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.
NAAEE’s Guide to Developing a State-wide Environmental Literacy Plan