Teachers experience the Bay in all its forms during a CBF summer course. Photo by CBF Staff
Maryland Environmental Literacy Partnership
The Maryland Environmental Literacy Partnership (MELP) was formed in 2012 in response to national educational reform efforts and Maryland’s environmental literacy graduation requirement. Coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), in collaboration with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and nine leading Maryland school districts, the Partnership is creating robust curriculum resources and providing teacher professional learning and support to meet Maryland Environmental Literacy Standard 1 (environmental issues investigation and student action), as well as content standards in science and social studies.
As of 2014, teacher cohorts from nine school districts have drafted eight science and five social studies MELP curriculum modules for integration into existing science and social studies courses. The project goal is to integrate the MELP modules into the curricula of Maryland’s 24 school districts so that all high school students will directly engage in environmental issues investigations and related action projects, thereby fulfilling Environmental Literacy Standard 1.
The Maryland Environmental Literacy Partnership is funded by grants from the Maryland State Department of Education (federal Math and Science Partnership funds), the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.
Education experts from around the state crafted the MELP Framework for Issues Investigation and Student Action to guide the design of professional learning experiences and curriculum development. The Framework includes a driving question, background for the teacher, a context setting activity (or hook), multiple investigative questions, lessons that include evidence, artifacts, and investigations, lessons to form and present conclusions, and a student action/civic engagement component.
The MELP science and social studies curriculum modules:
- align with Maryland's College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the College Career and Civic Life (C3) Standards
- build students' environmental literacy and skills proficiency through modules embedded with critical thinking, investigation, analysis, synthesis of information, and action
- engage students in real world problem solving in their own community through interpretation of data and designing solutions to address environmental issues
Curriculum modules that illustrate the integration of these concepts into required courses, while addressing Environmental Literacy Standard One, and which are aligned to existing school system curriculum requirements will provide significant support for LEAs as they develop their environmental literacy plans. Maryland students need this critical instruction. The state needs informed, environmentally literate citizens who make good consumer choices and strive to protect our precious natural resources. Through the implementation of the MELP modules, Maryland students will be prepared for jobs and to be leaders in the new greener economy.
Through a summer immersion program, independent work, and job-embedded learning opportunities, teachers gain the content knowledge and skills needed to effectively apply the Framework to locally relevant issues investigation lessons that are aligned with state and national environmental literacy, science, and social studies standards.
Teachers participate in an outdoor, five-day summer institute to become familiar with the Framework, the modules, content, and pedagogical skills for teaching the MELP curricula modules. The teachers then complete individual and group work during the school year to modify the MELP modules to fit their local curriculum and integrate resources from their school area into the lessons. The teachers also participate in district-wide "professional learning communities" to support implementation of the MELP modules in the classroom. Teachers trained in 2015 will be the lead teachers in their high school to support colleagues who will be implementing the locally differentiated MELP modules adopted by their county.
The project goal is to integrate the MELP modules into the curricula of Maryland's 24 school districts so that all high school students will directly engage in environmental issues investigations and related action projects, thereby fulfilling the Environmental Literacy Standard 1. Ideally, the MELP model will be disseminated to other states in the region and nationally to increase student environmental literacy.