The Environmental Literacy Model


CBF's Chesapeake Classrooms professional learning program uses the Environmental Literacy Model (ELM) to support teachers in developing Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences and integrating them into their curricular programs.

The Environmental Literacy Model features three primary components:

  • Curriculum Anchor
  • Issues Investigation
  • Stewardship and Civic Action

Curriculum Anchor

The Curriculum Anchor situates the issues investigations and civic engagement within the scope and sequence of a curriculum.

  • Defining the Learning Objectives and Curriculum Connection: Provides a foundation and connection to standards, curriculum, and/or performance indicators. The learning objectives organize concepts and inform practices emphasized in investigations and civic action.
  • Describing the Local Context: Establishes the local connections and life-relevancy of the content and core ideas in the learning. It describes the local environmental phenomenon, problem, or issue in which learning will be situated.
  • Driving Question: A broad, open-ended, life-relevant question that is based on the standards/learning objectives. The driving question guides inquiry for the investigation(s) and prompts the development of actionable claims through civic engagement.

Issue Investigation

Issue Investigation provides the opportunity for students to construct knowledge and understandings about the content/core ideas of the learning objectives through the investigation of a life- relevant issue, problem, or phenomenon.

  • Asking Questions, Defining Issues and Problems: Students and teachers work together to define the issue, problem, or phenomenon to be investigated and develop questions that are relevant for investigation. Note that this may be ongoing throughout the investigations.
  • Planning & Conducting Investigations: Students develop plans for collecting, analyzing, and communicating information and/or data to help them answer their questions and understand the problem. Students identify and justify appropriate sources of information and/or data, and determine methodologies for the collection of information and/or data.
  • Analyzing & Interpreting Data: Students present and share information and/or data to reveal patterns that indicate relationships. Students apply disciplinary concepts as they analyze and interpret information and/or data to make sense of the issue or phenomenon.
  • Constructing, Communicating, & Refining Explanations: Students identify, synthesize, and apply evidence from their investigations (for example, measurements, observations, and patterns) to draw conclusions about the driving question. These conclusions will be used to develop claims for informed action.

Stewardship and Civic Action

Stewardship and Civic Action provides the opportunity for students to adapt and apply the knowledge they’ve constructed through investigation toward authentic, meaningful action.

  • Developing a Claim and Identifying Solutions: Students work together to develop and present claims based on conclusions drawn in the Issue Investigation. The claims should reflect how the phenomenon, problem, issue explored in the investigations warrants informed action. Students identify and explore solutions to address the phenomenon, problem, or issue reflected in their claim(s).
  • Designing a Plan and Taking Informed Action: Students develop a plan for implementing solutions to their claims based through informed action in their classrooms, schools, and/or communities. The plans should include criteria for determining the extent to which the action successfully addresses the problem, challenge, or opportunity reflected in the claim. Students implement their plans.
  • Evaluate Action: Students reflect on the action(s) and reflect on the extent to which it successfully addresses the problem, challenge, or opportunity reflected in the claim. Students share proposals for sustaining or extending the action.

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