ELA Superheroes Podcast: Empowering Environmental Literacy Through English-Language Arts

Environmental literacy and justice belong in every California classroom, especially the core subject area of English Language Arts. With this fundamental idea in mind, members of the CAELI Professional Learning Hub have centered one of their 2023-24 working groups on developing a set of resources that feature Environmental Superheroes of the English Language Classroom. Over the last several months, the ELA working group has collected stories of TK-12 educators who teach reading, writing, listening, and speaking through the lens of environmental literacy and justice, and have packaged these stories into a collection of podcasts and snapshots!

These resources were first shared by Peggy Harte and Tara Kajtaniak at the California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) Conference in Los Angeles. During the CATE Conference, Peggy and Tara facilitated exploration on how to integrate environmental literacy and justice into the core educational experience, maximizing opportunities within the classroom to highlight students’ lived experiences. 

We are now thrilled to announce the launch of these resources more publicly! The ELA Superheroes podcast is a groundbreaking series that shines a spotlight on California TK-12 educators who seamlessly integrate environmental literacy with English-Language Arts (ELA) instruction. Each episode offers a compelling narrative that highlights innovative teaching strategies, where reading, writing, listening, and speaking are taught through the lens of environmental literacy and justice.

The ELA Superheroes podcast is designed to demonstrate the transformative power of this integrated teaching approach. By weaving environmental issues into the fabric of ELA lessons, educators can engage students with real-life challenges, fostering critical thinking and a deeper understanding of both language and environmental stewardship.

🎧 Tuning Into Real Classroom Stories

Each episode of the ELA Superheroes podcast offers a detailed look into how educators integrate environmental literacy with ELA instruction. Expect real classroom stories, innovative teaching strategies, and practical resources.

Each episode not only tells an inspiring narrative but also provides actionable insights and tools for educators to implement similar approaches in their own classrooms.

  1. Saving Monarch Butterflies and Building Empathy Through Early Literacy (Grades K–2)
    • Teachers Taf Wilson and Melanie Smith from Golden Charter Academy guide Kindergartners in advocating for monarch butterfly conservation, blending environmental science with foundational literacy skills.
  2. Place-Based Research and Riparian Habitat Restoration (Grades 3–5)
    • Greg Gaeira of Union Street Charter School leads fourth graders in hands-on environmental restoration projects, enhancing their research and grant-writing skills while deepening their connection to the land.
  3. Dialogue About Fast Fashion (Grades 6–8)
    • Marivell Caba Arayasirikul’s middle school students explore corporate responsibility in environmental degradation through argumentative writing and speaking, culminating in social media campaigns on ecological issues.
  4. Speculative Environmental Fiction (Grades 9–12)
    • August Freas engages high school students in writing speculative fiction addressing environmental justice and climate change, encouraging creative solutions and civic engagement.

Snapshots of Success: Elevate Environmental Learning

The ELA Superheroes podcast is not just a collection of stories; it’s a repository of inspiration and practical ideas for educators aiming to enrich their ELA curriculum with environmental literacy. Each episode includes a teaser, a full podcast, and a detailed snapshot outlining classroom practices, relevant standards, and resources. This comprehensive format ensures that educators can easily adopt and adapt these innovative strategies in their own classrooms.

By listening to the ELA Superheroes podcast, educators will:

  • Discover innovative methods to teach ELA through the context of environmental issues.
  • Learn from real-life examples of successful classroom integration of ELA and environmental literacy.
  • Access practical resources and lesson snapshots that align with California’s educational standards.

Each episode is structured to provide educators with actionable insights and resources. Teaching snapshots are featured on each of the ELA Superheroes podcast episode pages. They offer a detailed blueprint of how educators can integrate environmental literacy into their English-Language Arts curriculum. These snapshots include an overview of classroom activities, specific learning goals, standards alignment, and practical resources, providing a comprehensive guide for teachers to replicate these innovative lessons.

We understand that everyone learns differently and have offered multiple solutions for ELA teachers and others interested in expanding environmental learning. This format ensures that every listener comes away with not only inspiration but also tangible tools to enhance their teaching strategies and promote environmental literacy in their ELA curriculum.

Join the Movement

We invite all educators, especially those passionate about environmental education, to tune into the ELA Superheroes podcast. Whether you’re looking to revamp your ELA curriculum or seeking new ways to engage students with meaningful content, this podcast provides valuable insights and inspiration.

Catch the latest episodes on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and be sure to check out the recorded podcast launch party featuring our amazing ELA Superheroes. Happy listening!

For more details and to start listening, visit the ELA Superheroes podcast page.