Teacher Resources

Curriculum Links to Environmental and Sustainability Education and Action

 

Teaching about environmental sustainability has never been more important as we increasingly feel the effects of an unsustainable human footprint on the planet’s systems.  Albertans are not immune to these stresses: wildfires, extreme weather events, flooding, and a faltering economy define our new reality.  Students, who are staring at an uncertain if not bleak future, are feeling the weight of these challenges. 

As teachers, educators, and parents, we have a responsibility to equip students to help build a brighter, more sustainable future.  The Alberta Teachers Association agrees.  In August 2020 the ATA adopted two important resolutions: 

     3-13/20 BE IT RESOLVED that the Association accept the scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is a real and critical challenge affecting the planet and the future of humanity.


     3-14/20 BE IT RESOLVED that the Association support the inclusion of curriculum that explicitly addresses issues relating to anthropogenic climate change in a manner that is subject and age appropriate.

But with a new curriculum still months, if not years, away, is it possible for teachers to weave more environmental and sustainability education into their everyday practice while delivering on the current curriculum?  The answer is a resounding YES!  The current curriculum provides ample opportunity to make connections with the following sustainability themes:

  • Nature and place
  • Indigenous perspectives
  • Climate change
  • Municipal environmental and climate action plans and strategies

Making these connections creates wonderful opportunities to engage and inspire students as they explore and learn about their own surroundings and community, develop a greater sense of connectedness with the natural world and the great web of life, acquire an enhanced sense of well-being and belonging, learn to be good local and global citizens, are empowered to be real-world problem-solvers and as a result, feel more hopeful for the future.    

Environmental and sustainability education needs to be age-appropriate.  For example, the focus for younger students should be on connecting with nature, and understanding the interconnections among plants, animals, ecosystems - and themselves.  Where does the water I drink everyday come from?  Where does the food I eat come from?  How does my own health depend on healthy ecosystems?  This is also a great time to instill good environmental and climate ‘habits’, like turning lights and electronics off when not in use, and reducing waste.  It’s never too early to help students understand that the energy and resources we use to help make our lives better are precious and should not be wasted.  Likewise, students of all ages can benefit from being introduced to the wisdom of Indigenous perspectives and teachings regarding key concepts like relationships, connectedness, and reciprocity with Mother Earth.  As students get older, they can progressively learn more about the underlying causes and complexities of our most pressing environmental issues including climate change.  

For all ages, environmental education experts emphasize the importance of not spending all our time in the ‘problem space’ but rather, making sure to invite students into the ‘solution space’.  Of course, we need to understand problems in order to solve them but it’s important not to stop there because this will only fuel anxiety and despair.  Teachers should always strive to invite students in the solution space and by doing so, help replace despair with hope for the future.  In short, action begets hope. 

These curriculum links are very much a work in progress.  Below you will find links to K-9 Science and Social Studies.  In the coming months, hope to expand the scope of this work to grades 10-12 and to other parts of the curriculum like Math and Language Arts.   We hope you find these resources useful, and welcome any comments you may have on our work to date email Marie Tremblay at marie@abcee.org
 

Kindergarten to Grade 3

Grades 4 to 6

Grades 7 to 9

Grades 10 to 12

Coming soon!