Professional Development Courses


Summer 2017 Courses

Exploring Nature’s Outdoor Classrooms : A Field Study
Beyond the Lima Bean: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Plant Science

Professional Development Courses for teachers are through ASPDP (After School Professional Development Program). “P” In-Service courses offer pedagogues’ high-quality, convenient, low-cost alternatives to college courses that may be applied to salary differential requirements and to the NYS 175 hour professional development requirement to maintain Professional Certification. Courses are designed to impact student achievement through the professional development of teachers.

All courses are taught by Pamela Ito, The Hort’s Director of Children’s Education


Upcoming Courses

Exploring Nature’s Outdoor Classrooms : A Field Study
Course Code: 114-0179.1M17
Dates: July 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12




In 2010, F.E. Kuo’s report from the National Recreation and Park Association showed the “positive impacts of parks and other green spaces on social, psychological, and physical health. Demonstrated benefits include better cognitive functioning, more self-discipline and impulse control, and greater mental health overall—all of which are key to a child’s success in school.” Given these benefits to our city children, this course will explore local natural and nature inspired spaces. Guided by The Hort’s field team participants will learn how to connect science, reading and writing concepts to each location. Participants will plan and prepare, then meet in the field to use these outdoor sites to explain concepts like: native plants, woodland and street trees, migratory bird patterns and river ecology concepts within the built environment. These concepts will be synthesized with a) field references b) site history c) literary references and d) culture of the site. Teachers will develop rich learning activities, assessment tools and a customized field guide for their future use in these sites and in other natural areas. Top attractions will include The North Woods in Central Park, the Hudson River waterfront, school gardens built by The Horticultural Society of New York and the native plant garden at the Highline. Each site visit will incorporate use of The Hort’s Library, where they will connect their findings to the NYS Common Core Learning Standards and develop specific lesson plans to address the standards.

Please note: This course will require extensive walking outdoors (two miles per day in summer temperatures) and use of the NYC subway system to travel from site to site or from site to our office headquarters. This course has daily field trips to natural areas and will require outdoor explorations. Participants will observe and tour locations for up to 3 hours per session. Each day we will meet at various locations around in Manhattan’s urban environment.


All classes held at The Hort, 8:30am - 3:30pm
$200 for course


Also see the DOE Program policy including attendance requirements




Beyond the Lima Bean: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Plant Science
Course Code: 114-0024.1M17
Dates: July 24-29

This hands-on course will delve into plant parts with an innovative, interdisciplinary and sensory focus. We will connect basic botany with mathematics, art and literacy aspects of the elementary school curriculum, to maximize student learning. The science of plant parts will be the primary teaching topic as we observe stem transportation, dissect flowers (a component of which is found on the city-wide 4th grade science test), investigate seed function and analyze leaf shapes. The six main parts of a plant will then be happily united with visual, culinary and musical arts as participants photograph hairy roots, create playful "plant chants", design floral arrangements and learn how chocolate is made from cacao seeds. Additionally, educational links with practical mathematics and relevant literacy techniques will be implemented. Each session will teach strategies for delivering differentiated instruction to address some of the many types of learners, especially the auditory, visual, tactile and kinesthetic learners. As a culminating project, participants will create an integrated botany portfolio to use as a teaching tool in their classrooms.

Course location: Riverbank State Park, West 145th St. Free parking available.
Course cost $200


Also see the DOE Program policy including attendance requirements







The Joy of Vegetables: Where Science Meets Nutrition
ASPDP Course Code: P01.021.SS16
Dates: TBD


I have eaten the most vegatables I have ever had in this class.
-Jennifer Pearlman



Celebrate vegetables through exploring, planting, harvesting and eating together! This hands-on course will explore vegetables from the ground to our plates and promote a symbiosis between healthy plants and healthy people. To maximize student learning, we will connect science standards with real world applications whether in a garden or classroom window box. Participants will learn to get a jumpstart on the growing season by starting seeds indoors, learning where to purchase cheap seedlings and how to make any vegetable project financially sustainable. Teachers will plant vegetable seeds, transplant starter tomatoes, investigate plant structure, define botanical functions, conduct scientific experiments and finally produce tasty, unique veggie dishes. They will also learn how to test soils for heavy metals, defining healthy soil, and at least five ways to ameliorate poor soils. These activities use science as a conduit for non-fiction journaling, conducting library research, connecting new definitions and terms with real-world procedures and concise written summaries of procedures.

Course cost $200

Also see the DOE Program policy including attendance requirements




Green STEM: Building with Greenwall and Greenroof Technology
DOE Course Code: P17-252
Dates: TBD




Explore and build with The Hort! This hands-on course will focus on how our urban environment necessitates innovative thinking about growing plants. Participants will expand their scientific knowledge through exploration of green roof and vertical gardening technologies then translate them into practical application within the unique New York City context. We will investigate the relationship between science and technology—not only in the context of tools, but also of processes, designs and products. Participants will incorporate calculations of vertical and horizontal space to construct a wall-mounted greenwall. Starting with basic engineering skills, participants will assess an open space and evaluate photographs. Then they will measure and create a project design. We will refer to our Hort library to research the functions of various soil substrates, then explore the properties of materials and design the ideal substrate for their green wall or green roof. Each newly created substrate will be "put to the test" by scientific measurements to determine the highest level of water retention and lowest overall weight of each participant’s soil creation. The results of our soil experiment will be combined with a careful selection of unique plants to invent a new, sustainable, urban ecosystem.

All classes held at The Hort, 4pm - 8:30pm
$250 for course

Link to DOE ASPDP site: https://pci.nycenet.edu/aspdp
Also see the DOE Program policy including attendance requirements