Environmental and Sustainability Education

 

Environmental and Sustainability Education

 

There are many ways to approach environmental and sustainability literacy with students. This includes outdoor time–possibly in the garden, or on a schoolyard nature walk. It certainly includes many of the traditional lessons we teach in science and social studies. Also, don’t forget about after-school clubs and activities, or community service opportunities.

Environmental and Sustainability Education might include choosing the topic of a school play or other presentation to feature these areas, perhaps as part of an outdoor or Earth Day celebration.

 

Next Generation PicThe Next Generation Science Standards were adopted in CT in November 2015! These standards are broken into 3-Dimensional science learning. The NGSS standards have students look at crosscutting concepts, science and engineering practices and disciplinary core ideas. The standards are browsable by topic or disciplinary core idea (DCI).

The standards can be found online here, through nextgenscience.

There is also a FREE application available for IOS and Android devices. Instructions are available through the National Science Teachers Association website.

Information regarding the Common Core State Common Core PicStandards (CCSS) is available at the Common Core State Standards Initiative’s website at www.corestandards.org.

A FREE app is available for iOS and Android devices, information about which is available from the publisher’s (MasteryConnect) website at www.materyconnect.com.

NSTA PicThe National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) website includes resource pages including videos, web seminars, books, journal articles, and more.

 

NSTA Pic 3NSTA also has resources regarding “Commonalities among the practices in Science, Mathematics, and English Language Arts.” Based on work by Tina Cheuk (ell.stanford.edu).

A PDF of the commonalities is available here.

More information is available at www.ngss.nsta.org.

Project Learning TreeProject Learning Tree GreenSchools! This program provides FREE comprehensive “hands-on student-driven investigations” in the following areas:

  • -School Sites
  • -Waste & Recycling
  • -Energy
  • -Water and Environmental Quality.

These materials may be accessed through their website at https://www.plt.org. No-cost registration required.

Equip picFrom the nextgenscience.org website, “The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) rubric for science, provides criteria by which to measure the alignment and overall quality of lessons and units, with respect to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).”

The rubric is also available here.

Tools for Ambitious Teaching PicFrom tools4teachingscience.org, this introduction discusses topics such as:

  • –“What are models?”
  • –“Models and modeling in the classroom”
  • –“What does scientific modeling look like in the classroom?”
  • –“Helpful advice from teachers who have successfully combined modeling and evidence-based
    • explanations in their classrooms”.

A pdf for Models and Modeling: An Introduction can be found here.

COEEA Pic

Connecticut’s Environmental Literacy Plan (CT ELP) document aims to develop an understanding of how we can create environmentally literate citizens. The components include awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills and action. This document can be found through the Connecticut Outdoor & Environmental Education Association (www.coeea.org).

The CT ELP Executive Summary is also available here.

The executive summary can be found on this pdf.

naaee The NAAEE is a great resource for professional development and best practices in environmental education. Check it out at https://naaee.org.

The NAAEE “Environmental Education Materials: Guidelines for Excellence Workbook” is designed to assist educators in assessing the quality of their environmental education lessons, with specific emphasis on:

  • -Fairness & Accuracy
  • -Depth
  • -Emphasis on Skills Building
  • -Action Orientation
  • -Instructional Soundness
  • -Usability.

This PDF can be found available for free download here.

eesmartsA CT Energy Efficiency Fund initiative focused on energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy education. eeSmarts offers several PD workshops (led by CREC) for teachers, such as the PLT GreenSchools! workshop. They are designed specifically to align with CT standards.

Workshops are provided free-of-charge, and stipends are offered in support of attendance. Check out eeSmarts at: https://www.eesmarts.com and search for workshops here: https://www.eesmarts.com/workshops.

green teacherGreen Teacher Magazine’s website (http://greenteacher.com) includes various informational resources. Some are free (such as webinars), while others require a subscription (whole articles).

UCONNEducational outreach support/services are available through the UCONN Extension branch of the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources, which operates out of 8 regional sites (one in each CT county).

Additional comprehensive information is available through their website at extension.uconn.edu.

Project WetProject WET (Water Education for Teachers) is sponsored in Connecticut by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Their website (http://www.projectwet.org/) contains some free lesson plans, and has information about local workshops. Cost is $40 for one person, $35 for 2 teachers from the same school, or $30 for 3 or more. Included in the cost is a 550+ page book with background information and activities, including the very popular “H2O Olympics”.

Information about workshops in CT is available at http://www.ct.gov/deep.

Framework for k-12This article, originally published in the December 2011 issues of NSTA’s journals, is a complement to A Framework for K-12 Science Education, the “textbook.” It provides a brief overview of the concepts presented in the book, and the underlying reasons for the changes presented.

