Monday, December 11, 2017

EEI News: Winter Edition


It's hard to believe another year is coming to an end! As we reflect over the past twelve months, we want to thank you for your ongoing commitment to bringing high-quality environmental education to your students.

In 2017 we welcomed more than 6,500 new members into our community, held more than 120 EEI Curriculum training events throughout California, and shipped out nearly 6,400 EEI Curriculum units to educators. August 2017 also marked an important milestone: our biggest month of EEI Curriculum orders ever! We couldn't have done this all without you!

The past year also saw the inclusion of California's Environmental Principles & Concepts into the state's new science framework and the adoption criteria for the recently approved K-8 history-social science textbooks. We are now working actively to include the environmental principles in the new health science framework.

As we turn the corner into the new year, we look forward to continuing to build upon these successes and to make 2018 the year for environmental literacy! Join in on the conversation on Twitter and share with us your 2017 #EnviroLiteracy accomplishments.

Happy Holidays!
The EEI Team

EEI Program Updates:


EEI Curriculum Shipping Postponement

To prevent the delivery of packages to closed schools during the winter holidays, we will temporarily postpone shipments for EEI Curriculum orders placed on or after December 13.  If you place an order during this period, your package will not arrive until the week of January 8.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Teaching About Water Supply & Nuclear Energy

Place current events into their historical contexts with these free teaching resources from the California History-Social Science Project: Oroville Dam and California's Challenge with Water Supply and Breaking Down the Iran Nuclear Deal. These articles are part of the Current Context series which focuses on current events and the environment. Both articles list suggested EEI Curriculum units to use with these topics.

Tweet Us Your Photos of the EEI Curriculum In Action!

This school year we've received lots of fun photos from teachers and students using the EEI Curriculum. Let's continue this trend into the new year! Be sure to tag @CaEEI in your photos and we may feature you on our page!

Award & Grant Opportunities:

Building the Environmental Literacy of K-12 Students and Public for Community Resilience
NOAAs Environmental Literacy Program provides grants and in-kind support for programs that educate and inspire people to use Earth systems science to improve ecosystem stewardship and increase resilience to environmental hazards.
Award Amount: $250k - $500k
Deadline: December 19, 2017

Deadline Extended! U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools
The U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award honors schools, school districts, and Institutes of Higher Education for excellence in resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability education
Deadline: January 12, 2018

Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators
This award from the U.S. EPA recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.
Award Amount: $2,500
Deadline: March 1, 2018

President's Environmental Youth Award
This award from the U.S. EPA recognizes outstanding environmental projects by K-12 youth. The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement.
Deadline: March 1, 2018

Environmental Literacy in the News:


Fires, floods, hurricanes: Teachers Turn National Disasters into Science and History Lessons

Next Generation Science Standards program underway at CES

An Important Milestone for Environmental Literacy with Assessment

Friday, September 22, 2017

EEI News: Fall Edition


Welcome Back!

We hope that you've had a fun and relaxing summer vacation! As you head back into the classroom, don't forget to use the EEI Curriculum to help engage your students in relevant, real-world science and history-social science lessons that foster environmental literacy.

If you're unsure which EEI Curriculum unit to teach, follow along with us on Facebook and Twitter as we highlight a new EEI Curriculum unit each week. It's a great way to learn more about our units and preview lesson plans and teaching components. Follow along and use hashtag #ExploreEEI to join in on the conversation!



Teaching About Fire in California

Make sure you don't miss the latest installment of Current Context from our friends at the California History-Social Science Project, available now for free download.  This issue, Our Complicated Relationship with Fire, is the first in a series that includes a focus on the environment.  As Hurricane Harvey has demonstrated once again, human history is inextricably linked to the natural world. "Fire has its own influence and power over us, too, and our history, as well as the Earth's, will always be linked by fire." There is also an accompanying teaching blog which outlines suggested EEI Curriculum units that address the relationship between fire and human history.

Join EEI at the California Science Education Conference

Want to learn how to use EEI Curriculum resources to support environment-based 3D learning? Join us for our session at the CSTA's Science Education Conference in Sacramento on Friday, October 13 @ 2:30p.m. More details to come, including room number. Check back soon on our conference webpage.

