Creating Projects for the Planet- Climate Action Education for PK-12 Classrooms

Creating Projects for the Planet: Climate Action Education for PK-12 Classrooms

Attending the “Creating Projects for the Planet: Climate Action Education for PK-12 Classrooms” session was a truly inspiring experience. We gathered as educators, united by a shared vision to empower the next generation to take action for our planet. The session was a rich tapestry of ideas, practical examples, and heartfelt stories, woven together to illustrate how climate action education can be a powerful force for change.

The Power of Stories: Miss Brandie Wright’s Classroom at Yellowhab

One of the session’s highlights was the authentic and moving stories shared by Brandie Wright. Brandie, a passionate educator at Yellowhab School in Norfolk VIrginia, has been implementing TAG’s climate action projects with her students for the past year. Brandie attended this very session at ISTE 2023 last year.  At the end of the session we had a wonderful conversation about how climate action could be a part of Yellowhab. And then the most amazing thing happened: Brandie and her fellow teachers began to take consistent and meaningful climate action in their classrooms. Every week, they dedicated time to planning and implementing climate-focused projects. They crafted engaging projects for their students, facilitated in-depth research, and involved community members to bring real-world relevance to the classroom. As a result, students began to see the connections between climate and every subject area they studied, transforming their learning experience into a comprehensive exploration of sustainability.

Fast forward to ISTE 2024 where we now had the privilege of presenting with Brandie and amplifying her stories from Yellowhab. These stories were not just about teaching; they were about transformation. She spoke of how her students, through engaging in climate action projects, became more than just learners—they became advocates and change-makers.

For instance, Brandie shared a story about a project where her students studied the amount of food waste created every week just from school lunches alone. They didn’t stop at research; they took action by finding their local government officials and sending them letters urging them to take action for their community.  Hearing about the confidence and pride her students gained from these experiences was profoundly moving. It underscored the session’s theme: that when students are given the tools and support to tackle real-world problems, they can and will make a difference.

Climate Action Education: A Framework for Change

The session provided a comprehensive framework for integrating climate action education into the curriculum. We explored the latest research and trends, and discussed how these can be translated into effective classroom practices. The framework emphasized several key instructional design priorities:

  1. Global Collaboration: We learned about programs that connect classrooms around the world, enabling students to share ideas and collaborate on solutions to global challenges. This fosters a sense of global citizenship and helps students understand the interconnectedness of the issues we face.
  2. Digital Agency and Action: The session highlighted the importance of digital tools in empowering students to take action. From online research to digital storytelling, these tools can amplify student voices and expand the reach of their projects.
  3. Project-Based Learning: At the heart of climate action education is project-based learning, where students engage in meaningful projects that have a real-world impact. This approach not only deepens their understanding of the subject matter but also develops critical skills such as problem-solving and collaboration.
  4. Equity, Access, and Inclusion: Ensuring that all students have access to climate education is crucial. The session addressed ways to make climate action projects accessible to diverse student populations, and to use these projects as a means to address issues of equity and inclusion.
  5. Recognition of Learning: Celebrating and recognizing the achievements of students in climate action projects is vital for sustaining their motivation and commitment. We explored various ways to acknowledge their efforts, from digital badging to public showcases.

Showcasing Programs and Projects

Throughout the session, we were introduced to various models and programs that exemplify climate action education. These included:

  • Environmental Literacy and Service Learning: Programs that integrate environmental education with community service, fostering a deeper understanding of sustainability and civic responsibility.
  • Education for Sustainable Development: Initiatives that align with the UN Global Goals, promoting a holistic approach to sustainability education.
  • Social Good Global Collaboration Projects: Projects like the Climate Action Project and Climate Action Schools, which bring students together from around the world to work on sustainability issues.
  • EarthProject App and Climate Action Booklist: Tools and resources that support educators in integrating climate action into their classrooms.

Digital Tote

A key takeaway from the session was the importance of equipping ourselves with the tools and resources needed to implement climate action education effectively. We spent time building a digital tote that includes:

  • Resource Guides: Comprehensive guides on environmental literacy and sustainable development.
  • Technology Tools: Digital tools that facilitate collaboration, research, and project management.
  • Project Templates: Ready-to-use templates for climate action projects that can be adapted for different age groups and contexts.
  • Community Networks: Connections to networks of educators and organizations working on climate action education.

Moving Forward: Let’s Keep the Conversation Going!

As we concluded the session, there was a palpable sense of excitement and possibility. We had not only gained valuable insights and resources but also formed new connections with like-minded educators. The call to action was clear: all teachers are climate teachers.

Climate action education is not just about teaching students to care for the planet; it’s about empowering them to be the architects of a sustainable future. This session reminded us that we have the power to inspire and equip our students to make a difference. Let’s harness that power and create a brighter, more sustainable world for generations to come.