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Teacher Institute Courses

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The Western Teacher Institute prides itself in providing engaging, collaborative activities for our attendees – both inside class and out.

During your time on campus, on regular business days, we will host complimentary coffee and snacks at 10:30am and an afternoon snack time at 2:30pm.

Additionally, we love to schedule several informal gatherings during the Teacher Institute. Keep an eye out for sign-ups at snack tables while you are here.

If you are interested in on-campus housing, please click here for more information. Additionally, we will provide suggestions and options for off-campus housing and camping locations.

June 2023 Course Catalog

Please see below for our past offerings at the Teacher Institute in June 2023.  The course catalog for 2024 will change but check out what was offered last year!

Discounted Rate for Credits (Early Bird Cost)

The Ann Zugelder Endowment provides funds that have allowed Western Colorado University to expand initiatives in offering graduate credit courses for teachers. This discounted rate is the “early bird rate” within the course catalog and registration page.  It is available on a first come fist served basis until the endowment amount has been reached for the year. After this, credits will be offered at the full rate.   If you have any questions about the endowment and/or discounts please contact teacherinstitute@western.edu

Call of the Wild: An Introduction to Outdoor Education

Curt Davidson, Ph.D.
ROE 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +$10 Fee
Monday June 5 – Wednesday June 7 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

Outdoor and experiential education have long been shown to be powerful and impactful learning experiences for all ages. However, facilitating these experiences in traditional school settings can be challenging for teachers. This course empowers the educator of any subject to utilize and explore outdoor and experiential education. Students will examine foundations, concepts, and practical applications for outdoor education and the application of these modalities for K-12 educators. This course will begin by reviewing the history of outdoor education and exploring the foundational concepts relevant to high-impact learning through outdoor education. Next, special attention will be given to applying these concepts in the K-12 setting, including planning, risk management, and developing lesson plans. This course will primarily utilize outdoor and experiential modalities such as hiking and exploring during experiential learning components in and around the Gunnison area.

Creating Community Through Art

WCU Art Department Faculty
ART 510; 1 credit; $40
Monday June 5 – Tuesday June 6 (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Audience: K-12 Art Teachers

Are you a secondary or K-12 art teacher? This course brings art teachers together to learn from each other and multiple Western art professors in a variety of different mediums. Experiential learning in watercolor, ceramics, printmaking, drawing, and design will be introduced for all levels of learning. Additionally, new mediums, techniques, and teaching strategies will be introduced to take back into the K-12 classroom. This course will take place in a variety of Western Department of Art and Design facilities and will incorporate field trips into the beautiful Gunnison County. This course is offered at $40 with the help of a grant from Western Department of Art & Design. Please contact Tina Butterfield, tbutterfield@western.edu, to learn more about the scholarships that are available.

Creepy, Crawly, Slimy! Teaching with Scientific Phenomena

Loraine Glidewell
EDUC 510; 1 credit; Early Bird Price $102; Full Price $170, +$15 fee
Monday June 5 – Tuesday June 6 (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Audience: Elementary, Secondary Educators

Have you ever wondered, “What is a scientific phenomenon and how in the world do I use it to design lessons?” Then this class is for you! We will lean into the complex and beautiful world of insects and fish to explore phenomenon-driven teaching. Each day will begin by immersing teachers in an example of a phenomenon-driven lesson. This immersive example will be followed by collaborative workshop time for teachers to grow their understanding of scientific phenomena and to apply their learning to create their own phenomenon-driven lesson.  Afternoons will conclude with a related field experience that will take our learning outside of the classroom, build community, and serve as a model that can be replicated with students. The first day will focus on creepy, crawly insects and our field experience will be a trip to Hartman Rocks to see, touch, and learn about them! The second day will focus on slimy fish and our field experience will be a trip to the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery to see, touch, and learn about them! Teachers should leave this course with a new appreciation for insects and fish, two phenomenon-driven lessons that are classroom-ready, and NGSS-aligned tools for designing phenomenon-driven lessons and field experiences for future instruction. This course will use a 5-dimensional approach, which in addition to DCIs (1), CCCs (2) and SEPs (3), student interest and identity (4 & 5) will also be considered essential for our lesson designs.

