Action Basics

Review the Action Framework and tools to help you and your students plan an action project

Action projects should directly address the environmental issue, problem, or phenomenon students explored. Students are actively engaged and, to the extent possible, drive the decision-making, planning, and implementation of the solution or intervention while educators play a facilitation role by forming groups, moderating, and answering questions.

Start with what you have, then scale up!

Before you and your students brainstorm action projects, survey your school and broader community for projects, infrastructure or resources your students could tap into, update or reinvigorate—you don’t need to start from scratch. Is there a forgotten habitat or garden that needs maintenance? Is there a recycling program that needs a new champion? Your resources (time and money) could go a lot further if you build off what is already there than starting from scratch.

If your students have an action idea in mind, think about how it could be scaled up in the future. Ideally this action isn’t a one-and-done project but continues to expand year after year. Do your students want to create a community-wide recycling program? Start at the school, go through some trial and error and then scale up to the community. Do your students want to revamp a schoolyard garden? In the first year they could remove unwanted plants and add new plants. In future years, students could scale up the project to include a pollinator monitoring program or create outdoor classroom components. Looking to the past and future before selecting an action project will set you up for success and sustainability.

Use the Action Framework to get your started

Steps required to make an action project a success will differ based on the project, students involved, location, grade, etc. However, there is a basic framework you can follow to facilitate student-directed solutions and interventions. Tools from the MWEE Toolbox, connections to the Environmental Literacy Model planning tool (ELM), and additional resources are included.

Get your Students involved in Planning! Check out these student worksheets that follow the action framework: Environmental Action Project Worksheets; Road Map to Action; Action Plan Presentation Checklist.

Action Framework

Choose a Solution

  • Guide students through the process of constructing claims from their investigations and identifying evidence-based solutions
  • Identify how many projects you can manage and any restrictions you need to consider (ex. time restrictions, funding)

  • Survey your school and broader community for projects, infrastructure or resources your students could tap into, update or reinvigorate—you don’t need to start from scratch

  • Choose a strategy that involves everyone in the action brainstorming and selection process

Get Support and Approval

  • Create an elevator speech for the project

  • Identify stakeholders and who needs to give approval
    • Identity who would be involved in maintenance of the project and involve them early in the process, if this is a school project this might include facility or maintenance managers

  • Identify partners and volunteers

Design and Prepare
Implement Project
  • Define project tasks and create project teams

  • Manage coordination between project teams

Monitor and Evaluate Progress
  • Monitor project and maintain where needed

  • Create a long-term maintenance plan

  • Reflect on project and prepare reflections to share with future students

Share the Project
  • Post signage or create literature if appropriate

  • Contact local media to share with community members

  • Celebrate!

Use the Project
  • Brainstorm how this project will continue into the future including scaling-up opportunities to share with future students

  • Connect the project to classroom lessons so it can be integrated into instruction

  • Tell other teachers, classes, and after-school groups and clubs about the project so it becomes a shared project across different subjects and grades

  • Use this project to apply for or support a sustainable or green school initiative