Enviormental Education in Scho

Environmental Education in Schools
 
 In spite of the recent recognition of the importance of environmental issues in the educational system in Israel, the system has failed to implement it as a required subject due in part to the difficulty in teaching it. The environment encompasses a wide variety of fields and teachers lack the knowledge and training to properly integrate it into their curriculum.

Sustainable Development for the Negev (SDN) has created an environmental education program which directly involves the class or groups in the community while building leadership skills and problem solving abilities. . Through self-discovery and group cooperation, the group identifies the problems, learns about them through research and investigation, and takes action to resolve the problem. This program can easily be implemented into the formal education system and the teachers are actively involved in the learning process and trained on the integration of environmental issues into their classrooms.

The program’s framework allows for flexibility and creativity so that each school can adjust the program to match their own needs and objectives. Through this process, the students and teachers gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of their topic and choose the tools and means of solving it with their gained insight. The focal point can be chosen from a wide variety of topics including problems in the school yard, social problems in the community, appearance of the neighborhood, vandalism, and environmental problems such as waste, air pollution, open space damage and preservation, and adopting historical sites.

Target Populations:

· Children in the 5th class and above
· Children with special needs or in special education
· Children in public and regional schools

Description of Plan:

The schools must commit a minimum of 1 hour a week for a minimum of 1 year to participate in the Life’s Environment Program. The goal is to instill a sense of environmental and community stewardship in the youth and give them the tools to initiate involvement and take action to find viable solutions to their communities problems. Internet and computer education can be integrated into this program – they can use it for research, communications and presentations.

Teacher’s Duties:

· Guide and monitor all student activities
· Coordinate with the specialists which are connected to the project.
· Serve as a link to connect the students and school to the greater community
· Assist in exposing the students to relevant research material.
· Encourage and coordinate the student and community action.

Objectives of Program:

· To encourage open-minded research procedures which reinforces the relationship between education and social action
· To integrate computer education in the learning procedure
· To develop environmental awareness and ability to distinguish problems in the immediate community.
· To strengthen school, community, and municipality relations.
· To build involvement and motivation to change the local environment and community problems.
· To encourage teamwork and consideration and acceptance of other’s opinions.

Learning Methodology:

A. Learning in an interdisciplinary environment that combines computer skills, research and community involvement.
B. The program includes the basic concept connected to the ability to learn from computers, research, self-discovery, workshops & forums.
C. The children will choose by themselves in the topic in which they are interested in working with and they way they wish to deal with the problem.
D. During the program, the children will meet with professionals which will help them to understand the components of the problem and what is needed to solve it. They will also meet children from other schools who have participated in the program.

Places:

· Classroom
· School Yard
· Community

Method of Work

The plan is based on small working teams of students collaborating to combine their individual research and opinions to successfully complete the process.

The model suggests 14 framework stages:

1. Project Planning – The teacher will start organizing and meet with the working team which should include the principal, teachers, parents, municipality education department, community members, professionals, and SDN Coordinator. This coalition building is very important to form a solid base of student support and encouragement.
2. Definitions – The class will begin by defining and discussing the meaning of relevant vocabulary such as environment, community, degradation, solution, preservation, etc. The group also discusses what they believe is a “healthy” environment.
3. Observation & Awareness – This stage will develop observation skills and environmental sensitivity by exposing the problems in the community to the children. The students will begin by brain storming about what they perceive to be problems and discussing their opinions about their immediate environment. They will then Take a tour around their community and map its problems.
4. Categorization - The students will integrate their notes from the tour and discuss how the problems affect their lives. The children will then categorize the problems into relevant groups (social, environmental degradation, health, etc..). Through this process, they will also learn to differentiate between primary (root) and secondary problems.
5. Prioritizing – This stage will develop the methodology and skills to prioritize the problems. The students will work to together to make a system for measuring:
a. Possibility of dealing with problem due to complexity and time frame
b. Feasibility of solving the problem
c. Financial constraints
6. Decision Making – The students and the teacher will decide on 1 or more problems they wish to deal with based on their assessments of priorities and level of interest.
7. Research – In this stage the students will conduct comprehensive research of the problem using a variety of sources and methods such as interviews, library, newspapers, internet, observations, and professional documentation. They can discover knowledge in the community through interviews with parents, school staff, professionals, etc.
8. Define Problem – In this stage the students will combine their research data to clearly define the problem in terms of cause and effect.
9. Goals & Target – In this stage the students and teacher will work together to define their target goals.
10. Methodology – In this stage everyone involved in the project (students, teachers, parents, municipality, professionals) will work together to define a methodology and possible solutions to reach desired goals.
11. Indicators – The students will develop Indicators for choosing the better solution.
12. Action Plan – Build a detailed working plan and schedule to solve problem. Action plans should include community outreach and media communications.
13. Action – In this stage they will carry out activities in the working plan.
14. Evaluation & Summary – The students will work together to prepare presentations about conclusions, projections of the future, and how to follow-up. They should also follow-up with the media to publicize their success.

Throughout the project the students will document the entire process by keeping a diary of the project notes, procedures, effects and their emotions throughout. The students should also document their project through photographs, drawing pictures, recordings, etc…

Expected Results

Overall Results
· Preparation of a detailed and individualized frame-work for the program.
· Creation of an action committee comprised of students, school representatives, & community representatives.
· Recognition of environmental problems.
· Exposure to community and surroundings.
· Learning to identify and map problems.
· Learning tools to make decisions.
· Development of research skills.
· Integration of research from a variety of sources.
· Skills to organize and create a working plan to deal with problems.
· How to increase public awareness.
· How to make presentations.
· How to achieve goals in a systematic way
· Empowerment to make a difference in the community.
· Bringing the public attention to the success of the children

Computer Skills

· Increase knowledge and practice on various computer programs such as excel, word and power point.
· Creation of a website as a tool to show their progress and to outreach to the public and other schools
· Find and use professional people and informative web-sites
· Connect with other schools working on environmental issues.
· Discussion and forum on the internet.
· Increasing use of communication tools such as email
· Reporting and documenting progress
· Presentation of achievements and results.

Guidance & Leadership

· Every school/class will be under the direct guidance of a SDN coordinator who will support and encourage the action.
· Each school will work with the coordinator to build a plan that is workable and relevant for the school and community.
· During the year SDN will coordinate workshops for all participating teachers and meet regularly with individual teachers and classes.
· The computer work will be guided by a professional.

*** The Ministry of Education Southern Region approved this project last year when we began our work. Last year we began our work in 2 schools, the 7 7th grade classes in Beer-Sheva Mekif Gimmel and Golda Meia Elementary School. SDN is in current negotiations with Zid High School. ******
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עמותת נגב בר קיימא
"נגב בר-קיימא" היא עמותה רשומה, שהוקמה בשנת 1998 מתוך הצורך בגיבוש עקרונות לתכנון ולפיתוח בר-קיימא בנגב ויישומם, דרך השפעה על מקבלי ההחלטות והציבור כולו.
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