Step 2: Plan

Once you have moved past the initial brainstorming phase, the Environmental Literacy Model (ELM) is a more comprehensive planning tool that can help you think through the details of your MWEE. The ELM is designed to help situate the MWEE within the scope and sequence of the curriculum and to ensure that action projects are in direct response to the learning that took place during the earlier phases of the MWEE. ELMs may also be helpful with communicating to school leadership, the local community, and colleagues.

The ELM features three primary components—Curriculum Anchor, Issue Investigation, and Informed Action—that are directly aligned with the MWEE essential elements and supporting practices. As you develop your ELM, you should also plan your methods for incorporating youth voice and integrating your required curriculum content and lessons. Your ELM will evolve over time, changing as new challenges or opportunities arise and/or as each group of students develops or co-develops their own supporting questions, investigations, and action projects.

When you first complete your ELM, it may feel incomplete—it should! You don’t yet know the supporting questions or action project your students will develop or co-develop. After completing your MWEE, you can return to your ELM and add in your students’ questions, investigations, and the action project they completed so you can use the ELM to share your MWEE with others.


View Sample ELMs

Curriculum Anchor

The Curriculum Anchor identifies connections of the MWEE to academic standards and establishes life-relevant, local contexts for learning. By defining the learning objectives and driving question within the local context, it addresses the MWEE essential element of Issue Definition and the supporting practices of Learning Integration and Local Context. Usually the Curriculum Anchor is completed by the teacher with no student involvement so the teacher can place the MWEE within their curriculum.

Issue Investigation

Issue Investigation provides the opportunity for students to construct knowledge and understanding through multiple investigations or lessons around a life-relevant issue. Some supporting questions will be developed by the teacher so it covers required curriculum content and lessons; however, be sure to leave space for questions and investigations developed or co-developed by your students. Investigations should take place outdoors while others may take place in the classroom. In working together throughout the investigation to construct, communicate, and refine explanations about the driving question, students participate in the MWEE essential elements of Outdoor Field Experiences, Issue Investigation, and Synthesis and Conclusions.

Informed Action

The action component empowers students to adapt and apply the knowledge they have constructed through Issue Investigation. As students develop a claim, identify solutions, design plans, and take informed action, they again address the MWEE essential element of Synthesis and Conclusions and Environmental Action Project. Remember, students should be actively involved in developing the action project. When using the ELM to plan your MWEE, use this component to plan how you will guide your students through the process of identifying solutions, ensure all students are engaged in planning and taking informed action, and lead them in evaluating that action.

Explore action project ideas here on Bay Backpack.