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!

Monday, September 12, 2016

A New Look for a New School Year

If you haven't visited the California EEI website recently, now would be a great time to do so!

Over the past year we've been busy re-designing and upgrading our website to improve the overall user experience. We believe this has resulted in a clean, crisp, and modern feel that makes it easier to read and use and better showcases the EEI curriculum and our training services.

We hope that you are as happy with these changes as much as we are! Please read on to learn more about some of the key changes to the site:

Improved EEI Curriculum Unit Database

The Access EEI page, which houses our 85 science and history-social science units, has been redesigned so that you don't have to scroll as far to find your desired unit.

In addition, the new simplified filter option allows you to find units based on grade level/course, environmental topic, or subject area. 

Dedicated EEI Unit Pages

Now you can click on a specific EEI unit and be directed to a dedicated page for that unit.

These unit pages provide a detailed description of the unit, associated environmental topics, and links to all unit components in PDF format. Best of all you can now use your browser's bookmark tool to save your favorite units for quick and easy access. Also it will make it easier for you to share your favorite units with colleagues and friends. Simply copy/paste the url for the specific unit into the body of an email or a social media post and click send!

Brand New Content

In addition to our redesign, we also debuted several new pieces of web content. These include:

Thank you for your web visits and your continual support of the EEI Curriculum! Let us know what you think of these changes in the comment section below or send an email to

Friday, September 2, 2016

Welcome to our new blog!

Welcome to the California Education and the Environment Initiative's (EEI) new blog. This space will be used to share news and updates about the EEI curriculum and the State of California's environmental literacy efforts.

As we build this blog, we intend to feature information about specific EEI units, highlight teacher and student stories from the classroom, and share recommendations for materials and resources that can be used alongside the EEI curriculum. 

We also hope that this space will serve as an additional area for you to interact with us and your fellow EEI teachers. Please feel free to comment and ask questions in the comment section below each blog article. Share your thoughts on environment-based learning, tell us what's worked and what hasn't worked in your classroom, or simply offer tips and advice to teachers who are looking for guidance - let's learn together!

We look forward to building this community with you and thank you for stopping by!