Superintendents' Environmental Education Collaborative

Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree

ABOUT PROJECT LEARNING TREE

Started in 1976, Project Learning Tree® (PLT) is a reputable, award-winning environmental education program designed for schools, teachers, parents, communities, and youth group leaders.

We provide high-quality professional development and multi-disciplinary supplemental curriculum to help schools integrate the environment into lesson plans for all grades and subject areas.

Our hands-on and engaging activities, suitable for all ages and settings, grow young people’s awareness, knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for nature. Our materials are designed to help students learn how to think, not what to think, and encompass the economic, ecological, and social aspects of environmental issues. PLT activities are proven to increase students’ environmental literacy and develop students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Many PLT lessons take students outdoors to make observations or collect data. We help teachers become comfortable teaching outdoors to actively engage students in learning, and to help improve children’s health, physical well-being, and social and emotional learning. Many PLT activities also introduce students to green careers, and many suggest service-learning opportunities that take students into the community.

PLT Meets Academic Standards

Each PLT activity displays explicit connections to practices and concepts expected by the following national academic standards:

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • Common Core State Standards—English Language Arts (CCSS.ELA)
  • Common Core State Standards—Mathematics (CCSS.MATH)
  • College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies (C3) 

We demonstrate these connections in our professional development, so teachers can easily see where our materials will fit into their lesson plans and help them meet local, state, and national academic standards. 

High-Quality Professional Development for K-12 Teachers

PLT’s 50-state network offers educators both in-person and blended professional development that is planned and conducted by locally trained facilitators and customized for specific grade levels, topics, outcomes, and teaching situations. Our professional development ranges from customized offerings for inservice teachers and preservice teachers, to 2-hour after-school events, to week-long summer institutes. PLT also offers online courses that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. All our offerings are grounded in professional development best practices, designed to meet specific outcomes, and improve student achievement. Our high-quality, hands-on, and interactive professional development helps teachers:

  • Enhance their teaching skills, deepen their content knowledge, and get comfortable teaching outdoors – in urban, suburban, or rural environments.
  • Integrate PLT materials and state-specific supplements into their instruction, including adaptations for remote teaching and ways to work with students virtually.
  • Experience PLT activities and practice strategies for lesson planning specific to their educational setting and academic standards.
  • Access customized assistance for adopting environmental education and a network of professionals and support.
  • Earn continuing education credits.

Hands-On Learning and Teaching

PLT activities are hands-on and investigation-based, affording students the opportunity to learn through real experiences that make learning fun while also building skills, stimulating knowledge gains, and actively engaging students. PLT activities support STEM education by presenting real-world opportunities to apply science, technology, engineering, and math in problem-solving. We rigorously test our materials through formative and summative evaluations and field test them with hundreds of classroom teachers before they are published. PLT’s curriculum materials are proven to meet their intended learner outcomes.

PLT Improves Teaching Practice

PLT employs highly effective and well-tested teaching strategies. These include inquiry-based instruction, outdoor teaching and learning, differentiated instruction, career connections, STEM skills building, and authentic assessment. Each activity suggests effective strategies for students to apply and demonstrate what they learned from the activity. PLT is dedicated to ensuring that our education materials contribute to authentic and meaningful learning spaces that represent diverse voices. Our newest curriculum has also been developed through a critical lens of justice and inclusion. Our model of delivery through professional development ensures that instruction and content strategies can be modified to meet the needs of all learners.

Teachers Use PLT Year After Year

PLT activities are practical and flexible, enabling adaptation to diverse and localized contexts. A hallmark of PLT is how easily teachers can begin using it right away in their classrooms and our research shows they keep using it for years. Well over 85% of PLT-trained educators use it annually in their classrooms and other settings, typically in week-long blocks of time.