The Ontario Association for Geographic and Environmental Education (OAGEE) is planning its fall conference for October 17, 2014.

Have a look at their conference page if you’re interested in attending or submitting a presentation.

The Ontario Society for Environmental Education (OSEE) is having their annual conference on May 9 & 10 at the University of Toronto, Mississauga.

Keynote speakers will be Franke James, author and artist, and Colin Harris, environmental educator and founder of Take Me Outside.

Visit their conference page for more information and to register.

EEON would like to thank everyone who took part in our panel presentation on April 11, despite the nasty weather. The breakout focus groups were a great help to us in defining future programming for EEON.

Special thanks to our presenters, who represented game-changing initiatives in the places we live, learn, work, and play across the province:

 

Bob Willard, The New Sustainability Advantage

Pam Miller, EcoSchools

Sonya Meek, Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Michael Marchant, Toronto Hydro Conservation Programs

 

What are the game changers in your community? We’d like to hear about them!

 

 

 

 

EEON would like to thank all the participants in our most recent panel presentation on May 8, “Climate Change Education: Are We Making Progress?”

Our panelists and audience members shared their diverse perspectives on this topic, and some great discussions ensued. One thing we all can agree upon: while we are certainly making progress, we’ve got lots of room for growth – sustainable growth, that is!

 

Special thanks to all our panelists:

 

Richard Christie, Toronto District School Board Sustainability Office

Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance

Dick Holland, Green Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Catherine Mahler, Education Officer, Environmental Education, Ontario Ministry of Education

Phil McNeely, MPP for Ottawa-Orléans

And a very special thanks to our moderator, Dr. Hilary Inwood of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

 

 

On December 1, 2011, the NAAEE released its new Framework for Assessing Environmental Literacy. This comprehensive framework is an excellent guide for all those interested in developing and evaluating environmental education programs.

Visit http://www.naaee.net/framework for more information.

EEON would like to extend thanks to all those who came out to our panel discussion on January 11, “Environmental and Sustainability Education for All Citizens: Are We Making Progress?”

The panel presentations were compelling in many different ways, and the audience was certainly eager for discussion. This is a hot topic that is constantly evolving, becoming more challenging, and spawning more success stories every day.

 

Special thanks to our panelists:

 

Ron Ballentine, Halton District School Board & Science Teachers Association of Ontario

Dr. David Bell, Learning for a Sustainable Future

Dr. Hilary Inwood, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Catherine Mahler, Education Officer, Environmental Education, Ontario Ministry of Education

Cameron Smith, Toronto Star columnist (presented in absentia due to him falling off his roof!)

A Policy Framework for Environmental Education in Ontario Schools: Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow

In February, 2009, the Ministry of Education released its policy framework Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow, resulting from its commitment to implement the 32 recommendations of Shaping Our Schools, Shaping Our Future.

Read the full document at www.edu.gov.on.ca/curriculumcouncil/ShapeTomorrow.pdf.

It acknowledged the power of environmental education to foster student engagement and the positive effect on student achievement and motivation. The policy framework provides the vision and a model for school boards in the revision or development of a board’s environmental education policy. It is also recognized that the implementation of the policy framework for environmental education will occur over time and that it will be guided by local needs and conditions.

Unveiled in February, the Ministry of Education’s new policy framework for environmental education is radical, ambitious, and transformative. It calls for environmental education all day, every day, everywhere. According to the policy document, the Ministry will “embed environmental education expectations and opportunities in all grades and in all subjects of the Ontario curriculum.” No other Canadian jurisdiction has moved so far down the environmental education path, and Ministry officials are unaware of any similar initiative in the United States. The policy document sets out goals, strategies, and actions to be carried out by the Ministry of Education, school boards, and schools. The goals relate to Teaching and Learning, Student Engagement and Community Connections, and Environmental Leadership. It also provides Status Indicators, Facilitative Indicators, and Effect Indicators for Measuring Progress.

In announcing the seismic shift that places environmental education on a par with the curriculum’s commitment to numeracy and literacy, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne set out the new policy’s formidable objective. “Our goal is to have all students become environmentally responsible citizens by the time they graduate high school,” Wynne told some 500 educators attending a two-day environmental education symposium on February 25 and 26.

But the new emphasis involves much more than educating young people about the state and causes of our fragile environment. “The policy framework seeks to move beyond a focus on symptoms – air and water pollution, for example – to encompass the underlying causes of environmental stresses, which are rooted in personal and social values and in organizational structures,” says Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow.

Scope and Sequence of EE Expectations in the Ontario Curriculum

This document, available at http://edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/environment.html and at http://edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/environment.html, identifies both expectations connected explicitly with EE and those providing opportunities to make connections to environmental topics and issues.

Standards for EE in the Ontario Curriculum

This document, found at http://edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teachers/enviroed/standards.html, describes the nature and scope of environmental education as reflected throughout the revised curriculum. The standards are described within the themes of community, knowledge, perspectives, and action.

Article Environmental Education in Ontario in Professionally Speaking, June 2009

This article by Michael Benedict describes the changes in policy, approach and inclusion of environmental education in Ontario resulting from the Bondar Report in 2007.
http://professionallyspeaking.oct.ca/june_2009/enviro_ed.asp

Links to Related Documents in Other Jurisdictions

Education for Sustainability, Ministry of Education, Wellington, NZ
http://www.tki.org.nz/r/environ_ed/sustainable_future/futures_e.php

Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative
http://www.environment.gov.au/education/aussi

Report of the Working Group on Environmental Education: Shaping Our Schools, Shaping Our Future

On June 22, 2007 the Ontario provincial government, through Education Minister Kathleen Wynne and Environment Minister Laurel Broten, pledged its intent to accept and implement all 32 recommendations made by the Working Group on Environmental Education.

The recommendations were the work of a team of six environmental education experts and program directors including Dr. Eleanor Dudar (Toronto District School Board), Dr. Alan Foster (former director of the Kortright Centre for Conservation), Catherine Mahler (Ontario EcoSchools), Dr. Michael Fox (Trent University), Marlène Walsh (Canadian Ecology Centre) and Pam Schwartzberg (Learning for a Sustainable Future). Astronaut and scientist Dr. Roberta Bondar was chosen to lead the EE Working Group in this first-ever official review of how the environment and conservation are taught in Ontario schools. Its goal was to provide recommendations on ways to better support the teaching of environmental education to the newly created Curriculum Council. The “Bondar Report” recommendations were published in a report entitled Shaping Our Schools, Shaping Our Future. It can be accessed at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/curriculumcouncil/shapingschools.pdf

Three main aspects of the report will be summarized/commented on here:

1. The proposed definition of environmental education. Environmental education is education about the environment, for the environment, and in the environment that promotes an understanding of, rich and active experience in, and an appreciation for the dynamic interactions of the Earth’s physical and biological systems, the dependency of our social and economic systems on these natural systems, the scientific and human dimensions of environmental issues, and the positive and negative consequences, both intended and unintended, of  the interactions between human-created and natural systems.

2. The 32 recommendations in Shaping Our Schools, Shaping Our Future. These recommendations are interspersed with explanatory text throughout the document. The scope of the recommendations is comprehensive. The recommendations include policy, standards, research and consultation, accountability, assessment, responsibility for implementation, sound practice guidelines, guidelines for parent engagement, capacity-building and monitoring, cross-curricular focus, scope & sequence, study of environmental topics in each grade, substantial EE content in Gr. 9 Geography, 9/10 Science, and 10 Civics, environmental action projects, an additional environmental focus course, interdisciplinary links, specialist high skills majors program, co-op placements, professional development, workshops/summer institutes on cross-curricular EE, additional qualification courses, EE resource development, EE teaching guide, resource access, pre-service EE as a teachable subject, and funding outdoor education.

3. EEON believes that the concept of sustainability is something that must be explicitly addressed. Sustainability as the goal of environmental education needs to be explicitly and clearly stated within educational policy, resources and supports. None of the 32 recommendations in Shaping Our Schools, Shaping Our Future mention sustainability. In response to this concern, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne wrote (August 29, 2007): “We are committed to the development of an environmental education policy for Ontario schools, the establishment of standards to ensure that the quality and importance of environmental education is sustained throughout our curriculum policy documents, and the provision of opportunities in every grade throughout elementary and secondary schools for all students to learn about concepts and issues related to the environment, including sustainability.

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