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Curricula for Global Sustainability Education

Ignite your students' learning and inspire them to take action in their communities with our hands-on, standards-aligned global sustainability curricula!

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Understanding Sustainability: Two-Week Unit for Life, Physical, and Earth Sciences, Grades 6-8 - Lesson Plan PDF
Understanding Sustainability: Two-Week Unit for Life, Physical, and Earth Sciences, Grades 6-8 - Lesson Plan PDF

Teacher Lesson Plan PDF
Understanding Sustainability: Two-Week Unit for Life, Physical, and Earth Sciences is a flexible, self-contained two-week curriculum unit aligned with national science standards for middle school educators to teach sustainability issues. The curriculum unit features hands-on activities that explore sustainability issues, such as energy, consumption, water scarcity, transportation choices, and potential solutions. Understanding Sustainability has been reviewed and tested by teachers, students, and experts.

ISBN 9780981557700
Price $4.99

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Free Previews & Table of Contents

Table of Contents and Introduction

Download the Introduction and Table of ContentsThis download contains the table of contents and introduction.


Unit 1: Fishing for the Future

Through a fishing simulation, students model several consecutive seasons of a fishery and explore how technology, population growth, and sustainable practices impact fish catch and fisheries management. As the students progress through the fishing seasons, they will likely overfish their oceans and will have to migrate to other oceans to meet their basic needs.


Unit 2: Watch Where You Step

Students identify the components of an Ecological Footprint by creating a web diagram of all the resources they use in their everyday lives and the mark or “footprint” this consumption leaves on the environment. The activity emphasizes the interconnectedness of lifestyle, population, and environmental impacts, and focuses on solutions to reduce Ecological Footprints.


Unit 3: Systems Are Dynamic

Students experience the dynamic, interconnected, and self-organizing nature of systems through an exercise in which they move around an open space trying to keep an equal distance between themselves and 2 other people.


Unit 4: Who You Callin’ Bigfoot?

Students determine ways to increase the sustainability of their lifestyles. Each student changes 1 aspect of his or her daily life for 1 week to reduce his or her Ecological Footprint. Students present their results to the class at the end of the project.


Unit 5: School Sustainability Audit

On Day 1, students perform a sustainability audit of their school in 4 groups (Energy, Water, Waste, and Transportation). On Day 2, each group writes a news article and presents their audit results and recommendations to the class.


Unit 6: Is It Sustainable?

Students define and discuss sustainability and its 3 key components: the economy, the environment, and society. Students brainstorm, analyze, and write about the sustainability of a variety of actions taken by individuals, businesses, and governments, using a Venn diagram to help organize the process.


Unit 7: Toil for Oil

In this oil extraction simulation, students experience the increasing difficulty of extracting a limited, nonrenewable resource over several years. Students consider and discuss renewable energy sources.


Unit 8: Every Drop Counts!

Through a series of water related lessons, including a water trivia game and a short demonstration, students learn how much of the earth’s water is available for human and other species’ needs.


Unit 9: Deep Space 3000

This collaborative activity will help students envision and create a sustainable environment through the design of a “closed system” spaceship that will be in outer space for 3,000 years, and then bring healthy and happy future generations back to Earth.

 
Reading 1: Ecological Footprint

Students learn how each person’s lifestyle and resource consumption choices affect their ecological footprint.


Reading 2: Sustainability

Students learn how the three major components of sustainability (environment, society, and economy) are interconnected.


Reading 3: Energy and Sustainability

Students learn about the differences between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources and their impacts on the environment.


Reading 4: Sustainable Solutions—We Can Do It!

Students learn about the steps that they can take to work toward a locally and globally sustainable future.

Resource Details

Why Use Understanding Sustainability?

The purpose of this unit is to teach important sustainability concepts and their interconnections, including natural resources, human population growth, and resource consumption. Lessons link to relevant and easy-to-implement action projects, including a sustainability audit in which students investigate and make recommendations about their school’s energy, water, trash, and transportation use. Students develop critical thinking and collaboration skills while applying sustainability concepts in their local and global communities.

Issues Covered/Key Concepts:
  • Ecological Footprint
  • Energy resources
  • Fisheries
  • Interconnections
  • Population growth
  • Carrying capacity
  • Renewable and nonrenewable resources
  • Sustainability Systems
  • Water resources
  • Technology


Student Skills Developed:
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Outreach to school community

 

How to Use Understanding Sustainability

Understanding Sustainability can be used as a short unit on global issues or as an engaging contextual framework within which core subjects are taught. Understanding Sustainability is often compatible with existing curriculum requirements and topics and extends students’ learning through an interdisciplinary approach to issues.

