Monday, September 30, 2013

Connecting the Dots - Key Learning Strategies for Environmental Education, Citizenship and Sustainability

Which learning strategies best contribute to students becoming engaged and active citizens involved in achieving environmental, social and economic sustainability?

Connecting the Dots focuses on learning strategies and the ways of organizing learning experiences; the “how to” of learning. These learning strategies involve students as engaged learners, learning within the context of their communities and addressing relevant, local issues.

The learning strategies advanced in this document are not new. They are common to environmental education and many other fields of educational research and practice. What is new is the means by which these strategies when used together, connect the many dots that are necessary to achieve an interconnected world view. These “dots” include:

  • Linking environmental, economic and social issues within subjects and across subjects
  • Linking students to each other, their home life, their schools, their environment and their community
  • Linking knowledge, skills, and perspectives through student engagement and action
  • Providing a meaningful context for the implementation of numeracy, literacy, character and other educational objectives.
The Seven Strategies
  1. Learning Locally - Community as Classroom
  2. Integrated Learning
  3. Acting on Learning
  4. Real-World Connections
  5. Considering Alternative Perspectives
  6. Inquiry
  7. Sharing Responsibility for Learning with Students

Download Connecting the Dots (Executive Summary)

Authors: Stan Kozak and Susan Elliot
Graphics and Layout: Anita Sekharan
Copyright © 2011 Learning for a Sustainable Future

Full version coming soon!

1. Learning Locally

"Learning Locally - Community as Classroom" is a strategy available at every school. The opportunities vary according to the school's location and the time of year, nevertheless there is a richness to enhance learning at some level outside every school door.
  • Learning locally takes advantage of the natural, built and cultural amenities that exist in the community - just outside the school doors, often a short walk away.
  • Using local experiences for learning expands the confines of the classroom to include the richness of the community and helps redefine learning as a life-long pursuit.

Read more about Learning Locally:

      2. Integrated Learning

      Integrated learning is a relevant and important strategy for all grade levels. Subject-based or organization of timetables and subject specialization in higher grades can make its application more difficult but not impossible.

      Pursue any topic or issue and opportunities arise to address expectations across multiple subjects. Following and using these learning opportunities is the essence of integrated learning.

      Read more about Integrated Learning:

      3. Acting on Learning

      When students act on their learning, the school experience is made relevant and the seeds of hope through active citizenship are planted.

      Acting on learning: moves beyond investigation of an issue to identifying solutions and working towards a desired change—in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community, and on the planet. (Laing, 1998, 170)  The premise is - if something is worth knowing, it is worth acting upon.

      • Action projects are practical, real and are relevant to the students involved. They are not planned simply as a learning exercise.
      • They include community service ranging from volunteering to service learning.
      • Through action projects, skill, knowledge and value expectations are addressed.

      Read more on Acting on Learning:

        4. Real World Connections

        Students want to be involved in important initiatives. Bringing real-world connections to learning takes advantage of this strong motivator.

        Real-world connections draw from, or upon, actual objects, events, experiences or situations to address a concept, problem or issue.

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        5. Considering Alternative Perspectives

        Bringing alternative perspectives to the attention of students is an invitation for critical thinking.

        Consideration of the different ways of looking at issues, solutions, strategies, experiences, world views and ways of knowing in the process of forming opinions, clarifying values and taking an informed position.

        Read more about Considering Alternative Perspectives:

        6. Inquiry

        Inquiry-based learning is most consistent with development of the skills for lifelong learning. It prepares students to know what to do when the options before them are not clear.

        An approach to learning that is directed by questions that individuals and groups of learners work together to address. Both process and products of learning are assessed.

        Read more about Inquiry: