In my experience, it is harder for people to think about what it will take to educate for sustainability, than it is to actually educate for sustainability. This makes sense, given that change of any kind is threatening to our reptilian brains. We have a biological fear of change. Add to this the fact that most educators think of “sustainablizing” as an add on to an already packed life, curriculum and to do list. Given the flavor of the month way that schools often operate, it seems like just one more thing to do. It isn’t. It can’t be. It is the thing we all must do if we want to thrive over time.Read More
I have been working with Kapalama Middle School at the Oahu campus of Kamehameha Schools for the past seven years. We would like to continue our work together, but for now, the contract has been completed. How can we know if the work we have done together to educate students for a sustainable future will last and will be improved over time? We can’t. What we can do is create favorable conditions for it to flourish over time—just like everything else we want to sustain. As I always say, there is no such thing as “sustain-guaranteed” but there is such a thing as “sustain-able”.Read More
Originally published on April 1, 2016 By Vicki So, Rubicon International on the Rubicon PD Update.
Jaimie Cloud, founder and president of the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, begins most projects with the following questions:
"What kind of future do we want? What do we want to sustain? For whom? For how long? .... And what does education have to do with it?
A fundamental part of the Cloud Institute’s mission is to inspire young people to think deeply about their relationship with the environment and to empower them to influence it. The Cloud Institute’s Framework for Education for Sustainability demonstrates the interdependence between students, educators, school systems, and communities at large. In order to achieve its mission, the Cloud Institute has embedded research-driven knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits of mind into the Education for Sustainability (EfS) Standards and Performance Indicators.
In the three-part webinar series below, Jaimie discusses her work in partnership with the Rubicon-Atlas Curriculum Mapping software team and the NYC Department of Education. In particular, she explains why the curriculum mapping process is so important for bringing the EfS Standards to life [Download Jaimie’s top 10 reasons here].
“Aligned to national and state educational standards, each EfS Standard has a set of coded Performance Indicators used to guide educators as they infuse their school culture, curriculum, instruction and assessment practices with Education for Sustainability. We believe that by meeting these EfS standards, young people will be prepared to participate in, and lead with us, the shift toward a sustainable future.”
- Download the commencement edition here
- Download the PreK-2 edition here
- Contact the Cloud Institute if your school is using Atlas and would like access, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
In the first video, Jaimie defines sustainability and her work with the Cloud Institute [Click here to download presentation slides].
The second video highlights how the EfS standards come to life in the Atlas Curriculum Software and explains why the curriculum mapping process is important [Note: an open Q&A is included at the end of this video].
Do you have a sustainability program at your school? Shoot us an email at email@example.com and share your story. If you are interested in learning more about trends in environmental education, click HERE!
Aloha! Today, we’d like to introduce you to Kapalama Middle School, located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. This native Hawaiian middle school, on one of The Kamehameha School’s three campuses, “educates children of Hawaiian ancestry to become good and industrious men and women in spirit, mind and body and to use their talents and abilities to positively contribute to the world.” Kapalama’s unique building is designed with an open floor plan and giant common spaces. Innovation is a priority here, as the school embraces Education for Sustainability, curriculum mapping, effective instructional practices, character and student leadership.
A serendipitous beginning
The Cloud Institute’s relationship with Kapalama began almost by chance. In the Spring of 2011, Dr. Pua Kaai, Principal of Kapalama Middle School was inspired to explore EfS after reading Jaimie’s chapter, Educating for a Sustainable Futurein the book, Curriculum 21 Essential Education for a Changing World (Ed. Heidi Hayes Jacobs. 2010). Soon after, Dr. Kaai, Dr. Erika Cravalho, Middle School Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator and several other key members of the leadership team at Kapalama shared a meal with Jaimie at one of Heidi’s curriculum mapping conferences in Saratoga, New York and a productive partnership was born. Back in Hawaii, two enthusiastic Kapalama teachers volunteered to participate in The Cloud Institute’s EfS Curriculum Design Studio™ in NYC and followed that up with ongoing Skype coaching sessions with Jaimie throughout that Fall. Hoping to engage more members of the school community, leaders at Kapalama invited Jaimie out for a whole school professional development day that included a keynote address and the EfS Intro. She returned that next summer, taking the first full cohort of teachers through their own EfS Curriculum Design Studio™. Since then, Jaimie has been coaching the entire faculty and most staff members via SKYPE throughout the year. In addition, she has been making the trip to Oahu each February (someone has to do it!) to provide the full faculty PD day and to work on whole school sustainability on site. She returns each summer to support Kapalama teachers during their Studio as they innovate, design, document, map and “sustainablize” their courses and units, assessments and performance criteria.
