Integrate EE in K-12 Schools for Environmental Literacy
Teachers across the nation recognize the importance of using Environmental Education (EE) in their classrooms to enhance student learning. Here in Hawaii, we have an outdoor classroom and indigenous knowledge like no other place in the world. Building upon the guidance and knowledge of others, we developed an integrated plan and coordinated efforts to help bridge the concept of EE into implementation. The listed objectives describe how the Hawaiʻi Environmental Literacy Plan (HELP) aims to address Goal 1, Integrating EE in K-12 Schools for Environmental Literacy, and the actions associated with each objective. Our unique natural environments are living classrooms for our keiki to learn in that strengthen their relationships with place and understanding of how to care for and tend to the natural resources of Hawaiʻi.
The Hawaiʻi Environmental Education Alliance (HEEA) has been addressing these objectives collectively over a 3 year period producing different Environmental Education (EE) opportunities for students and educators. The emphasis of Ko Kākou Pilina, integrating EE in K-12 schools for Enivronmental Literacy (EL), relates to the bringing together of diverse groups of formal educators familiar with DOE standards, STEM, NGSS, and Nā Hōnua Mauli ʻOla guidelines to make a comprehensive list of how environmental education aligns with the standards and guidelines. To address this goal HEEA has created various EE resources for educators such as the HEEA website. This resources is a hub of information relating to EE and EL that educators can easily access to attain various information relating to current EE community events, EE curricula, EE careers, and EE collaborators. The intent is to provide educators with resources that enable them to strengthen environmental literacy in education.
Collaborative efforts must be made in order to strengthen Environmental Literacy (EL) in Hawaiʻi. The HEEA website is an strong example of the many ways HEEA works to provide educators with easily accessible resources and connections to collaborators. The HEEA website can be utilized as a tool in schools to encourage the development of more environmental education-based service learning opportunities with partners as we as enable a network of island representatives to conduct outreach to government agencies, non-profit organizations and businesses to inform them of school needs in their area. Strengthening our relationships with one another allows us to build and maintain the collaborative efforts of K-12 initiatives (Exemplary State STEM program, Global Natural History Day Project, exemplary charter school environmental education programs) being implemented statewide.
Make Environmental Education and Environmental Literacy a Statewide Priority
Hawai‘i residents are very supportive of including environmental
studies in the public school curriculum, based on responses to a
Mälama Hawai‘i research survey of about 600 residents in 2000
Objective 1: Raise public opinion of environmental education and environmental literacy as not only a good idea but something that the public should fund adequately.
Ma ka hana ka ʻike, in learning one does. As we introduce our efforts to communities throughout Hawaiʻi, we raise awareness to the current local efforts to improve Environmental Literacy (EL) through Environmental Education (EE) within their communities and statewide. In order to increase public awareness and opinion of EE we must create opportunities for our community members to become more involved in EE projects and events being conducted in their communities. The Nā Waʻa Mauō marine monitoring program is one example of how local EE activities and research efforts can create a pathway for community members to become more involved on marine monitoring efforts in their coastal oceans. Through engagement one learns of the value of the experience and the importance of providing these opportunities.
By utilizing the HEEA Network and resources for networking, outreach and leadership statewide through our various resources and programs educators are able to engage in meaningful EE experiences they can share with their students. Through diverse pathways and forums educators can develop relationships with one another to further strengthen the EL relationships and experiences statewide. These relationships enlarge educators’ opportunities to experience and implement the EE in their community and classroom.
Develop and Support Learning Environments that Promote Environmental Literacy
The ultimate goal of environmental education is the development of an environmentally literate citizenry. Environmental literacy is not, however, a goal that is reached easily. We are asking individuals to go beyond the fact by fact, piece by piece examination of our environment and begin to understand and think in terms of systems bound together. We are asking individuals to develop a sophisticated set of skills that allow them to solve novel environmental problems and determine the best set of actions. We are asking individuals to become thoughtful, skillful, and active citizens in a democracy.
