Environmental Literacy and Sustainability

Provide resources to integrate environmental literacy and sustainability standards into existing curricula and coursework.
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All resources in Environmental Literacy and Sustainability

Berkeley Unified School District: Garden-Based Learning Curriculum

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This curriculum builds upon many years of educating students in the garden and scales up content across grades and lessons for instructional scaffolding. It is designed as an interactive teaching tool to be co-taught with classroom teachers and garden instructors as leads. Each lesson connects directly to standards: Next Generation Science, Common Core State, Physical Education, and Environmental and Health Education. The concise and easy to-follow lessons are a packed 45 minutes for preschool through fifth grade. Flexibility is important, so some lessons include several activities that teachers can choose from to accommodate their lesson plans. Consistency is also important, so lessons follow themes and structures found in the Curriculum Map. 360 pages.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan, Teaching/Learning Strategy

Design a Net-Zero Energy Classroom

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Students create a concept design of their very own net-zero energy classroom by pasting renewable energy and energy-efficiency items into and around a pretend classroom on a sheet of paper. They learn how these items (such as solar panels, efficient lights, computers, energy meters, etc.) interact to create a learning environment that produces as much energy as it uses.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Integrated Teaching and Learning Program,, Janet Yowell, Malinda Schaefer Zarske, William Surles

Composing a Song With Others Using Google Flat

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This lesson plan uses Google Flat to teach compostion and collaboration. This site can be used to build a class song by everyone in the class contributing to the composition.  Each student can contribute to the song at the same time or can add notes at a later date.  The site is set up like a Google Doc. You can work with the person next to you or someone in a completely differerent location.

Material Type: Interactive, Lesson Plan

Does Media Matter? Infiltration Rates and Storage Capacities

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Students gain a basic understanding of the properties of media soil, sand, compost, gravel and how these materials affect the movement of water (infiltration/percolation) into and below the surface of the ground. They learn about permeability, porosity, particle size, surface area, capillary action, storage capacity and field capacity, and how the characteristics of the materials that compose the media layer ultimately affect the recharging of groundwater tables. They test each type of material, determining storage capacity, field capacity and infiltration rates, seeing the effect of media size on infiltration rate and storage. Then teams apply the testing results to the design their own material mixes that best meet the design requirements. To conclude, they talk about how engineers apply what students learned in the activity about the infiltration rates of different soil materials to the design of stormwater management systems.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Ryan Locicero, Maya Trotz, Krysta Porteus, Jennifer Butler, William Zeman, Brigith Soto, Water Awareness Research and Education (WARE) Research Experience for Teachers (RET),

Environment

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Through 10 lessons and more than 20 hands-on activities, students are introduced to the concept of an environment and the many interactions within it. As they learn about natural and human-made environments, as well as renewable and non-renewable natural resources, they see how people use our planet's natural resources and the many resulting environmental issues that exist in our world today. Topics include: solid waste disposal; the concepts of reduce, reuse, recycle and compost; the causes and effects of water pollution and the importance of water treatment and clean-up methods; air pollution and air quality and the many engineering technologies to prevent it and clean it up; land use and community planning, seeing how decisions made by people have a long-term impact on our natural world; and renewable energy sources, seeing how solar, water and wind energy can be transformed into electricity. In the hands-on activities, students: create a yarn "web" to identify environmental interactions, which they tally and graph; use Moebius strips (loops of paper with a half twist) to demonstrate the environmental interconnectedness and explore natural cycles (water, oxygen/carbon dioxide, carbon, nitrogen); conduct an environmental issue survey to gather and graph data and use an opinion spectrum; brainstorm ways that they use and waste natural resources; use cookies to simulate the distribution of nonrenewable resources; collect, categorize, weigh and analyze classroom solid waste for a week; build and observe a model landfill; evaluate alternative product packaging; use models to investigate the process and consequences of water contamination; design and build water filters; observe and discuss a balloon model of an electrostatic precipitator; build particulate matter collectors; observe and discuss a model of a wet scrubber; dig into the newspaper's daily air quality index; act as community planning engineers to determine optimal structure placement in a community; investigate the thermal storage properties of sand, salt, water and paper to evaluate their suitability as passive solar thermal mass; design and create models for new waterwheels within time and material constraints; build model anemometers; and create publications to communicate what they have learned.

Material Type: Full Course

Authors: Integrated Teaching and Learning Program,, See individual lessons and activities.

