What is a MELP?
And how will it help your students?
Maryland students are now required to graduate environmentally literate, and many teachers, school systems, and education providers are working hard to make that happen. CBF is accompanying national and local experts to have the Maryland Environmental Literacy Partnership (MELP) be a leading effort that increases environmental literacy in curriculum and ultimately student action projects. MELP is a consortium of nine Maryland Local Education Agencies (LEA) in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Maryland State Department Education, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
During the summer of 2013, four summer institutes were conducted to provide professional development to high school science and social teachers to begin the process for developing classroom curriculum/lessons using the Issues Investigation Issues Investigation Framework. Each institute spent one day at Robinson Nature Center in Howard County, one day on a CBF boat program, and three days/two nights at a CBF island residential center. Topics ran the gamut of weather, fisheries, water quality, local culture, history and geography, invasive species, polluted runoff, wetlands, and land use. Each teacher created an issue investigation and lessons based on the Framework that could be used in the classroom.
In December 2013 those same teachers attended a two-day workshop to focus on content that they selected and skills to write the curricula modules. All the participants were enthusiastically engaged and left excited to be a part of this environmental literacy effort. A number of content-area supervisors joined the sessions and added their expertise to the formal presentations. There was some gear-grinding getting through the differences in how the nine counties do curriculum development, but that means the teachers were really engaging in the work and trying to create a product that will work for all students. By the end of day two, all 13 module development (writing) teams were off and running.
The next workshops are scheduled for Feb. 4 and 5. Teachers will pilot the curriculum modules in the fall of 2015 after local connections, more background knowledge, and LEA approval are added by two teachers in the 2014-2015 school year.
The curriculum modules and guidance developed by the lead MELP teachers will benefit students and teachers in all regions of Maryland. Teachers who may not have participated in the MELP program will be able to use the lessons and the curriculum adopted by each county, and they will reap the benefits of an elevated environmental literacy presence across the state.