Learning progressions are one of the leading edges of education research and curriculum development. This work recognizes that the unconnected, inconsistent topics that make up the majority of standards and curricula in our schools must be replaced with sequences that build towards mastery of the big ideas and skills in a discipline. Using teachers' knowledge about how and what students learn at each grade and scientists' knowledge about the essential elements of ecosystem science, cohesive pathways or learning progressions for ecosystem literacy can be mapped.
Beginning in March 2007, an interested group of teachers from the Millbrook Central School District (MCSD) were rallied by Superintendent Lloyd Jaegar to collaborate with the Institute Education staff and start building an Ecosystem Literacy learning progression. We identified 4 strands of ecosystem literacy and began elaborating one of these strands in more detail: water.
Current plans for the Pathways project go beyond the elementary grades and water and will dovetail with the Environmental Science Literacy project. We currently are doing research with students in local schools, and with youngsters in the Institute's Ecology Camp to probe student learning about key facets of our ecosystem literacy pathways.