Fun with CLD Literacy

Karen Hausdoerffer & Rita Merrigan
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340
Monday June 5 – Wednesday June 7 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: Elementary, Secondary, K-12, SPED, CLD

This course offers active hands-on strategies to make literacy fun and engaging for kids of all ages and backgrounds, particularly CLD learners. The class offers a survey of some recent diverse literature and ideas on how to integrate more diverse literature into the classroom. Participants will try out games, classroom structures, discussion formats, art projects, and theatre games to enliven literature for CLD students. We will also talk about contemporary cultural issues around inclusion. Participants will bring their own ideas for adapting these strategies to each unique learning setting. Everyone should come willing to move around, laugh, act, take risks, share, and have fun together.

Trauma-sensitive Teaching for Special and General Education Teachers 

Tara Mason, Ph.D.
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340
Monday June 5 – Wednesday June 7 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: Elementary, Secondary, K-12, SPED, Administrators, Counselors

Let’s create arts-based reflections together to talk about the tough stuff that trauma may bring to our classrooms. As educators, it can be challenging to support students who may have experienced trauma and the negative impacts of poverty. Research suggests that more than 68% of all school-aged children have experienced, or are experiencing, some form of trauma (Pappano, 2014). It can feel overwhelming to consider how we can meet the needs of our students who may have these negative experiences. This course uses arts-based creation to talk about these tough issues head-on and devises practical strategies to use in your teaching practices! Through the lens of teaching in differentiated classrooms, this course focuses on trauma-sensitive classes and provides practical tips, creativity, and guidance for teachers to use in their K-12 classroom (through a teaching lens instead of as a mental health professional). The purpose of this course is to (1) present an overview of childhood trauma types, effects, and research related to trauma-sensitive instruction, (2) suggest arts-based activities, mindfulness, and movement strategies for supporting students who are experiencing the impact of trauma; and (3) design teaching supports for trauma-sensitive classroom culture. This course meets the new CDE requirement related to HB 20-1128 and HB 20-1312 indicating that all CO educators and administrators complete 10 professional development contact hours of training in special education and behavioral health. Course participants can document completing this requirement for licensure renewal via transcript or be supplied certificate from instructor.

American Sign Language

Karen Immerso
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340
Thursday, June 8 – Saturday, June 10 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

American Sign Language (ASL), a foreign language, community language, or language of instruction, is offered for those with both a personal and professional interest in new communication skills. Beyond general body language awareness, this ASL class will include basic signs, sentence structure, finger spelling and receptive skills. We will explore the cultural aspects of working with a Deaf and hard of hearing population and adaptations of ASL for special needs students. This is a truly fun “hands-on” learning experience.

Executive Function Skills – The Keys to Successful Learning and Life

Heather Trezise
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +$5 Fee
Thursday, June 8 – Saturday, June 10 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

You know these students: the student who lost his homework or the student who is always late. These children are the “poster children” for Executive Function (EF) struggles. But EF struggles also look like the child who has never played in a different center at Free Choice Time, the child who can’t line up her numbers to solve a math problem, the child who struggles with reading comprehension, the child who gets angry at every writing time, or the child who distracts the class. EF skills influence how we learn vocabulary, how we remember facts, and how we function in the world. This class will discuss EF development from birth to grade 12, and beyond. You will learn about EF skills and the role they play in your students’ lives and learning. You will be able to assess and identify students’ EF strengths and weaknesses, implement strategies to support EF development for individuals, and create EF lessons for your classroom. You will design an EF portfolio that includes resources and strategies for you to use for years to come. Executive Function skills ARE the keys to successful learning and life.

Math, Physics, and Engineering Activities: Big Fun, Small Budget

John Mason, Ph.D.
PHYS 510; 1 credit; Early Bird Price $102; Full Price $170, +10 materials fee
Friday June 9 – Saturday June 10 (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Audience: Elementary, Secondary, K-12

Participants in this course will learn 15 classic fun hands-on activities that address learning goals from the Math, Physics, and Engineering disciplines. Each activity can be supplied with low budget equipment costing no more than about a of dollar per student and much of the materials are typically already stocked at K-12 schools. Topics include energy, center of mass, multiplication tables, adding/subtracting, engineering design, static electricity, magnetism, optics, and many more. Be prepared to leave this course with fun hands-on lessons that can be incorporated easily into a K-12 classroom.

Outdoor Citizenry: Engagement, Skills, Connection & LNT

Molly Murfee
ENVS 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +$10 Fee
Thursday, June 8 – Saturday, June 10 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

Become an engaged, connected steward of nature and teach others to be the same! Through daily hiking excursions, you will acquire outdoor skills for safe and ethical backcountry travel, including learning the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. Additionally, you will learn to nurture a relationship to place by learning natural history, plant and animal identification, and how to relax into nature on the trail. Any participant looking to connect to nature for self-rejuvenation, learn outdoor skills for personal fulfillment, or teach these concepts to students, will find inspiration here. Outdoor skills include learning the perfect equipment to bring in a daypack, what a first aid kit should contain, confidence in navigation and reading maps, and more. Additionally, tucked inside this course is a Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop. Here, participants learn how to reduce physical impacts on the landscape through proper trail etiquette, how to choose the best lunch site, how to preserve flora and fauna, the proper “toilet” practices, how to deal with trash, how to preserve water quality, and more. Throughout the course, participants actively work with field guides to identify flora and fauna, and engage in meditation, journaling, and creative writing activities for connecting to nature. Each day includes hiking, journaling and meditation, as well as independent research and practice teaching activities in the four focus areas age-appropriate for your classroom (LNT, outdoor skills, natural history, and nature connection). At the end of this field-based course, participants will receive a “Leave No Trace Outdoor Awareness Certificate,” as well as a treasure chest full of LNT, outdoor skills, and connecting-to-nature activities for your classroom.

Brain, Body, Connections!

Angie Carroll
ESS 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +$5 Fee
Monday June 12 – Wednesday June 14 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

This course will provide information and activities to increase and support brain and body connectivity in the classroom. This will include ways to incorporate positive movement and arts education tools for whole-body wellness, tools to activate the brain to be ready to learn, ways to support active and kinesthetic learners, and information on teaching styles that incorporate inclusive experiential education. Goals for the course include finding inspiration for curriculum and classroom techniques that foster students to support their well-being, find their rhythm, calm their body, and ignite their brain for learning! The course will be taught by exercise physiologist, Angela Carroll, who is also a long-time educator and has worked extensively in early childhood, outdoor, cultural arts and movement education. Alternative concepts of ways to approach experiential education and how to incorporate it into the classroom will be a focus during the course. This will include tools teachers can bring back to the classroom like specific brain activating movements, innovative ways to further integrate arts and music into the classroom, including percussion and other rhythmic teaching tools, and additional perspective on the kinesthetic learner in the traditional classroom. The other focus of the course will be looking at ways to address and support all the realms of wellness for students and teachers in the classroom, teaching tools and approaches to encourage well-being in educational environments.

Creative Nature Journaling Second Edition

Rain Bodine
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +5 Fee
Monday June 12 – Wednesday June 14 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

This course is the second edition of a book and field study on Teaching Nature Journaling. The book study is an exploration of The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, by John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren. Through field trips, outdoor walks, and hands-on activities, this course will focus on scientific observation, creative interpretations and written reflections. Participants will have prompts and time to record their own personal observations and reflections in their own journals. The instructor will introduce several techniques each day that can creatively enhance observational writing with visual side bars and textural interludes through the platform of journaling. Some of the techniques include scientific illustration and labeling, as well as watercolor, washes, dry brush, resists, collage, pen and ink, and graphite. We will have a field trip each day to enjoy the surroundings of Gunnison and be inspired by landscapes, detailed scenery, and fresh air!