“This is something we have to do”
Sustainability holds special meaning for native Hawaiians, making EfS a great fit for Kapalama. “It has been about really getting kids to think hard about how to live well within the means of nature, which is very much, what our ancestors did and what our ancestors personified. When we met Jaimie in Saratoga, the more she spoke about the work of EfS, the more I realized EfS is so much of who we are culturally at our school, and our people. It was nice to expand our understanding of sustainability beyond the concept of reuse, reduce, recycle to include the ideas of systems thinking, sense of place, and cultural preservation and transformation,” explains Erika. “We are starting to think about how we can get our students to think critically so they can thrive in, not just our current reality, but in the future we will invent together. Working with an indigenous population of children, this is something we have to do.”The school’s long term commitment to this work has produced tangible results. “All of the teachers are at that point where EfS standards are part of their curriculum mapping every day. It’s operational,” describes Pua. “It’s been really interesting to see how the use of standards has evolved over the years. The trend has shifted from only focusing on content standards, like science or math, towards the EfS Standards and how the various disciplines can work together to achieve them. It’s more holistic, culturally relevant, and it just makes more sense.” Stressing the benefits of including the whole school in this work, she says, “What we do is bigger than the classroom. It’s about each of us shifting our mindset to thinking about our thinking, and the sustainability perspective.”
Erika points to one of Kapalama’s interdisciplinary exemplars: an extensive unit on Biomimicry that involves ELA, Science, Math, Social Studies and Technology. “It caught fire, which is a fantastic thing to watch.” Another exemplar includes a student developed planet-friendly app for increasing the regenerative capacity of the aina (Hawaiian for land). EfS at Kapalama doesn’t end when the students leave for the day. Recently a group testified about sustainable development issues at a local community meeting, showing that in-school learning has real life results.
Kapalama recognizes the importance of assessment and data collection in successfully doing this work. Jaimie’s most recent February visit focused on the question, “To what extent are we actually educating for sustainability, and to what extent are we assessing for it?” To this end, a large scale analysis was initiated on their mapping software, Rubicon Atlas, seeking evidence of EfS content and performance indicators in the core curriculum. It took one second to “push the button” to get the data, and then Jaimie and the faculty spent the rest of the day analyzing the data and determining their strengths, gaps and next steps.
In summary: Every team and every discipline is targeting EfS standards and indicators; all EfS standards (not all indicators yet) are being targeted in the Middle School; many but not all EfS indicators being targeted are being assessed for, and that will be the focus for the rest of this year and next. “It was thrilling. The energy in the building was palpable,” says Jaimie. "There is so much is going on and more to do, as always." In addition to assessment, calibration and the development of EfS performance criteria, the rest of the remaining work in the sixth and final year of this long term contract will focus on fully passing the “baton” to the team who will carry the work forward in perpetuity. Or in Hawaiian, Mau loa "forever"...
Is this Education for Sustainability? - Jaimie P. Cloud
The questions I ask faculty and administrators to consider when I am invited to a school to audit their sustainability education program are:
- Have you chosen a set of Education for Sustainability (EfS) benchmarks for the faculty to design, teach and assess with?
- Do you document and map the curriculum? If so, is it a living document that is continually improved and innovated over time?
- Does the faculty use the benchmarks to assess for evidence of EfS?
