This five-part toolkit will assist in developing or enhancing your EE efforts throughout your school district.
Join the collaborative to learn about school districts across the country and their efforts in environmental literacy, to access resources from partners, and learn about funding and grant opportunities. Membership is open to all school superintendents.
1. Find Resources
Learn about environmental education resources to support your school district. These include professional development opportunities, models and best practices for integrated PreK-12 EE, and research on student outcomes.
2. Form a Team
One strategy for success in systemic integration of environmental education into your district curriculum is to form a leadership team that can identify the most appropriate places for EE to enhance learning and address standards.
Developing a district-wide plan for integrating EE into the curriculum can help to establish appropriate curricular connections, coordinate partners, and ensure equitable access to EE for all students.
Many superintendents find that forming an environmental literacy team is key to developing, implementing, and monitoring effective strategies for district-wide environmental literacy. If you don’t already have a district-wide environmental literacy plan, pulling together an environmental literacy team is a good place to start. If you have a plan in place, the team can play an important role in tracking implementation, identifying needed resources or support, and promoting continual improvement.
To ensure your districts approach to environmental literacy is robust and is widely supported by both internal and external stakeholders, here are some suggested members of a district environmental literacy team (consider engaging at least one person from each category):
- Content supervisors
- Classroom teachers
- Facilities managers
- Other county or local agencies (e.g. department of public works)
- Environmental education program providers
- Other non-formal education partners
3. Identify Partners
Community-based partners can be a valuable resource in the integration of environmental education into the curriculum. Whether providing in-the-field learning opportunities for students, standards-based curricula, or teacher professional development, partners play an important role in a rich and vibrant EE program.
Learn about strengthening partnerships between school systems and environmental education organizations.
4. Make a Plan
Developing a district-wide plan for integrating EE into the curriculum can help to establish appropriate curricular connections, coordinate partners, and ensure equitable access to EE for all students and teachers
A K-12 plan for environmental literacy can provide an important organizing framework for standards-aligned, age appropriate environmental education experiences for every student, every year. An environmental literacy plan helps to ensure that year to year content and experiences scaffold, building towards the development of knowledge and skills needed to actively engage in identify and solving local environmental problems. Additionally, the planning process provides an opportunity to identify gaps, eliminate duplication of programs, and develop strategies for providing professional development and equitable delivery of programs and experiences.
Tips for developing a plan
- Engage a diverse team. Take steps to engage both teachers and administrators so that your environmental literacy plan reflects both classrooms and systemic perspectives.
- Find out what’s already happening in your schools. There are likely a number of environmental education programs and learning experiences taking place in individual classrooms or schools throughout your district. Getting a baseline understanding of where and how environmental education is already being implemented is an important first step in developing a district-wide plan.
- Make your plan interdisciplinary. Consider curricular connections and opportunities in social studies, math, language arts, the arts…every part of the curriculum has the potential for meaningful integration of environmental education.
- Think outside the classroom. Your schoolyard may offer excellent opportunities for outdoor learning experiences that bring classroom lessons to life.
- Involve partners. Not every part of your plan must rely on classroom teachers for delivery. Consider the places where community partners can provide teacher professional development and/or provide on and off-site programs for students. Getting partners on board with your district-wide goals and objectives for environmental literacy will also encourage them to coordinate programs amongst themselves to avoid duplication of efforts and better meet your district needs.
5. Find Funding
Funding can be key to expanding or replicating effective EE programs to reach more students. Several federal grant programs exist that support EE in both formal and nonformal settings. Some state agencies and private funders also provide support for EE.
Learn about how your school district can receive federal funding and other grant opportunities.