Ke Kākoʻo paʻa focuses on the develoment and support of Environmental Literacy (EL) through the application of hands-on learning experiences that take students out of the classroom and into their surrounding envrionment. Through such things as the creation of a school garden and participation in community beach clean-up events students are learn the importance of caring for and sustaining our natural resources. The various Evironmental Education (EE) curricula created in Hawaiʻi by Hawaiʻi educators have been designed to take students out in their envrionment. HEEA has provided educator support to assist in the creation and design of environmental education curricula that is adaptable for various grade levels for teachers to readily utilize. HEEA has also provided pathways for new partners (organizations, parents, and other community members) to volunteer at different community events and to Inform teachers about field trips, study sites and funding opportunities in their school, complex areas, and across the state through an up to date HEEA website. Collectively, Ke Kākoʻo Paʻa works to develop diverse learning opportunities for students that are outside and hands-on through interactive EE curriculua that can be easily modified to fit any K-12 grade level.
How do we do it? We rely on our partners, our teachers, our administrators, our community, our families, and our students. Together, we can bring educators to conservation and community organizations that want to perpetuate their conservation and stewardship programs. We can bring together our cultural practitioners and formal educators to perpetuate understanding of values and practices to malama aina. We are in this together.
Improve Professional Development for Environmental Literacy
This section focuses heavily on an important document produced by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) as part of the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education. Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators was first produced in 2000 and updated in 2010 by a collaborative team of experienced environmental educators across the United States. The objectives in this section highlight how HELP will support the effort to strengthen, diversify, and implement EE in Professional Development (PD) experience for educators in Hawaiʻi. In supporting our educators we support our keiki and their families in environmental literacy and education.
The Pilina Programs created by HEEA offer professional development (PD) opportunities for educators in Hawaiʻi and nationally. The Pilina program is a PD workshop that enables participating educators to attaind PDe3 credit for attending the workshop and creating a comprehensive educator portfolio comprised of various educational resources such as environmental education (EE) curricula and outreach education opportunities. The HEEA website provides up to date information relating to the Pilina Program and other PDe3 credited course oportunites being offered throughout Hawaiʻi.
We have developed a professional development training that provides State Department of Education (DOE) credit for teachers who successfully attend and implement EE in their classroom. HEEA's Pilina Program unites teachers and community resources for environmental education. The program has been developed to serve areas throughout the state, and provides the teachers with the opportunity to experience a variety of EE curricula that is aligned to National and State Standards. It allows the teachers to experience locally-avaiable field-trip sites, get to know locally-based conservation partners and how to work together to implement EE, and provides guidance on how to successfully integrate materials and experiences into lesson plans. Participants will be exposed to a network of EE providers, partners, and support personnel from their island and across the state, including Federal, State, County, and non-profit environmental/conservation groups.
Hawai'i Environmental Literacy Plan (HELP)
The Hawai‘i Environmental Literacy Plan is based on the tenet that high-quality environmental education will lead to environmental literacy. In other words, if environmental literacy is the desired output, then environmental education is the desired input. Our plan guides our work, and aims to meet the goals and objectives that are found throughout this poster.
Together with other teachers, administrators, organizations, government, and community, we aim to implement EE. HEEA was formed to bring together partners to help create an environmentally literate community. This poster provides a snapshot of our goals and objectives
HELP Key Themes
Key themes have guided the development of this plan. Some of the themes come from national efforts (North American Association for Environmental Education 2004) to improve the delivery of EE, and others come from Hawaiian values. These themes are as follows:
- Hawaiian values of aloha ‘āina (love for the land), mālama ‘āina (caring for the land), kuleana (rights and responsibility), kōkua (helping one another), lōkahi (harmony), imi ‘ike (seeking knowledge),
- Ho‘owaiwai – to enrich and bring prosperity; taking care of wai (water/wealth) is a shared kuleana because it affects us all; let our relationships with the environment and each other enrich us.
- Ma ka hana ka ‘ike – learn by doing; true understanding (literacy) comes from immersion and direct experience.
- He wa‘a he moku, he moku he wa`a (the canoe is an island, the island is a canoe) – We must live on these islands as if we were on a canoe, caring for our limited resources and one another, and moving in one direction, together.