- Do they explicitly communicate quality EfS performance criteria to their students?
- Do you have student work as evidence of the enduring understandings, knowledge, skills and attitudes of EfS?
If the answer is “no” to all the above, then my next question is,
6. Is there a shared understanding within the school community of what Education for Sustainability is?
If the answer is “no”, then my next question is,
7. What can I see? Where can I look for evidence of EfS in the Curriculum? I learned a long time ago that even if the answers to all my questions are “no”, it doesn’t mean people are not educating for sustainability. It simply means we have to ask the next question, which is “how can we know?”
The way The Lovett School in Atlanta Georgia addressed my last question was to provide me with an extensive list of Stage 3 (UbD) curricular activities that the K-12 faculty was asked to prepare so that I could help them determine to what extent they were, indeed, educating for sustainability.
I read through the list with great interest, honored that they took the time to carefully describe what they have been doing. I didn’t actually consider using any of it in my audit because anecdotal information is not evidence I can assess. However, after some conversations back and forth with the leadership team, we agreed that it would be valuable to all of us if I were to annotate the descriptions I was given to let the faculty and administration know how we can know if they are educating for sustainability at Lovett.
Ordinarily I would have recommended that we use the Cloud Institute’s EfS Standards and Enduring Understandings as benchmarks against which I could annotate their descriptions, but I am working with the Journal of Sustainability Education to build consensus among EfS thought leaders and scholars on Sustainability Education Benchmarks which will be published this summer, and we all agreed that Lovett should wait for the new Benchmarks—since our work will be influenced by them going forward. So, I decided to use my experience and my knowledge of EfS to inform my annotations. I do this kind of work with faculty all the time in conversations during our coaching sessions. The work of “sustainablizing” the curriculum is difficult to describe if you are not the one experiencing it—maybe even if you are. I do hope that by capturing this work in writing, that I can increase understanding and shed some light on what it means to educate for a sustainable future, and how that is similar to, and different from, other types of education. Some themes you will see over and over again:
- Document document document. That way we can know what to keep, what to change, what to stop doing and what to start doing. If you design, document and map in a robust mapping software, we can do all the analytics we want to do with the push of a button.
- If you use UbD/Backwards Design to document and map the curriculum, Stages I and II (Outcomes and Assessments/Performance Criteria) will be clearly articulated so when we look at Stage III (lessons/descriptions of lessons) we can look for congruence between the 3 stages. “If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.”
- Collecting, sorting and calibrating student work as evidence of EfS is essential if we want to get this right.
- A shared understanding of what EfS is, will send a consistent and reinforcing message to students, and will have synergistic results over time. It is critical to differentiate between educating about sustainability, educating about un-sustainability and educating for sustainability.
Click Here to read excerpts from The Lovett School descriptions with my annotations.
The Cloud Institute is proud to announce our new partnership with The NYC Department of Education's High School Career Technical Education (CTE) Office, Envirolution One, a leader in sustainability education and career development in NYC, green industry experts, and Rubicon Atlas, the Curriculum Mapping Software.
NYC High School Career and Tech Education has over 300 CTE programs in 120+ schools, serving more than 120,000 students annually. The goal of the CTE Sustainability Education Initiative, is to educate for sustainability across all career pathways over the next several years. In this first year, we will work with faculty from Automotive, Solar, Green Building, Electrical, and IT to develop, map and pilot exemplary units of study that meet the Cloud Institute's EfS Enduring Understandings, Standards and Performance Indicators, as well as industry standards appropriate to each career pathway. The exemplary units will be piloted during the 2015-16 school year. This program is one of the ways that educators and students in NYC can contribute to the goals of ONEnyc 2030, which encompasses The Mayor's Sustainability and Resiliency Initiatives.
The Cloud Institute's work with schools revolves around curriculum, instruction and assessment for Education for Sustainability (EfS). EfS is defined as a transformative learning process that equips students, teachers, and school systems with the new knowledge and ways of thinking required to achieve economic prosperity and responsible citizenship while restoring the health of our living systems.