This is available at: http://nstahosted.org.

common groundA CT Charter School in New Haven which features an urban farm has a school garden resource center. The offer lesson ideas, workshops and field trips.

Available at: http://commongroundct.org.

Camp PBSA series of short videos for grades PreK-6 about garden and nature topics. The videos link well with other similar topics and have supported materials, discussion questions and more for the classroom.

Available at: http://www.pbslearningmedia.org.

The center for green schoolsThis organization is part of the U.S. Green Building Council. This website has many resources for greening your school. There are various new articles about Green Schools, LEED schools and resources for projects, presentations, reports and online training.

Available at: http://centerforgreenschools.org.

In the early 2000’s, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) funded a pilot program, through the Town of Mansfield, designed to create a model school composting program.

Information about the costs and benefits of instituting the composting program, along with an extensive manual full of school composting best practices (98 pages), is available through the DEEP website at http://www.ct.gov and through the Mansfield Middle School website at http://www.mansfieldct.org.

COEEA Pic

Connecticut’s Environmental Literacy Plan (CT ELP) document aims to develop an understanding of how we can create environmentally literate citizens. The components include awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills and action. This document can be found here, through the Connecticut Outdoor & Environmental Education Association (www.coeea.org).

The CT ELP Executive Summary is also available here.

The executive summary can be found on this pdf.

AudubonThe National Audubon Society has released a first-of-its-kind comprehensive study of the effects of climate change on bird populations. Over 300 species in the US are identified as being climate-threatened or endangered. The report is available at their website (climate.audubon.org) and includes habitat-projection maps and searchable state or species-specific resources.

This information could be used to discuss general habitat destruction as an effect of climate change, or students could be assigned specific local species for detailed investigation. Students might also be asked to consider the effects on the food chain (if any), should one/several species go extinct.

green teacherGreen Teacher Magazine’s website (http://greenteacher.com) includes various informational resources. Some are free (such as webinars), while others require a subscription (whole articles).

This comprehensive literary resource list (MS Excel spreadsheet format) put together by Dr. Jeanelle Day, includes 400+ titles in support of science education. The spreadsheet includes, and is sortable by: title, author, publishing company, ISBN, alignment with CT standards, Fog Index, Flesh-Kincaid Index, and also includes notes on integration.

The excel sheet is available here.

Making Science Trade Book Choices for Elementary Classrooms by Terry S. Atkinson, Melissa N. Matusevich and Lisa Huber is an excellent article found in The Reading Teacher, 62(6), pp.484-497, 2009. This article introduces an evaluation tool for elementary school teachers to make informed decisions about science trade books for their classrooms.

The Reading Teacher pdf is available here.

These resources provide records of current/historical science and other non-fiction award-winning literature:

-AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Films Prizes for Excellence in Science (http://www.sbfonline.com).

-Sibert Award (http://www.ala.org) Awarded annually to the “most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year”.

-Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Award for Excellence in Nonfiction (http://www.ala.org).

-Cook Prize (http://bankstreet.edu) This prize “honors the best STEM book published for children ages 8 to 10”.

There are many ways to teach about sustainability. From school gardens, to place-based science exploration, to using the school building as your learning laboratory, explore these lessons with your students! There is something here targeting every grade level with integrated science, language arts, and mathematics connections.

Click here for a list of educational lessons.

A collaboration of the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and CT Green LEAF Schools, the School Flag Program helps schools to highlight the importance of good air quality and to educate the school community about the Air Quality Index (AQI) and its implications for student activities each day.

Click here to check out great background materials and lesson ideas.

From the Sustainability Leaders Network comes this “open-source curriculum…designed to strengthen and inform the biomimicry movement among educators and learners locally and around the world”. Originally developed for 9th and 10th graders, “with minor adjustments, it can be made appropriate for a learner of nearly any age”.

Course content includes: Teacher’s curriculum, PowerPoint slides, student’s outline, and handouts.

Available at the Sustainability Leaders Network Website: http://www.sustainabilityleadersnetwork.org.

NEED A variety of GREAT resources are available free-of-charge in the curriculum section of the NEED.org (National Energy Education Development) website at http://www.need.org.

These are categorized and browse-able by grade level, energy topic (hydropower, coal, nuclear, etc.), and subject (math, social studies, language arts, etc.).

From the CT Envirothon website (http://www.ctenvirothon.org), “Envirothon is a natural resource based education program that was started in 1992 by the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts”. Designed for high school students, teams of students and a teacher/mentor learn about the environment, and are encouraged to conduct community-based environmental service programs. At the end of the school year, a statewide field-based competition is held, the winner of which represents Connecticut in an international (US & Canada) competition for prizes/scholarships.

