COA) is an exceptional professional development opportunity for elementary and secondary school teachers. COA conducts a series of programs funded by the Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations (ECHO) Program of the United States Department of Education. Programs are offered by the Ocean Explorium at New Bedford Seaport in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for University, School and Community Partnerships.

The Connecting Oceans Academy strives to:

1. provide teaching and learning and curriculum that is research-based;

2. create opportunities for interactive teaching and learning;

3. explore the dynamic connections among the natural environment, commerce, art, science, and history while fostering student pride of place and stewardship of their culture and environment;

4. celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity and inclusion within historic communities in Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Mississippi;

5. build bridges for learning about our history, art, and the natural environment by expanding the presence of our cultural and historical organizations in the community; and

6. provide and ensure effective and equitable access and/or participation in the Connecting Oceans Academy to all teachers.

To learn more about the wonderful learning opportunities offered by the Connecting Oceans Academy click on the video link:


The Connecting Oceans Academy programs are designed to support teachers in meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which requires that teachers have expertise in their content areas. ECHO requires that preference be given to teachers from urban, underserved and high-needs districts.


Basing Instruction on Research

The Connecting Oceans Academy Planning Team--highly experienced classroom teachers--understands the multiple and complex questions confronting teachers of elementary, middle, and high school grades: What is good teaching? Are there instructional strategies that really work? How can teachers meet the individual needs of their students who have varying levels of knowledge and understanding and multiple languages? What is an effective approach to curriculum development? It is these questions and the following research findings that shape the work of the Connecting Oceans Academy.

Good teaching is interactive, engaging, and based on continuous and multiple measures of assessment.

Instructional strategies that really work include:

1. inquiry-based teaching and learning,

2. activating and assessing prior knowledge,

3. the use of graphic organizers and a focus on compare/contrast thinking,

4. the use of models, visualizations, artistic expression, and kinesthetic learning,

5. requiring that students explain their thinking, and

6. content area literacy instruction, particularly in vocabulary and comprehension.

Approaches to teaching and learning that meet the needs of diverse learners 1) use flexible grouping, 2) set clear and challenging expectations that are consistent with students’ current levels of knowledge and understanding, and 3) provide many opportunities for oral language/discussion.

Research to Practice

The Connecting Oceans Academy Staff also recognizes the challenges involved in bridging research findings to classroom practice. Much of that bridge has been constructed by Research for Better Teaching (RBT), a nationally recognized education consulting firm. Their publications and professional development courses provide practical applications of the most robust findings of educational research. The Director of the Connecting Oceans Academy has been a certified instructor of Research for Better Teaching Courses. Connecting Oceans Academy curriculum and professional development offerings incorporate, with permission, many of these “RBT strategies.


For more information and details on any of the COA Content Institute Professional Development PDP Programs or COA/ UMASS Dartmouth Graduate Courses for 2009, check the Ocean Explorium website for details under the Education tab.