Teams Wanted for Environmental Literacy Short Course

The Environmental Literacy Steering Committee is looking for teams of district personnel, administrators, and teachers to participate in a short course at the California Science Education Conference in Sacramento. The course, "Teaching CA NGSS Through Environmental Literacy" will take place on October 14 from 8:20 - 11:30 a.m. Participants will examine classroom examples and will learn how California’s Science Framework connects to the implementation of CA Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts, and environmental literacy. More information here.

Apply for the 2018 Green Ribbon Schools

The California Department of Education is now accepting applications for the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools. This award honors schools and school districts for excellence in resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability education. Interested applicants should take this brief survey and online application by December 6, 2017.

Environmental Literacy in the News:

Science education inspires PUSD teachers to use the environment as a classroom 

How Environment-Based Learning Encouraged me to Master Next Generation Science Standards

Creec Coordinators Connect Educators to Local Ecosystem

Stanford Analysis Reveals Wide Array of Benefits from Environmental Education

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sacramento High School Teacher Integrates Environmental Literacy into Classroom

Kyle McDaniel is an Earth Science teacher at Grant Union High School in Sacramento. He is integrating environmental literacy into his classroom instruction by using the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum as a foundation for his science classes. 
CalRecycle’s EEI curriculum teaches K-12 science and history-social science through an environmental lens. The EEI curriculum is a model for upcoming science and history-social science textbook adoptions, which are required to integrate environmental principles and concepts. 

McDaniel appreciates the flexibility of the curriculum. “If I’m looking for a two-week curriculum that is self-contained and student-driven, I look at the available units on the subject I’m teaching,” says McDaniel. EEI curriculum spans kindergarten through 12th grade and includes 6 biology units, 6 earth science units, and 45 history-social science units that incorporate environmental literacy into topics like world history, economics, and American democracy.

McDaniel looks for ways to teach earth science concepts in light of current events. He is currently teaching an EEI curriculum unit on California’s water, titled Liquid Gold: California’s Water. “Water is an important topic in California right now. Students can learn about the political debate around emergency drought water restrictions staying in place. The California drought is so current and so important in their lives.”

McDaniel loves the flexibility of the EEI curriculum. “I print the student reader material and instruct students to take notes on the pages.” McDaniel encourages students to keep their student workbook and take it home with them at the end of the unit.  He allows students to use the reader booklets during tests, too, but he requires that students properly cite their sources. “I wanted a closer alignment between finding information, extracting it, and citing it. Students need to be able to learn how to cite their evidence.”

McDaniel uses the EEI curriculum to take students outside to study their campus environment. Students toured their campus and noted on a map the areas of their school property that had surfaces permeable to water. “I wanted students to analyze how water moves around our campus. After a rainstorm, where does the water flow? Where does pollution end up?” McDaniel also incorporates geometry to help students calculate the surface area of the campus. “There are a lot of topics you can cover with an EEI unit,” says McDaniel. In the coming weeks, students will be using water quality probes to gather water samples from different places in the community to analyze the pH, salinity, and turbidity of water.

McDaniel first heard about the Education and Environment Initiative at the California Education Seminar in Sacramento. “I attended a workshop and met another teacher using it. I learned about the different units and how to use it in my classroom. Since then I’ve taught biology and earth science using EEI,” recalls McDaniel.

If you’d like to learn more about the EEI curriculum please visit Teachers interested in using the curriculum can choose to attend an in-person training or watch a pre-recorded webinar.

This article was originally published in the CalRecycle blog. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

EEI News: Spring Edition

It's hard to believe that we are more than half-way through the school year and spring is just around the corner! This Sunday is Daylight Saving Time so as you move your clock forward (and struggle with losing that hour of extra sleep), grab a cup of coffee, and cozy up to this latest edition of the EEI news.

Lodi Students Learn about California Watershed with the EEI Curriculum

Three years ago, Kathy Grant, the City of Lodi Watershed Program Coordinator, enlisted the help of CalRecycle’s Office of Education and the Environment (OEE) to organize a free teacher professional development program to equip educators with resources to teach students about water. Read more.