AudubonThe National Audubon Society has released a first-of-its-kind comprehensive study of the effects of climate change on bird populations. Over 300 species in the US are identified as being climate-threatened or endangered. The report is available at their website (climate.audubon.org) and includes habitat-projection maps and searchable state or species-specific resources.

This information could be used to discuss general habitat destruction as an effect of climate change, or students could be assigned specific local species for detailed investigation. Students might also be asked to consider the effects on the food chain (if any), should one/several species go extinct.

orkinOrkin Pest Control offers students K-6 the opportunity to research and observe the world of insects.

These are free downloaded resources available at: http://www.orkin.com.

CLEARUCONN’s Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) has a wide variety of informational resources, including statistics, detailed maps, and GIS (geographic information systems) data.

This website (http://clear.uconn.edu/projects/landscapeLIS/index.htm) is recommended for use in support of high-school level lessons, although certain resources, such as the more basic maps, may be adaptable for use with middle-school students.

Celebrate Urban Birds (CUB) – From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, students of all ages collect data about various bird species that is then reported to and analyzed by Cornell researchers. The name is a bit of a misnomer, as participants need not reside in an urban environment.

Available at http://celebrateurbanbirds.org.

Project BudBurst – Students document when various species of plants begin to bloom. This data is then analyzed and published online, and assists scientists in their studies of how climate change affects plant life on a local, regional, and national scale.

Available at http://budburst.org.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has several programs/resources in support of environmental education. The educator’s section of their website (http://www.fws.gov/letsgooutside/educators.html) provides a portal to access information regarding these resources.

Also, please find the “Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide”, which is attached and available online at http://www.fws.gov/chesapeakebay/pdf/habitatguide.pdf.

This comprehensive lesson walks students through energy generation and consumption, from source (sun) to generation at a power plant to end use. Particular attention is paid to energy generation in Connecticut, with regards to both current generation and how electricity-generation sources in CT have changed over time (and for what reasons).

The use of real data in several lessons facilitates cross-disciplinary mathematics exercises. It is available from its parent website (http://www.ctenergyeducation.com/) at http://ctenergyeducation.com/lessons. Free log-in required. Be sure to browse through the rest of the website for other energy-related lessons.

A “Hunger Banquet”, can be a great way to encourage students (particularly middle/high school) to think about issues such as food production, sustainability, economics, and global equity. Students are assigned, at random, to a table representing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-world countries. Students at 1st-world country tables receive a “full meal with all the fixings”. Those at 2nd-world tables receive a bowl of rice-and-beans , while 3rd-world representatives sit on the floor and receive only a bowl of rice. During the meal, students should be presented with information about food and hunger in various countries, particularly as it compares with the US. Include time for students to discuss and reflect what they’ve learned.

Modifications can be made, at the organizers discretion, however it is suggested that maintaining accurate proportions of each group be prioritized. If the event is to occur during normal school lunch hours, ensure that all students have access to sandwiches/bag lunches afterwards (while the goal is to encourage students to learn about and discuss these issues, proper nutrition is still necessary).

Informational resources, along with suggested guidelines for hosting your own “hunger banquet”, are available from the Oxfam website at http://www.oxfamamerica.org/take-action/events/hunger-banquet/.

This national organization is a great resource that encourages schools to become stewards of the environment. This website has just created a new activity guide with over 125 activities available for FREE download. There are also additional resources on the Green Schoolyards Movement and Enhancing Your Schoolyard.

Activity guides available at: http://www.greenschoolyards.org/2015-living-schoolyard.

More information at: http://www.greenschoolyards.org/home.html.

This research paper submitted by the American Institutes for Research in 2005, studied 255 sixth-grade students from elementary schools that served at-risk populations. The students participated in outdoor science education programs. The results of the study found positive social and personal skills that were developed through the program such as conflict resolution, cooperation and leadership. Results found that students had increased their science scores based on pre and post tests by 27%. The study also found that teachers of the English Language Learners demonstrated huge improvement in cooperation, relations with peers and motivation to learn. Overall, research found great benefits from student participation in Outdoor Education Programs.

Full research article available at: http://www.air.org/pdf.

This report put out by the National Wildlife Federation explores how the outdoors can create high performing students. “Did you know 75% students who spend regular time outdoors tend to be more creative and better able to problem solve in the classroom?” This report, broken into three chapters, explores how outdoor time helps students become better and more active learners, how outdoor programs can contribute to higher test scores and provides examples for implementing some approaches to getting outdoors more in school.

Full report available at: https://www.nwf.org/pdf.

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