Environmental Education And Environmental Literacy

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Environmental literacy, in my mind, is closely related to being prepared for the world. These skills extend beyond understanding the basics of the life systems of our planet; environmental literacy prepares students to bridge the gap between understanding issues and taking actions to solve and improve problems. Middle schoolers have strong questioning skills--questioning me and my teaching initiatives, questioning their parents or guardians, questioning expectations and questioning their friends. I observe that these questioning skills dissipate when I ask students to question things about what they see outside or what they think about different scientific issues. Inquiry and questioning is a sign of environmental literacy (Kennedy and Stromme,…show more content…
When I think back to what’s worked well in engaging students in real-world learning, the many activities listed above are the focus. No matter what I know works best for students, it’s not an easy process to assure that I use an environmental education lens to teach. I feel that the education system doesn’t quite support this teaching lens and that other teachers, parents and administration don’t value environmental education as much as I do. There is a real struggle in meeting principal, student, colleague, district and parent expectations and meeting my own expectations. One thing I am certain of is that many students welcome the opportunity to learn about real things, venture outside while experiencing, learning and talking about issues that matter.

Here is a list of my question and concerns regarding Environmental Education:
With growing class sizes (35-36 students), some people feel that taking students outside cannot be done with proper supervision while ensuring that learning happens. Is this a common concern and how do environmental educators in the formal teaching world respond?
There seems to be a growing population that struggles to engage outside whether it’s sensory overload or challenges because of a different structure of learning. What are strategies to use to tackle this while interacting with
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In my “real” world, this isn’t the case, but I still have big dreams of what I want to do in my classroom in regards to environmental education. Here are some of my current approaches to using environmental education in my formal, middle school (7th grade) life science class:
Observation making: we go outside to see the real, natural systems before we dive into the complexities of the systems. We make observations about these systems and focus on using details, drawings, sketches and specific coloring to aid in communicating with our observations. We use guidebooks to identify different species depending on what our learning target is that day. Within the classroom, we create more meaning with our observations when we discuss some of the science behind what students see and
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