EdSource Article Features Environmental Principles & Concepts

In case you missed it! A recent EdSource article entitled "California renews push to promote environmental literacy in schools" featured the Environmental Principles and Concepts and the EEI Curriculum. Read the article here.

Join us at the NSTA Conference in Los Angeles

Planning to attend the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) conference in LA? We'll be presenting a session entitled, "Using the Environment as a Springboard to Real World 3D Learning" on March 30 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more information, please visit our conferences page.

2017 CSTA Conference: Call for Environmental Literacy Workshop Proposals

We are pleased to announce that the 2017 California Science Education Conference will include an environmental literacy strand. Interested educators who can provide teachers with resources that promote environmental literacy and specifically address implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards are encouraged to apply. Applications are due March 20. Learn more.

Parent Feedback Needed on Environment-Based Learning

The statewide Environmental Literacy Steering Committee is seeking parent feedback for a statewide initiative that will bring environment-based learning to all of California’s 6.2 million K–12 students. A facilitated listening session will take place remotely on March 15, 2017 from 7:00–8:30 pm. If you are interested in participating, please sign up here. Parents selected to participate in the session will receive detailed call-in instructions, as well as a $50 gift card as a thank you for their contribution.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lodi Students Learn About California Watersheds with the EEI Curriculum

Three years ago, Kathy Grant, the City of Lodi Watershed Program Coordinator, enlisted the help of CalRecycle’s Office of Education and the Environment (OEE) to organize a free teacher professional development program to equip educators with resources to teach students about water. The event was such a success that the city has continued to offer the program to new teachers each school year.

The foundational piece of the City of Lodi’s program is the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum, a free K-12 resource from CalRecycle that uses the environment as a context for learning science and history-social science. More than half of the EEI curriculum addresses the topic of water and complements the city’s efforts to incorporate field trips, journalism, and community art into science education.

This year’s Free Annual EEI Workshop was held in September and drew 21 teachers from the Lodi Unified School District. Teachers trained in past years’ programs returned to share stories about their experience with the curriculum and offer advice to new teachers. This year, Grant also invited representatives from the California Water Education Foundation and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, both of which offer resources that can complement the EEI curriculum. The California Water Education Foundation provides water conservation resources such as the Project WET curriculum, and the Department of Parks and Recreation’s PORTS program offers online, virtual field trip resources for teachers and students.

If teachers choose to use the EEI curriculum, the watershed program offers a $200 stipend for their classroom. Every year, she sees five to ten teachers start using the curriculum, which represents hundreds of students throughout the city.

“Every year there’s a new face, which is all I’m personally after,” Grant says. “The teachers who use EEI become involved in the local community. We see students and teachers participating in cleanup events near local watersheds.”

Grant is especially excited that so many educators use the curriculum as a starting place for field trips. Many teachers have reported that using the EEI curriculum in the classroom is a great way to build their students’ knowledge on a subject before venturing out on field trips. As a result, Lodi Unified teachers are taking their students out of the classrooms and into the mountains, to the Delta, to the Pacific Ocean, to see the Sandhill Cranes, and to study water quality in different watersheds around the region.

Watershed field trips make a big impact on Lodi students. To memorialize the experience, Grant has been instrumental in coordinating a clay art build by inviting Davis clay artist Donna Billick to help students sculpt a clay mandala depicting the wildlife they saw on a field trip. Students at Heritage Elementary built a clay mural that was ultimately installed at the Lodi Library entrance.

If you would like to host a similar training in your community, please visit the California Education and the Environment website and contact your local environmental education specialist.

Grant is pleased that the program has been so successful. At the end of the school year, teachers return to the workshop to present their experiences to the EEI workshop. “That’s probably the best meeting,” says Grant. “Teachers get to talk to and learn from each other.” Grant also oversees a blog dedicated to Lodi teachers using the EEI curriculum to educate students about California’s watersheds.

