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Environmental Education: An Appealing Pathway to Project-Based Guided Investigations (January 2023): Creating Curriculum Using Popular Delivery Models and Curricular Approaches

By Stephen T. Schroth and Janese Daniels

Creating Curriculum Using Popular Delivery Models and Curricular Approaches

We began this essay by highlighting that environmental and sustainability education is such an attractive area of study because it may be presented to students of any age and in conjunction with any subject, yet it is especially well suited for inquiry-based learning that guides children to identify a problem, devise possible solutions, and then test those solutions through implementation. Some books that review this process include Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning by John Larmer, John Mergendoller, and Suzie Boss; Core Practices for Project-Based Learning by Pam Grossman et al.; and Project Based Teaching, again by Boss and Larmer. Inquiry-based learning can be used with a variety of subjects, as shown by Heather Wolpert-Gawron’s DIY Project Based Learning for Math and Science and DIY Project Based Learning for ELA and History. For a detailed approach to learning and instruction, readers should peruse The Multiple Menu Model by Joseph Renzulli, Jann Leppein, and Thomas Hays. Readers may also wish to turn to Charles Reigeluth and Yunjo An’s Merging the Instructional Design Process with Learner-Centered Theory for an excellent overview of instructional design theories and practices.

Many schools struggle with how to fit environmental and sustainability learning within the instructional day, with environmental education initiatives often influenced by decisions relating to how other services are provided. High schools often solve this problem by offering specific classes dedicated to the subject. For schools at other levels, or for those not fortunate enough to be able to offer such courses, some thought about how, where, and when to insert environmental and sustainability into the school day is needed. Within the field, varied approaches are often referred to as program models, reflecting that there are choices about how schools and districts may provide environmental and sustainability education services to the students they serve. Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis describe a popular approach in The Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Other popular approaches are outlined in Enhancing and Expanding Gifted Programs, by Donald Treffinger et al.; The Parallel Curriculum, by Carol Ann Tomlinson et al.; and Autonomous Learner Model Resource Book by George Betts, Robin Carey, and Blanche Kapushion. Each book discussed here represents an approach that is common both in the United States and abroad. Although popular with parents and teachers, these books are especially useful for environmental and sustainability education program coordinators and administrators responsible for programs that serve large numbers of children.

A variety of resources deliver useful explorations of other popular instructional approaches and teaching strategies for working with multiple abilities in a single classroom, including ways to create the time needed to devote to environmental and sustainability education. These books include How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Curriculum Compacting by Sally Reis, Joseph Renzulli, and Deborah Burns. Tomlinson’s So Each May Soar is also useful for reminding readers of the importance of relevant, rigorous, and enriching projects. These books provide comprehensive reviews of teaching and learning strategies that can be used to develop and implement a curriculum that explores environmental and sustainability education in a classroom, a whole school, or even across a school district. They can be especially helpful in building support for environmental and sustainability education programs, and for plotting what sorts of evaluation plans are needed to assess a mature program’s effectiveness.

Works Cited