MWEEs meet academic standards through outdoor field investigations into local environmental issues that involve stewardship and civic action.
As with other problem and project-based approaches to learning, MWEEs (pronounced me-wees) provide standards-driven student learning within the context of life-relevant, real-world problems or phenomena. Investigations frequently take place on school grounds or with a field-based education provider like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Finally, MWEEs culminate in student action projects, which can take many forms, including environmental restoration or protection, everyday choices, community engagement, and civic action.
MWEE Essential Elements and Supporting Practices
MWEEs consists of four essential elements that describe “what students do.” These elements promote a learner-center approach that emphasizes the student’s role in actively constructing meaning from the educational experiences.
MWEE Essential Elements
- Issue Definition
- Outdoor Field Experiences
- Synthesis and Conclusions
- Action Projects
The MWEE also includes four supporting practices that describe “what teachers do” to ensure success.
MWEE Supporting Practices
- Active Teacher Support
- Classroom Integration
- Local Context
- Sustained Activity
For more information on the Essential Elements and Supporting Practices, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program's online resource site, Baybackpack.com and/or download the Educator's Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences.
CBF works with teachers to support many aspects of MWEE design and implementation. Our highly-trained, professional field-based educators provide dynamic, hands-on experiences across the watershed. Our Student Leadership Team supports and assists student leaders in a variety of student action projects including watershed restoration and protection (for example, tree plantings and oyster gardening), civic actions (for example, organizing community events and student-centered legislative campaigns), and Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) in agricultural education. Our Professional Learning Team further provides professional learning for hundreds of teachers and school leaders in designing MWEEs and integrating them into the curriculum.
Designing MWEEs with The Environmental Literacy Model (ELM)
The Environmental Literacy Model (ELM) is a tool that may be used to think through the details of a MWEE. ELM is designed to help situate the MWEE within the scope and sequence of your curriculum. It also helps to communicate to administrators, school leaders, colleagues, and others how field-based investigations and student action work to support academic standards of learning.
ELM features three primary components:
- Curriculum Anchor
- Issue Investigation
- Stewardship and Civic Action
These components directly align with the MWEE Essential Elements and Supporting Practices.
The ELM Curriculum Anchor identifies connections to academic standards and establishes life-relevant, local contexts for learning. Defining the learning objectives and driving question within the local context addresses the MWEE essential element of Issue Definition and the supporting practices of Classroom Integration and Local Context.
The ELM Issue Investigation section helps teachers plan, organize, and communicate opportunities for students to construct knowledge and understanding through field-based investigations of life-relevant phenomena, problems, or issues. This section is structured to demonstrate how students work together throughout the investigation to construct, communicate, and refine explanations about the driving question, and thus participate in the MWEE essential elements of Outdoor Field Experiences and Syntheses and Conclusions.
The ELM Stewardship and Civic Action section helps teachers communicate how the learning experience empowers students to adapt and apply the knowledge they’ve constructed through investigation. As students develop a claim, identify solutions, design plans, and take informed action, they again address the MWEE essential element of Syntheses and Conclusions, and fulfill the essential element requirement for Action Projects.
By doing the full suite of activities outlined in the ELM Planning Document, the supporting strategies of Active Teacher Support and Sustained Activity from the MWEE are also fulfilled.