Education for Sustainability has multiple, positive effects on student achievement, school culture, community vitality, and ecological integrity. Young people experience a greater awareness of community and a greater appreciation of the democratic process, and teachers respond confidently and with an improved outlook. EfS contributes to improved relationships between the schools, parents and the community, and neighborhoods benefit from improved air quality, reduced waste, and decreased energy use.
Our Schools Learn program is a long-term and comprehensive approach to developing whole school capacity to educate for sustainability. We support efforts to embed EfS into curriculum, instruction and assessment, and organizational learning practices, while working in partnership with the community. Schools Learn programming will generally include: Introduction to Education for Sustainability, Administrative Planning and Coaching, Professional Development and Curriculum Coaching for Instructors and Formal Strength Assessments.
How can Education for Sustainability (EfS) increase student health and academic achievement? How can EfS help to retain the best and brightest young teachers? How can EfS stimulate and sustain school and community improvement? These are just a few of the questions that we will answer together.
Learn more and schedule a consultation or workshop HERE.
View our client list HERE.
By Jaimie P. Cloud
For those of you who understand what EfS is, who can articulate why you should do it, who are inspired and clear about the role that education plays in accelerating the shift toward sustainability… and just need some guidance on HOW to embed EfS into your core curriculum, this is for you. If you don’t yet have the tools and vocabulary you need to make sense of this, you can participate in one of our introductory professional development programs and receive follow up coaching services. Or take advantage of our “do it yourself” resources in our bookstore. The Fish Game and The EfS Curriculum Design Manual will get you started.
EfS Standards - The knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits of mind of Education for Sustainability (EfS) are embedded in The Cloud Institute's EfS Standards and Performance Indicators. Aligned to Common Core, Next Generation Science and other and State educational standards, each EfS Standard has a set of coded Performance Indicators used to guide educators as they infuse their curriculum, instruction and assessment practices with Education for Sustainability. We believe that by meeting these EfS standards, young people will be prepared to participate in, and to lead with us, the shift toward a sustainable future. The Cloud Institute's EfS Standards and Performance Indicators are available on the Rubicon Atlas Curriculum Mapping system. Contact us if your school is using Atlas and would like access.
Backwards Design/Understanding by Design (UbD) - Understanding by Design® (UbD™) is a framework for improving student achievement. Emphasizing the teacher's critical role as a designer of student learning, UbD™ works within the standards-driven curriculum to help teachers clarify learning goals, devise revealing assessments of student understanding, and craft effective and engaging learning activities. UbD was developed by nationally recognized educators Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, and published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). “Backwards Design” is a term we use to describe the process of designing curriculum with the end (the desired learning outcomes) in mind.
Levels of Accomplishment
Introductory: Students are assessed at an introductory/basic level of accomplishment
Progressing: Students are assessed based on their ability to demonstrate progress toward accomplishment
Mastery: Students are assessed for mastery of the content or skill being addressed
Curriculum Stages - In UbD and Backwards Design, there are three stages to the design process. The first two stages make up the curriculum.
Stage 1 - Learning Outcomes (rationale, transfer goals, standards, enduring understandings, content knowledge, skills, /Essential Question(s).
Stage 2 - Assessments and Explicit Performance Criteria
Instruction Stage - In UbD and Backwards Design, the third stage is made up of the instructional practices that deliver on the curriculum.
Stage 3 - Lessons, Activities, Learning Experiences
A. Acquire a shared understanding of sustainability and Education for Sustainability in your school community; develop personal rationales for educating for sustainability; become informed, inspired and hopeful about the role that education can play in making the shift toward a sustainable future
B. Align the EfS Enduring Understandings, Standards and Performance Indicators to your core curriculum.
(This activity is in the EfS Curriculum Design Manual in the bookstore. You can also receive the protocol with the EfS Alignment Charts available in the bookstore.)
