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Environmental Instruction Catalyzes Standards-Based Science Teaching: How Environmental Literacy Aids Implementation of the NGSS

By Katherine Nilsen, Ashley Iveland, Ted Britton, Burr Tyler, Elizabeth Arnett


NGSS Early Implementers is a six-year initiative created to help eight California school districts and two charter management organizations, supported by WestEd’s K–12 Alliance, implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The initiative has provided professional learning about environmental literacy to prompt and support its synergy with the NGSS.

Initiative teachers are addressing environmental literacy in science, in four ways:

  • Addressing environmental literacy during lesson studies for planning and teaching NGSS lessons
  • Incorporating environmental literacy instruction outside of the classroom
  • Partnering with local organizations to support environmental literacy
  • Encouraging environmental literacy in their schools and districts

Initiative leaders have taken steps to encourage teachers to incorporate environmental literacy into their science instruction by frequently pointing out and illustrating that environmental scenarios can serve as particularly effective phenomena and by modeling how to build instruction around environmental phenomena.

Teachers who were the most central to the Initiative reported more frequent incorporation of environmental literacy in their science instruction. For example, 29 percent of Core Teacher Leaders responded that they addressed environmental literacy “weekly” or “2–5 times per week” compared to 13 percent of Teacher Leaders and only 9 percent of expansion teachers (i.e., teachers not substantially involved in the Institute’s professional learning).

Challenges to incorporating environmental literacy in science instruction and recommendations for administrators supporting implementation of environmental literacy are provided.


Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2019
Format: PDF
Pages: 48
Publisher: WestEd