The EEI curriculum supports Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, and it works well for integration with curricula for accelerated classes as well as for English language learners and students with special needs. Grant observed one class field trip during which students captured leaves, bugs, and water in a watershed. “It was rewarding to see students struggling with English get excited about looking at bugs under a microscope,” Grant says. Advanced students take field trips a step further and write newspaper articles about their favorite trip or project. Their articles are published in the Mokelumne Current, a section of the Lodi Sentinel Newspaper.

“Water is the most important resource we have,” Grant says. “It cuts across cultures. We shouldn’t take it for granted. The younger we can impress this upon kids, the better.”

If you would like to learn more about the Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum, please visit our website at The curriculum features both science and history-social science, and free face-to-face and online trainings make it easy for teachers to start utilizing the curriculum right away.

—Christina Files

 This article was originally published on the CalRecycle blog.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Los Angeles Teacher Becomes 10,000th EEI Educator!

When elementary school teacher Hannah Estes sat down at her computer to order “Living Things in Changing Environments” she had no idea she would earn the distinction of becoming the 10,000th teacher to order an EEI Curriculum unit!

Estes, a third grade teacher from Williard F. Payne Elementary in Los Angeles, learned about the EEI by attending a summer teaching institute offered by her school district. 

When asked what convinced her to give the EEI Curriculum a try in her classroom, the veteran teacher of 24 years said she was impressed with the curriculum’s high-quality visuals and how it centers around California.

 “I have a large percentage of English learners in my classroom and they find the content comprehensible and engaging. I was also attracted to the focus on California-based environmental issues and the connections to ELA as well as social studies content standards,” said Estes.

Estes has since received her free copy of “Living Things in Changing Environments” and has used it with her students. She says the EEI Curriculum is fitting nicely into her lesson plans. “The students are very connected to the message that humans and living things cause change to the environment. They look forward to our science lesson every day.”

Take a moment to welcome Hannah into the EEI community by leaving a comment below!

Environmental Literacy Gets Boost from Newly Approved Science Framework

You might have heard that California became the first state in the country to adopt a new science framework based on the Next Generation Science Standards, but did you know that this framework also includes an explicit focus on the teaching of environmental literacy?

For the first time in state history, the framework incorporates five key environmental principles and concepts (EP&Cs) designed to help students understand the complex relationship between humans and the natural world.

The EP&Cs will sound familiar to readers of this blog since they are the building blocks for the environmental content taught in the EEI Curriculum. They state that humans depend on, benefit from, and influence the earth’s natural systems. As students master these concepts and learn to apply them in real world situations, their environmental literacy grows. 

Teachers will find the framework a helpful resource because it provides examples of how the environment can be used as an authentic, relevant, and engaging context for teaching the NGSS. Within the framework, teachers will find a number of  vignettes – stories that illustrate what three-dimensional environment-based lessons look like.

For example, middle school students may be presented with the engineering challenge of figuring out how to divert rainwater away from road surfaces, where it can pick up oil, grit, and other pollutants, and, instead, redirect it into the ground to minimize flooding and maximize filtration. Seventh grade students may be tasked with graphing fish populations under various global warming scenarios. High school chemistry students can explore the increasing acidification of the world’s oceans, the causes, and potential remedies.

Appendix 2 of the framework, entitled K-12 Connections to Environmental Principles and Concepts, is another useful resource for understanding how specific NGSS standards can be supported by the EP&Cs.

State officials and education experts agree that using the environment as a context for learning is a great way to get more kids excited about science. And now more than ever it is important that our students not just “know” about the environment – they also need to be critical consumers of information and problem solvers. In this way our future citizenry will be prepared to tackle and offer solutions to the complex environmental challenges that effect our everyday lives.

In addition to offering teachers guidance on how to incorporate environmental literacy into their classroom instruction, the framework will guide textbook publishers in the creation of new science materials. This means that state-adopted textbooks arriving in 2018-19 will feature lessons that help students see the real world connections between science, the environment, and their daily lives . This is exciting news for everyone involved in the effort to bring standards-based environmental education to California K-12 classrooms.

The final draft of the 2015-2016 Science Framework approved by the California State Board of Education can be viewed here.

What steps are you taking to bring environmental literacy to your students? Let us know in the comment section below!