Step 1: Think
MWEEs may be inspired by a learning objective that lends itself to field-based learning or by a compelling problem, issue, or challenge. They may also be built from existing field trips or use existing schoolyard or community assets. During this phase, it may be worthwhile to consider existing district, community, or school-based intiatives for opportunities to integrate a MWEE. Exploring and gathering information on local environmental issues, options for field experiences, and exisiting teaching resources can also help generate ideas. There are likely opportunities for field experiences to occur on or near the schoolyard, for example at local parks, museums, or nearby fields or streams. Outdoor experiences are also available through environmental education providers.
Successful MWEEs often involve the support of multiple partners who play important roles in planning, delivering, and/or sustaining MWEE programs. Environmental education professionals from the school district or local nonprofit organizations can often assist with MWEE planning and implementation, including brainstorming MWEE ideas, offering teacher professional learning, and assisting with outdoor field experiences and/or action projects. District content specialists may also be able to provide access to information, materials, and resources. Additionally, community partners like businesses, universities, and government agencies can often be called on to support MWEEs by offering time, expertise, and supplies. Remember that while these are wonderful resources, active teacher participation in all elements of the MWEE is required.
The following questions can help facilitate brainstorming and planning:
- What are the objectives for learning?
- What are the local phenomena, problems, or issues to explore?
- What field trips, outdoor assets, or other resources exist at my school?
- Who can I work with on this project?
- What else do I need to consider?