State Standards

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The foundation is focused on making grants to support education, health, human services, and other causes, with the opportunity to support other diverse areas on an occasional basis.


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Do you have an idea for a service-learning project that will impact your community? Learn and Serve America provides grant support annually (primarily through intermediaries) to diverse partnerships to develop and sustain service-learning projects. Generally, grants are for a period of three years, renewable annually contingent upon performance and the availability of funds.

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Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

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Student Achievement Grants - NEA Foundation

Eligibility: Applicants must be practicing U.S public school teachers in grades PreK–12, public school education support professionals, or faculty and staff at public higher education institutions

Amount: $5,000   |  Deadline: Open

The NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants aim to improve the academic achievement of students in U.S. public schools and public higher education institutions in any subject area(s). The proposed work should engage students in critical thinking and problem solving that deepen their knowledge of standards-based subject matter. The work should also improve students’ habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection.


Toshiba America Foundation

Eligibility: Public and non-profit private schools

Amount: Varies

Deadline: Applications for grades K-5 accepted once a year on October 1st; applications for less than $5,000 for grades 6-12 accepted on a rolling basis; applications for more than $5,000 for grades 6-12 due August 2, 2010.

Toshiba America Foundation (TAF) grants fund the projects ideas and materials teachers need to innovate in their math and science classrooms. TAF is interested in funding projects designed by teachers or small teams of teachers for use in their own schools.


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Amount: Grants average between $5,000 and $10,000  |   Deadline: January 1 and October 31

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About Federal Funding

Federal funds tend to be large grant awards and most often are open to schools, districts, or state governments. Individual teachers are not typically awarded small grants through Federal Grant Programs. You can search all federal funding opportunities at grants.gov or Department of Education funding opportunities at their Discretionary Grant Application Packages page.


Information About Programs


Use the Guide to Education Programs to learn about federally funded programs. Below are direct links to specific programs for which funding opportunities may arise or may be available through your state:

 

Grants Forecasting
The ED.gov grants forecast can help you identify grant competitions within some of these programs that may open soon.

 


Tips and Resources

 


 

Don’t let a lack of funds keep you from using our curriculum resources. If you teach at a Title I school or have a high percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch, please contact us.

Classroom Examples 

The classroom examples below show how Understanding Sustainability can be used to address a variety of classroom challenges and increase student involvement.


Matt D'Amato
  • School: Vanguard High School, New York, New York
  • Grades: 11-12     Classroom Size: 20
  • Subject: Environmental Science

Jessica Levine, photo courtesy of Suzie Fitzhugh
Jessica Levine
  • School: Eckstein Middle School, Seattle, WA
  • Grades: 6-8     Classroom Size: 24-31
  • Subject: Science


Educator Quotes

 I wish more science teachers had these units in their hands. The lessons really allow the students an opportunity to see how this affects them which is sometimes difficult to do as a middle schooler. 

- Middle School math and science teacher, University Place, WA

 

 The lessons are carefully thought through, are reasonably comprehensive for two weeks, and have nice variety of book, teacher, and student-directed learning as well as a fine balance and range of activities. 

- Middle School Science Teacher, Seattle, WA

 

 This unit was awesome. Thanks so much. I LOVED it and so did the students. 

- Middle School Life Science Teacher, Cheney, WA

Professional Development

Facing the Future offers the following workshop to help you learn more about Understanding Sustainability: Two-Week Unit for Life, Physical, and Earth Sciences, Grades 6-8:

Understanding Sustainability: 2-Week Unit for Middle School Science
This interactive session walks through Facing the Future’s 2-week unit on sustainability for middle school science. This “plug-in” unit is designed for science teachers who have not previously used Facing the Future curriculum, and/or who are looking for a single cohesive unit to teach about sustainability issues in their science curriculum. Each of the unit's nine lessons is fully planned out and includes key concepts and vocabulary, homework assignments, extension projects, and assessments. Student readings are also included.


Additional Professional Development Opportunities

 

To learn more about our upcoming workshops, webinars, and conferences, please visit our Workshop Calendar. If you are interested in having Facing the Future present at your next event, please contact us.

Supplementary Materials

To complement Understanding Sustainability, this section contains background information and additional resources to help educators and students learn more about global issues and sustainability.

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MISSION

Nonprofit Facing the Future is an international leader whose mission is to create tools for educators that equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future.
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