Research across the country has demonstrated that student achievement improves when the environment is integrated into learning, in reading, math, and other subjects. In 2010, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $300,000 to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to support environmental and outdoor education efforts at six pilot schools during the 2011-2013 school years. The report (linked below) includes:
- A comprehensive evaluation of the project's impact on students and teachers
- Descriptions of the pilot schools’ projects, which point to how other schools can implement similar programs
- Case studies from Minnesota schools that have won the U.S. Department of Energy’s Green Ribbon Schools designation, with examples of what schools can do to become more green
Go to the SEEK Resources directory to find sample lesson plans for environmental and outdoor education, such as Building a Rain Barrel (Grades 9-12), Identifying Organisms in the Environment (Grades 11-12), and Local Weathering and Erosion (Grade 5).
Environment as integrating context (EIC)
EIC is a teaching method that uses natural and cultural environments as contexts for learning. EIC-based learning is not primarily focused on environmental learning, nor is it limited to developing environmental awareness. It is about using a school's surroundings and community as a framework within which students can construct their own learning.
The Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning (executive summary) report is the story of the schools, teachers, and students involved in implementing EIC. It presents the results of a nationwide study and describes the major concepts and assumptions underlying EIC. In profiling 40 EIC-based programs across the United States, the report identifies the characteristics of successful programs and analyzes the implications of EIC-based education for student learning and instruction.
We3 Education Initiative
The We Learn, We Save, We Win (We3) Education Initiative links environmental activities and resources from state agencies and businesses to the classroom. The idea is to engage students with relevant and authentic investigative learning that begins at the classroom level.
We3 lesson plans
- Water Habitat Site Study (Grade 5), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Growing Germs in a Petri Dish (Grade 7), Minnesota Department of Health
- Ladybugs to the Rescue (Grade 3), Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- The Business of Recycling (Grades 8-12), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- Electricity & Energy Conservation (Grade 6), Xcel Energy
National Wildlife Federation Wildlife and nature lesson plans and resources for educators
Minnesota Association for Environmental Education Coordinates an annual conference, recognizes successful EE, supports legislation that advances EE, and shares resources among its members
Minnesota Naturalists’ Association Organization of professional environmental educators, park rangers, naturalists, interpreters and volunteers
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Offers teacher trainings, outdoor classroom development assistance, workshops, safety-education classes, and naturalist-led programs at state parks