Lesson and Unit Examples

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Curriculum Resources for Integrating Environmental, Social, and Economic Sustainability

CA Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) and Curriculum: The EEI Curriculum uses the environment as a context to help students learn science and history-social science. The curriculum is a model for educators to demonstrate how to integrate environmental literacy into classroom instruction. In total there are 85 units that span K-12 teachers and primarily support teaching science and history content standards. Each unit embeds Common Core State Standards in English language arts, and science units support the Next Generation Science Standards, and history lessons support the CA History-Social Studies Framework.

CEEIN Curriculum Resources: The California Environmental Education Interagency Network (CEEIN) is a state government consortium of environmental educators representing departments, boards, and commissions of the California Department of Education, California Environmental Protection Agency, The Resources Agency of California, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. CEEIN accomplishments include the Curricula and Compendia Project, which is a wealth of free curriculum resources that can be found in the resources section under each CEEIN member.

Energize Schools: Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI) has created a number of no-cost resources and supportive services including: sustainability project-based curriculum, instructional support in the classroom, field trips, instructional materials, and teacher trainings. They also have other curriculum resources available to browse and use.

World Savvy: World Savvy partners with educators, schools, and districts to integrate global competence teaching and learning into classrooms for all K-12 students. They offer a number of programs and resources for teachers and schools to bring project-based learning curriculum into their classrooms. While many of their professional development programs have a fee, they have a toolkit and resources for implementing sustainability related lessons and projects into their curriculum.

PEAK - A Program of the Energy Coalition: PEAK is a comprehensive standards-based educational program designed to empower elementary and middle school students with the knowledge to manage energy use in their homes, schools and communities. Through hands-on learning, students are inspired to pursue green careers and motivate themselves and others to take action to create a more sustainable world.

UN Sustainable Development Goals: On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals. The World's Largest Lesson, is a program that turns these goals into easy to use lessons for teachers to use in the classroom.

Alliance for Climate Education: Our Climate Our Future: Our Climate Our Future is a multimedia experience that educates young people about the science of climate change and empowers them to take action. Our Climate Our Future brings the award-winning ACE Assembly on climate science and solutions to your classroom. This online multimedia experience includes ACE’s signature mix of dynamic animation, music, video and interactivity. ACE also offers a number of other resources such as live assemblies and teacher trainings.

Edutopia - Environmental Education: Edutopia's main Enviromental Education page has a number of discussions, videos, articles and curriculum resources for helping go deeper with environmental education. Explore Edutopia's list of curated resources for these green approaches to integrated studies.

Green Education Foundation: Green Education Foundation (GEF) is a national non-profit organization committed to creating a sustainable future through education. GEF aims to identify key factors and impediments influencing sustainability education, evaluate existing approaches, and develop effective educational materials and programs to promote behavior change towards sustainable practices. Among some of their free resources for educators are: K-12 sustainability lessons, audits, hands-on activities, national and regional contests, and recommended reading.

Teaching Tolerance Classroom Resources: From film kits and lesson plans to the building blocks of a customized Learning Plan — texts, student tasks and teaching strategies — the resources will help bring relevance, rigor and social emotional learning into all classroom — for FREE. Not sure where to begin? Get to know the Social Justice Standards, anchor standards and age-appropriate learning outcomes divided into four domains—Identity, Diversity, Justice and Action.

Greening STEM Educator Resources: The National Environmental Education Foundation has curated a series of Green STEM resources. These infographics, toolkits, activity guides, and video resources contain free educational material in popular environmental topic areas that incorporate elements of STEM. Many of the activities and resources include project-based learning, service-learning, and citizen science components.

The Center for Environmental Education: The Center for Environmental Education Curriculum Library provides current educational resources for use in schools. The curriculum is reviewed by our staff and we provide you with an assessment based on the North American Association for Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence which include national academic standards and benchmarks.

Earth Force: Earth Force has developed a six-step model that combines civic engagement, environmental education, and STEM. Youth work with their educators to identify and research local environmental issues, resulting in a civic action project that addresses their selected issue.

Lawrence Hall of Science: The Lawrence Hall of Science has put together engaging, inquiry-based instructional materials designed by leading educators at UC Berkeley for teaching excellent science education. Many of their programs offer environmental lessons, but the 97 free activities in the Outdoor Biology Instructional Strategies (OBIS) provide an outdoor program that offers young people fun and challenging opportunities to investigate ecological relationships in their local environment.