C. Select a unit of study you want to “sustainablize” or design from scratch. Make note of how much time you have to deliver the unit. (Time is our only currency.)
CURRICULUM STAGE 1 - LEARNING OUTCOMES/ESSENTIAL QUESTION(S)
D. Select the required standards (Common Core, NGSS, Content, etc.) that this unit will address.
E. Select the EfS Enduring Understanding(s), and the EfS Standards and Performance Indicators that are aligned to this unit, and that this unit will address.
F. Decide what Essential Question(s) will drive the unit. Make sure that the Essential Question(s) corresponds to the Enduring Understandings you have selected. You may want to write a rationale for this unit (sooner or later it is good practice to do so) and you may want to develop a transfer goal(s) for the unit so that you keep in mind right from the beginning what, in the long run, you want students to be able to do independently and in a novel context as a result of this unit. It is a humbling experience to develop transfer goals. I recommend it.
G. Using your UBD/Backwards Design Unit Overview Template, “Un-Pack” the Standards and Indicators (all) by dissecting each performance indicator and breaking it down into concrete understandable content knowledge (nouns) and skills (verbs) in those sections of your template. (Standards and Indicators are always written in abstract language—and this is an excellent step for meaning making and translation into practical language.) A good unit overview template is laid out so that the content section and the skills section sit side by side so you can see them together. This is really useful—because it is these two boxes you will work with most when it comes time to sketch lessons.
H. Sequence, color code, and group the content knowledge in the order in which it will be delivered and do the same with the corresponding skills that will demonstrate that students have learned the content. Here is one exemplar of a Kindergarten Unit entitled, Change: Smile Through It! written by Jaimie Cloud and Marie Alcock. CLICK HERE
I. Once you have the content and skills the way you want them—you can sketch the sequence of guiding questions you will ask that corresponds to the content and skills. Do a quick check to make sure that the content, skills and guiding questions you are sketching are all congruent with one another and serve your Enduring Understanding(s) and Essential Question(s).
J. During the design process, I like to write the guiding questions in the content section first—so that I make sure that I haven’t missed anything. Sometimes I leave a copy there as a reference and then I always copy and paste the guiding questions into the learning opportunities/lessons section (Stage 3) because they will eventually drive the lessons and activities that will deliver on everything in Stage 1.
CURRICULUM STAGE 2 - ASSESSMENTS AND EXPLICIT PERFORMANCE CRITERIA
K. Look back at the Outcomes you selected and indicate the level of performance for each one you will assess (Introductory, Progressing or Mastery (IPM), and/or, The Depths of Knowledge (DOK). Decide what assessments will provide evidence of student learning, when they will need to be administered, what level(s) of accomplishment you are assessing for, and what quality performance criteria (rubrics, checklists, exemplars…) you will use explicitly with your students—and how and when you will need to communicate it to them.
INSTRUCTION STAGE 3 - LESSONS, ACTIVITIES, LEARNING EXPERIENCES
L. All along stages 1 and 2 you have been thinking about activities, readings and resources you will use with your students. Whenever your mind goes there, just jot them down in the Stage 3 Box. Don’t spend too much time in Stage 3 while you are still working out Stages 1 and 2, but don’t lose a good idea you will use in Stage 3 because you aren’t there yet. This is an iterative process—not a linear one. At the end of the day you want to make sure that all three stages hang together in a whole system of congruent mutually beneficial parts.
M. Now it’s time to really dive into the specifics of your lesson planning—the timing, the flow of activities and assessments, the handouts you will need, the scheduling and logistics of the projects and place based learning opportunities, etc. Much of the heavy lifting has been done by this time and if your content, skills and guiding questions are robust and clear to you, and you have been checking to make sure it all serves the Essential Question(s) and ultimately the Enduring Understanding(s) and the standards and benchmarks, then through the lessons you sketch you should get exactly what you designed for: Students who are engaged mindful and reflective, whose products and performances demonstrate that they have met the standards at the appropriate level, and who are prepared to participate in, and to lead with us, the shift toward a sustainable future.