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Guide to Contextual Learning Projects

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Environmental literacy
Media literacy
Health literacy
Economic literacy
Civic literacy
Computer Technology
Data Analysis
Writing Skills
Creative and Critical Thinking

Environmental Literacy

How can community members, business leaders and educational leaders analyze environment issues and decide on personal and public actions? How can students develop environmental literacy skills that prepare them to become leaders and decision makers about environmental issues? Environmental literacy is a blend of skills, including scientific literacy – knowledge of field study methods, experimental methods, biology, engineering, technology, etc. – plus understanding of history, politics and economics. It includes critical thinking skills, reading, research, data analysis, communication and leadership.

Contextual Learning Projects. Examples of classroom, after-school program and community-based projects described in the Contextual Learning Portal include a variety of environmental projects:

  • Students design and develop a nature trail in the back of the high school for use by students and community members.
  • Students map and identify local waterways and wetlands including flora and fauna. Students will determine drinking water source(s) for the community and examine water use and costs as well as the delivery system.
  • Fourth grade classes serve as stewards of the wetlands including a vernal pool behind their school.
  • Students design and plan a community garden.
  • Students determine the electricity usage of the entire school building and practice the reduction of usage.
  • In a sixth grade leadership club, students complete a project that attempts to create an environmentally aware school. There are a variety of components involved in the project including recycling, energy conservation, and school-wide education.
  • Grade 8 students videotape and create a voice-over for grade 6 and 7 environmental projects in order to capture the steps of the scientific process as they happen.
  • Students research and observe bird behavior on and around school grounds.
  • Students conduct an interdisciplinary study about veganism.
  • Students work toward a holistic understanding of the dynamics of salt marsh restoration by studying planning documents, interacting with scientists and conducting various field studies to determine the impact of tidal restriction of a salt marsh ecosystem.

Workplace Experiences. Examples of student internship and summer jobs focused on environmental topics include:

  • An intern works on research and education projects related to coastal management for a local environmental nonprofit organization.
  • An intern works at a fish hatchery, with tasks including monitoring fish and collecting and recording data.
  • A group of interns works on energy efficiency projects, including learning skills in weatherization and solar hot water system installation.
  • A group of interns works as auditors for a weatherization project, including assessing needs, preparing cost estimates and monitoring completion of weatherization projects.
  • An intern works with a nonprofit organization that helps local growers to achieve and sustain economic success through marketing and technical assistance.
  • Interns work in urban agriculture and urban gardening, including helping to start and maintain community gardens.
  • Interns work on local farms, including varied projects in energy management, animal care, marketing and general farm work.
  • An intern works with a local elementary school’s environmental education program, including helping to develop educational activities and working on greenhouse, hydroponics, composting and recycling projects.
  • A group of interns develops educational publications for the local community on how community members can promote environmental sustainability.
  • A group of interns works as tour guides and stewards for a state park.