We asked three teachers who participated in the San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative (SMELC) Teacher Fellowship Program for some examples of how the program has benefitted them and their students—and why it’s vital for the long-term health of our planet.
I believe that it is our duty as educators to respond to the preponderance of evidence that has mounted, which paints a picture of a rapidly changing environment and a potentially very different socio-political future, by adapting our preschool–college instructional programs to be more reflective of that future and its predicted reality, and that prepares them for life in a world affected by human-caused climate change.
The California Global Education Project encourages teachers to design environmental literacy programs. In these programs, students addressed diverse environmental issues, ranging from researching carcinogens, reducing waste and saving marine mammals. These replicable examples show the impact of engaging younger generations to make meaningful change and promote sustainability in their communities.
As Erika Remedios explains in this essay, teaching science can be so much more than reading a textbook. Students derive more meaning from hands-on activities in nature because they bring concepts to life, making them easier to understand and less distant. What Remedios calls “transactions with nature” are ways to promote collaboration and inspire engagement from students who may otherwise have problems in a traditional classroom setting.
Rebecca Fox is a science teacher who wanted to improve her school’s curriculum to meet new content standards for K-12 science classes. But when the new standards were implemented, she found that students weren’t engaged in two fundamental approaches: scientific inquiry or the experimental process. Her passion for experiential learning drove her to find something new. Continue reading to learn how she utilized field trips and projects to get her students involved in their community.
The history of this place, and the story of what Ms. Chan and the district are doing to provide effective student-centered learning are inexorably intertwined, and illustrate another instance of how district-level support, committed educators, and community partnerships—working in concert with a place itself—enhance student engagement and support student success. Environmental literacy is woven throughout their innovative strategy to serve their students.
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