Best Practices and Innovative Ideas in . . .

Environmental Education


5 key practices that lead to excellence in environmental education:

1) Engage students in authentic science and engineering practices so they can develop foundational knowledge, discover the natural world, and make sense of phenomena

2) Teach critical thinking skills rather than what to think about environmental issues

3) Provide opportunities for real-world problem-solving and student-led stewardship projects in the schoolyard and community

4) Build capacity for facilitating environmental ed through professional learning experiences with opportunities for educators to try out field investigations and hands-on learning; create professional learning communities for collaboration; and meet needs for supplies and materials

5) Use the environment as a context for learning any science standard and incorporate environmental education in curriculum standards

Innovative and inspirational ideas that have potential to accelerate the field:

  • Offer grade-level-specific, standards-based professional development for teachers in environmental education
    • Project WET, Project Wild, and Project Learning Tree are widely-used and venerable one-day professional development workshops that provide educators with experience teaching outdoors and K-12 curriculum materials. Traditionally, each of these courses has been taught to mixed groups of informal educators and classroom teachers at all grade levels.
    • Captain Planet Foundation has re-mixed Projects WET, Wild and Learning Tree to provide a combined one-day course for each grade level, aligned to science standards for the grade. This innovative approach reduces the amount of time required for a teacher to get certified in all three programs, and focuses the content of the combined course on learning experiences of direct relevance to the teachers
    • Replicating this approach requires facilitators in Project WET, Project Wild and Project Learning Tree who are interested in collaborating to teach the workshop. Check out this sample third grade guide for selecting workshop activities aligned to standards. For more information, contact Karan Wood at

For more information on excellence in environmental ed, check out these resources:

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