As we move to strengthen EL and EE in Hawaiʻi, we need to understand the uniqueness and vulnerability of our Hawaiian Islands. The Native Hawaiian culture deeply rooted in the diverse environments of Hawaiʻi. The Native Hawaiian culture provides a wealth of information about our natural resources that can contribute to how we care for and sustain them today. Integrating knowledge systems in environmental management and education in Hawaiʻi enriches our relationships and experiences as educators and natural resource stewards that in turn enables our natural resources to strengthen and thrive. As we move towards becoming more self-sustaining and less dependent on outside resources, we gain guidance from our Native Hawaiian culture and conservation practices, learning how to respectfully and humbly apply them in EL and EE efforts statewide.
Monitor and Assess Environmental Literacy
This section addresses the fundamental question: “How do we know if our efforts are working?” The prevailing methods of educational monitoring and assessment often involve some form of testing. However, just as teaching EE should not be limited to lessons on paper and in classrooms, neither should evaluating EL be confined to those parameters. By diversifying our monitoring and assessment approach we learn more from participants about how our efforts are impacting their learning experience.
Objective 1: Develop tools that collect Environmental Literacy assessment data in HIDOE K-12 settings on a schedule consistent with existing assessments and share these tools with independent schools.
Objective 2: Support HIDOE in reaching benchmark for on-time high school graduation rates through environmental education.
Objective 3: The “Hawaii Green Schools” program will monitor the achievements of participating schools each year.
Objective 4: Provide training and other support to enable educators to effectively evaluate environmental education programs.
Objective 5: Evaluate HELP implementation
The HEEA administrative board is comprised of formal and non-formal educators and was created to further support the objectives of the Hawaiʻi Environmental Literacy Plan (HELP). The development of the working group has enabled HEEA to address and execute the objectives of HELP through the creation of professional development opportunities such as the island hui meetings. These meetings provide educators with the opportunity to informally engage with their peers and share the diverse ways they are implementing Environmental Literacy (EL) through EE. The administrative board also provides support with curricula evaluation and assessment to ensure the content aligns with the NGSS and national science standards. The intent is to ensure fluid support for EE educators and programs throughout the entire process of strengthening EL in their classroom and community. HEEA administrative board assists in aligning environmental education programs with science standards and methodologies as well as infusing environmental education opportunities with service learning. Collectively, it takes a hui (group/village) to support our keiki and their learning experiences and as a hui we can achieve this goal of strengthening Environmental Literacy (EL) in Hawaiʻi.
Collaborative efforts contribute to the strengthening of Environmental Literacy in Hawaiʻi. Through the development of different hui (cohorts/groups) that work collectively together we are able to make great progress in EL and EE. Through strong partnerships with community, county, state, and national collaborators who carry the same rooted interest, we are able to support the application and evolution of environmental education. HEEA working board addresses many of the administrative needs required to implement professional development programs such as the Island Hui Meetings. This reflects the various components that function together to ensure productive and consistent support for educators and our collaborating partners.
Provide Sustainable Funding for Environmental Literacy
While teaching environmental and sustainability education does not need to cost a lot of money, there are certain types of expenses that, if allowable, would enhance EL. For example, field trips enable students to relate EL to “real world” experiences outside of school.
HEEA worked to attain funding support that enabled us to provide various educator experiences that strengthened EL and EE in Hawaiʻi. HEEA was able to create diverse professional development and environmental education experiences for educators that introduced them many EE curricula they would be able to share with their students in active classroom activities and outdoor field trip excursions. In order to maintain the opportunities HEEA provides for educators and students continual funding must occur. Through partnerships and collaborations with other EE agencies and programs HEEA has been able to establish long lasting relationships that could further support our efforts in EE.
As HEEA continues to strengthen relationships with many community and state partners, we continue to build the community and political support for local legislation that supports securing annual funding for implementation of HELP. To continue providing the unique professional development opportunities for educators, HEEA aims to continue nurturing our partner relationships and focusing on the true intent of our alliance. This intent is to strengthen Environmental Literacy through Environmental Education in Hawaiʻi for our keiki and our Kumu.