Learning by Doing: Doing what works for English Learners

Casey Richardson Ph.D.
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +$10Fee
Monday June 12 – Wednesday June 14 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

All students in the U.S. are academic English learners. In this interactive 3-day course, participants will earn hours in culturally and linguistically diverse education for use in their English learner professional learning standards matrix required for license renewal. Day 1 begins with field trips to explore histories of migration to the U.S., Colorado, and the Gunnison Valley, inclusive of an investigation into education and language policies that influence the schooling of English learners. Day 2 centers literacy through various modalities e.g., children’s books and social media texts, in which participants will experience as students and create for their students a culturally responsive lesson/unit utilizing authentic texts appropriate for their students’ grade and proficiency levels. Day 3 concludes with participants collaborating and implementing diverse (language) teaching approaches and methods to experiment with new pedagogical practices, which support the learning of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Resilient Colorado: Natural Hazards Education for Secondary Science and Social Studies Classrooms

Katya Schloesser
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Free (funded by a NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant)
Monday June 12 – Wednesday June 14 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: Secondary Science, Social Studies

We invite secondary earth and environmental science, civics, and social studies teachers to learn a new place-based, NGSS-aligned science curriculum on natural hazards. The curricular unit includes a lesson on natural hazards (wildfire, flood, or drought) that uses current Colorado case studies and local datasets, a scenario-based role-play game, and a project-based learning unit for students to take action to make their community more resilient. Instructional strategies include community-engaged learning, gamification, and design thinking. Additionally, the workshop will include a field trip to conduct an environmental hazard inventory in Gunnison and get an experiential perspective of natural hazard mitigation and planning. The CIRES Education and Outreach team at CU Boulder developed the curriculum, which is part of a program called the Hazard Education Awareness and Resilience Task (HEART) Force. HEART Force is funded by a NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant and is designed specifically for rural Colorado classrooms to increase students’ understanding of natural hazards and community preparedness, and encourages students to take action to increase their community’s resilience to natural hazards. The grant covers registration for this course, and it provides an optional stipend for teachers who would like to teach the curriculum and hold a community resilience expo in their community. Expect to dig into local issues relevant to your community in this course and to learn from educators from around the state in a growing community of practice!

Spanish Language Learning

Karen Immerso
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +$5 Fee
Monday June 12 – Wednesday June 14 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

Using activities and conversation, we will study and speak the Spanish language at a beginner level. This is an active approach for those wanting enough Spanish speaking skills to interact with students and parents in basic conversations. Vocabulary, use of verbs and verb tenses, listening and comprehension, and practice communicating will be covered. Within an interactive learning environment, the curricular use of experiential learning activities for classrooms will be modeled. This is intended for never-ever Spanish language learners or those wanting a basic review in the language.

Rivers of the West: Colorado Water and Rivers Exploration

Sarah Johnson
ENVS 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +$20 Fee
Thursday, June 15 – Saturday June 17 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: Elementary and Secondary Educators

Learn how to integrate rivers and riparian habitat and the complexities of water management in the West into your curriculum through cross-curricular field and classroom learning observing phenomenon, authentic explorations, discussions, and reflection routines. Resources and teaching tools will be utilized from the Library of Congress teaching tools, Project WET: Discover A Watershed, BEETLES Project, CSU’s Writing Water, Denver Water’s Water Education Resource Guide, and others. Field experiences will include visiting local reservoirs, water infrastructure projects, and riverside parks. Students will choose three final course projects from a menu: going out and exploring rivers near their homes, creating a local field trip map, current news articles responses, creating a teaching plan, citizen science data collecting with iNaturalist, and NASA GLOBE Observer.

STEAM Games, Activities, and Challenges for the Classroom and Beyond!

