Education for Sustainability Workshops - Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation

Education for Sustainability Workshops

Empowering our children to change the world!

CELF is transforming K-12 education through innovative programs that empower youth, educators and school communities to create more sustainable communities.

During these uncertain times, we know the roles of both teachers and parents have changed. In addition to the global challenges we’re all experiencing, many are now encountering the challenge of keeping kids engaged and learning at home. 

To support teachers and parents, CELF is providing a variety of digital opportunities to access our award-winning programs, activities and resources. Whether you are a new or veteran teacher, a district or school leader, a non-formal educator or a parent, you can be confident CELF’s programs are connected to and enhance national learning standards through a deep understanding of place, a sense of purpose and action-oriented outcomes.

EfS for Classroom Teachers

Our school-year professional development workshops are conducted in coordination with individual districts and schools, as well as through teacher centers, universities and other program partners.

CELF offers both in-person and online professional learning programs. CELF workshops combine live interactive activities (synchronous) with self-paced independent assignments (asynchronous) and target both regional and global communities engaging in ongoing learning.

Customized CELF workshops are tailored to specific grade level, school or district needs and interests, taking staff learning to the next level.  

Foundations of Education for Sustainability (EfS)
“What is Educating for Sustainability? What practical ideas, principles, and activities can I share with my school community?” Participants will be immersed in the essential concepts behind designing any Educating for Sustainability learning experience, while becoming a member of CELF’s Professional Learning Community. Participants will engage in EfS activities and best teaching practices that demonstrate how sustainability provides an integrating context for the content they are already teaching. CELF will help participants apply the habits of systems thinkers to support efforts to build and sustain a collaborative school learning community.

Connecting Big Ideas of Sustainability to Curriculum
What do the key practices and principles of Education for Sustainability look like in action? Participants will build conceptual understanding of the 12 Big Ideas of Sustainability through interactive games, discussion and small group work. Concepts like interdependence, cycles, equilibrium and long-term effects can be readily connected to existing curriculum. We share real world models that put the Big Ideas of Sustainability into practice across content areas and grade levels. We support participants as they learn to identify and emphasize the Big Ideas at play in their classroom, school and community.

EfS and Systems Thinking 
The complexity of life is on display on the playground, at home, in the forest, at the store, and in our local and national governments. Both natural and human systems function within a network of complex relationships and are marked by interdependencies, dynamic equilibrium, limits and long-term effects. Viewing the critical issues of society and daily life through the lens of sustainability while applying the habits of systems-thinking can be one of the most empowering skills to teach students today. During this workshop, participants will engage in activities that will deepen their understanding of complex systems and prepare them to teach their students to think in systems, investigate feedback loops, leverage points, long-term effects and change over time.

EfS and Place, Problem, and Project-Based Learning: CELF P3 Framework
“Be the change you wish to see in the world!” To be future leaders, advocates and engaged community members, students must first connect to the world outside of the classroom. Developing a meaningful and joyful connection to place is fundamental to creating a life-long sense of responsibility to one’s community, environment and the world. Workshop attendees will participate in activities that engage students in their immediate surroundings and explore models of interdisciplinary Place, Problem and Project-Based Learning (P3) that also balance the “Three E’s of Educating for Sustainability”: Ecology, Economy and Equity.  This experiential and interactive workshop includes scaffolded and collaborative work time to refine or develop a P3 unit that empowers students to create change in their community.

Contact Victoria Garufi ( for more information on CELF’s professional learning workshops. 

EfS for Non-Formal Educators 

CELF works with non-formal education organizations on curriculum program design and staff development education. 

We conduct both virtual and in-person programs to support a variety of project goals. Some of these include:

  • Program Review Consultation: CELF team meets with non-formal education organizations to discuss learning assets, current lessons and goal-setting for projects. 
  • Curriculum Design: CELF provides EfS curriculum design, instruction and resources to strengthen education practices through place/problem/project-based learning. This often includes development of Educator Guides and Lesson Plans for nature centers and other informal education programs.
  • Professional Development: CELF provides custom workshops for specific project goals and also opportunities for non-formal educators to participate in large-format CELF programs for both formal and non-formal educators.

Programs and Resources for Parents

NEW for Summer 2020! The Family Nature Challenge!

Ready to get outside? While CELF supports learning both inside and out, we’re developed a special program for families with an emphasis on outdoor activities. We always encourage outdoor learning to help kids develop an affinity for nature. Now is a particularly good time to step outside. Experiencing the wonders of our natural world can have a positive affect on mental health for both kids and parents—something we could all use right now. Of course, please remember to observe any and all physical distancing practices in place in your area!

We hope you and your kids will find the activities accessible, interactive, and engaging.

JUNE 1 – 30: Houston Family Nature Challenge. Click here to learn more and register!

Weekly Themes: 

WEEK 1: Place — Getting to know your place.  This could be your backyard, your favorite hiking trail, your neighborhood, etc. Pick a specific place to hone in on for this week.

WEEK 2: Interdependence, Diversity— What organisms make up the ecosystem of your place? Introduction and use of iNaturalist; Determine what plants and possibly animals you find in your place; Share out species you found in your place via flipgrid or PPT presentation!

WEEK 3: Waste reductions within our Place  — Where is there waste or litter?  Collect all the waste used in three days, analyze findings and determine ways to either reduce personal waste or upcycle recyclable material collected.

WEEK 4: Ability to make a Difference — How can we improve our place? Call to action!

  • Analyze the human impact on your place
  • How can you improve it?
  • Story of their experience through flipgrid and/or Clips

Have fun and learn together! Earn a CELF Nature Champion Badge for completing the Challenge!

Read about the importance of climate and sustainability education in a COVID-19 world and the key role that students play in encouraging their parents to act more sustainably!

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