Planet Protector Academy: The Keep Cool program inspires kids to become climate action superheroes and change their families’ energy and transportation habits! The program is delivered in six weekly one hour modules in the classroom combined with at-home superhero missions cover a range of climate action topics. The program is geared toward 3-5th grade and is aligned with Common Core and NGSS Standards.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Find an array of environmental and science based lesson plans, activities and ideas from EPA, other federal agencies and external organizations.


Curriculum Resources for Integrating Environmental, Social, and Economic Sustainability

Green Ninja: The Green Ninja Curriculum is specifically crafted for middle school science teachers with integrated NGSS units that blend Earth, Life and Physical Science with Engineering Design. Each grade level has six units that are guided by a unifying theme and include culminating projects where students solve real-world environmental problems. Support materials for teachers include easy to use lesson plans, videos, presentations and learning materials that help teachers guide their students through NGSS experiences.

Eco Rise: EcoRise develops the next generation of creative problem solvers by enlivening conventional classrooms with academically-aligned K-12 curriculum that introduce students to environmental literacy, social innovation and hands-on design skills. Green professionals serve as guest speakers and project mentors to help students solve real-world sustainability challenges concerning energy, water, waste, transportation, air quality, food and public spaces.

Green Teacher: This non-profit organization is dedicated to helping educators, both inside and outside of schools, promote environmental awareness among young people aged 6-19. They produce a quarterly magazine, which offers offers perspectives on the role of education in creating a sustainable future, practical articles and ready to use activities for various age levels, and reviews of dozens of new educational resources. They also offer webinars from their website, and book publications with ready to go curriculum.

Facing the Future: Facing the Future is an international leader whose mission is to create tools for educators that equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future. The lessons and units they have created ignite students' interest in complex global issues while helping them achieve academically.

Project WET: They develop and deliver the world's best water education resources, organize special water events, manage a worldwide network of local implementing partners and advocate for the role of water education in solving the world's most pressing water issues. They have a number of publications and online courses for purchase, and some free materials as well.

Project Learning Tree: Project Learning Tree® uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase students’ understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. From its beginnings in 1976, PLT has exemplified high-quality environmental education through three equally important components: 1) high-quality instructional materials for grades PreK-12, 2) carefully designed professional development, and 3) an extensive distribution and support network.

Northwest Earth Institute: Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) is a non-profit organization that inspires people to take responsibility for Earth. NWEI was founded in 1993 with a simple objective: to give people a framework to talk about our relationship with the planet and to share in discovering new ways to live, work, create and consume. They have developed a program of engaging and meaningful discussion courses that are based on up-to-date cutting-edge research. Their materials are specially designed for use at schools, in the workplace, in faith-based organizations, and in communities.

Project Wild: Project WILD links students and wildlife through its mission to provide wildlife-based conservation and environmental education that fosters responsible actions toward wildlife and related natural resources. Through the use of balanced curriculum materials and professional training workshops, Project WILD accomplishes its goal of developing awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment.

CELF: The Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation was founded in 2003 on the principle that education for sustainability is essential for today’s K-12 students. Since its inception, CELF has provided consulting services, professional development programs and student training programs, and has collected a full curriculum library with free exemplars.

Doing Good Curriculum: The Forgotten International is a nonprofit with the mission to develop programs that alleviate poverty and the suffering associated with poverty both in the United States and worldwide, in particular, that experienced by women and children. One way they approach doing this work is to support cultivating the next generation of philanthropists and world-changers. Their Doing Good curriculum aims to educate secondary students about poverty and encourage them to get involved to make a difference in their local and global community.

Roots of Success: An empowering educational program that prepares youth and adults for environmental careers and to improve conditions in their communities. Used in a wide range of educational and workforce settings that include: schools, youth programs, apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, job training programs, reentry programs, prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, government agencies, community-based organizations, environmental justice and environmental organizations.

Creative Change Education Solutions: This organization provides professional development programs for schools and districts. Included in their PD is support for curriculum development with teachers, and their Curriculum Resource Center (CRC), which provides curriculum resources for teachers and school districts including a huge library of content and approaches. They have distilled innovative thinking into age-appropriate instructional materials, so teachers can integrate these resources into their own courses and units.