Rain Bodine
EDUC 510; 2 credits; Early Bird Price $204; Full Price $340, +$10 materials fee
Thursday, June 15 – Saturday June 17 (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Audience: All levels & types of educators

STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math create a foundation for full engagement with hands-on learning! This class will give students the opportunity to experiment with a variety of STEAM Stations: Games, Picasso tiles, Magformers, Geoboards, Gravitrax, Light Bright, QBA Mazes, Marble Runs, and Spirographs. Activities include: Cubelets, Spheros, Dash and Dot coding robotics, Tessellations, Tangrams, Circuitry, DC3 motors, and 3D Pens.  Challenges include: Conductive and Insulating Dough for light up sculptures, Lego Bridges, 100 stick challenge, and Not a Box project. Students will leave this class excited and inspired with skills to bring more STEAM activities into their own classrooms!

Field Experience: International Guatemala Spanish Immersion for Educators

Steve Foster
EDUC 510; 3 credits; $510

This travel course will help educators (as learners) develop a deeper understanding of the foundations of language and culture as part of a 2-week immersion program in Guatemala –exclusively for educators (July 2-15, 2023). The cultural immersion component will focus on language and culture – specifically for the purpose of enhancing classroom instruction. This learning opportunity will provide the student with hands-on learning experiences and activities that can be easily duplicated in the traditional classroom. Students will engage in conversations related to the places they visit and apply their learning through various activities based exclusively on the sites visited. This is a travel experience, and the price of this trip is $2,499 plus international round-trip airfare. Please contact info@spanish4educators.org to sign up for the travel experience. This course can only be taken if the participant is also part of the 2-week Guatemala immersion program.


Early Bird Discount:

Register early for courses to ensure you get the early bird discount.  Thanks to the Ann Zugelder Endowment credits are offered at a 40% discount.

**Early bird cost is subject to scholarship fund availability, register early to guarantee discount**

The early bird discount only includes the cost per credit, it does not include course fees.

Thank you to the Ann Zugelder Endowment.

Registration Confirmations 

Teacher Institute staff will send out an email confirmation soon after registration to confirm courses registered for and the cost.

Additional emails will follow closer to the Teacher Institute with course classroom location, instructor information, as well as instructions for payment and accessing the online web system.

Payment Information

Invoices for courses will be sent out in May via the email by which was used for registration from the Center for Learning & Innovation.

Questions on billing? Contact the Center for Learning & Innovation 970.943.2885 or email at Center@western.edu

Cancellation Fee

Once registered, to drop/cancel a course a $50 fee will be assessed by the Center for Learning & Innovation.

Transcript Information

Transcripts for credit courses can be obtained by visiting www.parchment.com


The Teacher Institute reserves the right to cancel classes and to make changes when warranted. Participants will be notified via email if a class is cancelled and will receive a full refund.  Courses with less then 5 participants on 5/15/2023 will be cancelled.

Refunds for Withdrawals and Dropping a Course

Drops from a course will result in a refund if they occur prior to 5/15/2023 (drop deadline).

Non-attendance or non-payment does not constitute a drop. Full refunds are not given after the last day to drop. All drop requests must be in writing to the Center for Learning and Innovation at center@western.edu


Students have an opportunity to evaluate class content and their instructor at the conclusion of the class. Input from students is important, as it helps improve future classes. Evaluations are anonymous.

Photograph Policy

Photos of students and instructors in various classes are often taken to promote Western Colorado University Center for Learning and Innovation. Such photos are used in schedules of classes, flyers, and other marketing pieces.

The Teacher Institute at Western monitors CDE’s requirements for educators in license renewal.  We have courses that meet both the EL PD Requirement and the PD of training in SPED and behavioral health.  Please note that we provide these courses with CDE’s requirements in mind but it is the participants’ responsibility to complete the required matrix and/or paperwork to show they have met the requirements for renewing a professional license.

The courses that meet the standards of the EL PD Requirement are

  • Session I: Fun with CLD Literacy
  • Session II: American Sign Language
  • Session III: Spanish Language Learning; Learning by Doing
  • Session IV: Spanish Speaking and Teaching Refresher

If you have questions or would like to see which elements of the standard each course meets please contact teacherinstitute@western.edu

The courses that meet the new CDE requirement related to HB 20-1128 and HB 20-1312 indicating that all CO educators and administrators complete 10 professional development contact hours of training in special education and behavioral health are:

  • Session I: Trauma Sensitive Teaching


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