Engineers Speak for the Trees

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Students begin by reading Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" as an example of how overdevelopment can cause long-lasting environmental destruction. Students discuss how to balance the needs of the environment with the needs of human industry. Student teams are asked to serve as natural resource engineers, city planning engineers and civil engineers with the task to replant the nearly destroyed forest and develop a sustainable community design that can co-exist with the re-established natural area.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Denise W. Carlson, Integrated Teaching and Learning Program,, Jacob Crosby, Kate Beggs, Malinda Schaefer Zarske

Remix

Quarter 4 Outdoor School-wide (K-5) Inquiry Mini-Unit

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The following six OERS for grades K-5 are designed for teachers to use the outdoor spaces around their schools for learning with the goals of connecting students with their sense of place and well-being. Together, the six experiences comprise a school-wide mini-unit in which each grade level explore an Investigative Question.  Collectively, each Investigative Question leads the entire student body in considering the Essential Question of the mini-unit.  A school leadership team identified the Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability (ELS) to be addressed at every grade level and developed an Essential Question to be explored.Wisconsin Green Schools Network FIELD coaches provided teachers with an introduction to outdoor, place-based inquiry learning, unpacked ELS, and met with grade level teams to co-create inquiry questions (called Investigative Questions in the lessons that follow) for their students to investigate outside each quarter. These OERs were co-taught with teachers and FIELD coaches and were refined during co-reflection.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Sandy Benton

Remix

Quarter 3 Outdoor School-wide (K-5) Inquiry Mini-Unit

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The following six OERS for grades K-5 are designed for teachers to use the outdoor spaces around their schools for learning with the goals of connecting students with their sense of place and well-being. Together, the six experiences comprise a school-wide mini-unit in which each grade level explore an Investigative Question.  Collectively, each Investigative Question leads the entire student body in considering the Essential Question of the mini-unit.  A school leadership team identified the Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability (ELS) to be addressed at every grade level and developed an Essential Question to be explored.Wisconsin Green Schools Network FIELD coaches provided teachers with an introduction to outdoor, place-based inquiry learning, unpacked ELS, and met with grade level teams to co-create inquiry questions (called Investigative Questions in the lessons that follow) for their students to investigate outside each quarter. These OERs were co-taught with teachers and FIELD coaches and were refined during co-reflection.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Sandy Benton

Remix

Quarter 2 Outdoor School-wide (K-5) Inquiry Mini-Unit

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The following six OERS for grades K-5 are designed for teachers to use the outdoor spaces around their schools for learning with the goals of connecting students with their sense of place and well-being. Together, the six experiences comprise a school-wide mini-unit in which each grade level explore an Investigative Question.  Collectively, each Investigative Question leads the entire student body in considering the Essential Question of the mini-unit.  A school leadership team identified the Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability (ELS) to be addressed at every grade level and developed an Essential Question to be explored.Wisconsin Green Schools Network FIELD coaches provided teachers with an introduction to outdoor, place-based inquiry learning, unpacked ELS, and met with grade level teams to co-create inquiry questions (called Investigative Questions in the lessons that follow) for their students to investigate outside each quarter. These OERs were co-taught with teachers and FIELD coaches and were refined during co-reflection.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Sandy Benton

Quarter 1 Outdoor School-wide (K-5) Inquiry Mini-Unit

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The following six OERS for grades K-5 are designed for teachers to use the outdoor spaces around their schools for learning with the goals of connecting students with their sense of place and well-being. Together, the six experiences comprise a school-wide mini-unit in which each grade level explore an Investigative Question.  Collectively, each Investigative Question leads the entire student body in considering the Essential Question of the mini-unit.  A school leadership team identified the Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability (ELS) to be addressed at every grade level and developed an Essential Question to be explored.Wisconsin Green Schools Network FIELD coaches provided teachers with an introduction to outdoor, place-based inquiry learning, unpacked ELS, and met with grade level teams to co-create inquiry questions (called Investigative Questions in the lessons that follow) for their students to investigate outside each quarter. These OERs were co-taught with teachers and FIELD coaches and were refined during co-reflection.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Sandy Benton, Julie Jarvis

Remix

Going Out on a Limb-Plant Communities of Wisconsin Central Sand Plains

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Through a study of the Central Sand Plains region of Wisconsin, students will participate in learning experiences both in the classroom and outdoors, so that they can recognize and identify natural divisions and forest types within this region. Students will learn how the conditions essential for a native forest community can help us make decisions about what foods grow best in our region. They will write a research piece to compare and contrast the life cycles and structures of two plants, one forest and one garden plant) we have studied.

Material Type: Unit of Study

Authors: Sandy Benton, Pamela Bilderback, Kristin Grooms, Michele Crispell, Victoria Rydberg

Remix

Landforms of Adams County, WI

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Students will use hands-on models, maps, and the natural landscape to describe landforms in our area and and develop and understanding of the effects of water and wind on these landforms. Prior to these lessons, students will have had experiences with the use of "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" protocols as well as field journaling. This is a unit for second grade landforms that culminates in a visit to Roche-A-Cri State Park.

Material Type: Unit of Study

Authors: Melissa Osborn, Sandy Benton, Deb Clark, Samantha Stormoen, Victoria Rydberg