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Sustainability Education PLC

Last year a newly formed statewide professional learning community (PLC) focusing on Sustainability Education explored new and existing ways in which key elements of Act 77, notably proficiency-based learning (PBL) and flexible pathways, could empower teachers interested in integrating civics and sustainability education throughout the curriculum.

Entitled “No Citizen Left Behind,” this PLC allowed participants to benefit from shared resources and ideas, and the support and inspiration inherent in any successful group of highly dedicated teachers. A common realization, however, was the need to narrow the focus to enable deeper dives into the specific topics highlighted under the “sustainability umbrella.” To that end, we have decided to focus this semester on the teaching of climate change.

Over the course of five meetings throughout the Spring of 2019, teachers will share and discuss ways in which they are teaching climate change. Rubrics for content-based learning expectations as well as transferable skills will be shared and analyzed. Various models that incorporate community-based learning, service learning, and project-based learning will be considered in addition to the role of extracurricular clubs, conferences, networks and coalitions. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of cross-curricular connections, and special attention will be given to the growing field of climate change communication – notably the importance of framing and mental models. Elements of social justice and equity will be addressed where they intersect with climate change.

Given the concern over the impending impacts of climate change on the economy, communities, and human health, not enough attention has been given to how, when, and where this complex topic is addressed in school. Aside from the benefits that participating teachers (and their students) will receive from this PLC, we aim to collect and publish statewide data on the occurrence of climate change education.

The PLC meets in Rm 218 at Montpelier High School from 3:30 to 5:00.


4/24 – Creating a survey to collect statewide data about when, where and how Climate Change is being taught.  This database will highlight areas of need to focus our future efforts as we move forward.
5/8 – Creating a comprehensive description of Climate Literacy that includes elements of civics, social studies, and psychology in addition to the science.
5/22 – Half-Earth Vermont.  Finding ways to incorporate E.O. Wilson’s most recent work into Vermont communities and schools.  (
6/5 – Developing a “teacher strand” for next fall’s Youth Climate Leaders Academy.
This work has been funded through a Rowland Foundation Leadership Grant.