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- Background reading on EcoTipping Points
- Our flagship education package: “How Success Works”
- Lessons Created by Teachers
Welcome teachers. Sharing the lessons of EcoTipping Point stories teaches about how to achieve restoration in the midst of decline. These stories are instructive and inspiring for all age groups in any discipline. See in the lesson plans listed below how teachers are using these models of success to teach skills, spread hope, and inspire proactive reaction to the environmental crisis. The lesson How Success Works has been developed by a collaborating teacher to bring together the key concepts of EcoTipping Points, using success stories packaged in a format that works across the curriculum.
Do you have questions about EcoTipping Points? Want to share your EcoTipping Point lessons or experiences with other teachers? Contact us.
Background Reading on EcoTipping Points
- Gerald G. Marten and Catherine E. Matthews, 2009, EcoTipping Points: Sharing environmental success stories with students, What EcoTipping Points are and how they work, including lessons for teaching EcoTipping Points to K-12 students. The Science Teacher, Vol. 76, No. 7, October 2009.
- Understanding EcoTipping Points through stories (WorldWatch Magazine article)
- What does it take to turn decline to restoration? Ingredients for success in EcoTipping Point case studies
- How do EcoTipping Points work? The role of vicious cycles and virtuous cycles in EcoTipping Point case studies
How Success Works
Our flagship educational package, “How Success Works” uses five flagship case studies, dealing with a range of environmental concerns, to identify ingredients for success that they hold in common. It is an ideal lesson to teach about paradigms of success and the concept of EcoTipping points in science, social studies, or English classes at all grade levels.
Students see 5-10 minute videos, read short case studies, identify ingredients for success in each case, and review the ingredients with a teacher-led PowerPoint. Students can also use fill-in diagrams to map out vicious and virtuous cycles in the stories. The cases can be used individually or as a group depending on teaching goals. They can also be used for independent student projects, using Student-Centered PowerPoints. All stories come with front-loaded vocabulary to help student comprehension and provide one tool for assessment.
» See Lesson Plan and Instructional Materials
Lessons Created by Teachers
The lesson plans listed below were developed by teachers for their own Science, Social Studies, Environmental Studies and English classrooms. Most of the lessons are interdisciplinary and could be used or easily adapted across the curriculum. We have provided downloadable materials as WORD and PowerPoint documents, a format that you can modify for your own needs.
- Environmental Conference on Sustainability in Action – This lesson uses a jigsaw format to introduce students to a wide range of environmental problems and how local communities have dealt with them successfully. It uses an EcoTipping Points perspective to illuminate strategies that turn seemingly insurmountable problems into sustainable realities. Students use scaffolded readings of success stories from six continents, each with key human geography terms and guided questions, to prepare their case for presentation at a conference. See Lesson Plan | Download Curriculum
- Feedback Diagrams for Teaching EcoTipping Points – Feedback loops are at the core of EcoTipping Point success stories. This advanced lesson shows students how to diagram feedback loops, using actual case studies. They learn how “levers” work – a small action setting in motion a large effect – and how EcoTipping Point levers can transform the vicious cycles driving decline into virtuous cycles that drive restoration. Once students are comfortable with the process, they can apply it to situations in their own communities. See Lesson Plans
- Changing Nature’s Course: A Look at EcoTipping Point Models – Provides an understanding of the impact of human activity on global ecosystems and habitats. Students learn how an event in which humans modified the physical environment in the United States created a negative tipping point for a fragile ecosystem. Using the EcoTipping Points model, students examine how these changes occur and what solutions can reverse the damage to natural systems. Options to engage in graphing activities; forensic debate on social responsibility and implications for the environmental consequences of human actions on a global scale; role-playing activity, tumbling-block simulation, and essay. See Lesson Plan | Download Curriculum
- Town Hall Meeting – This lesson uses role-playing and simulation to teach students about environmental crises and the problem-solving skills needed to deal with them. Using four cases of decline in China, related to forestry, water management, desertification, and sewage management in urban areas, students apply their own critical thinking skills and debating efforts to find avenues to restoration and then learn about the actual strategies that turned the tide in each case. See Lesson Plan | Download Curriculum
- Edible Schoolyard – You can read an excellent article about the Garden project at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. On this campus, an asphalt parking lot was replaced by a one acre garden. Students grow a variety of crops, cook and serve the harvest at the school cafeteria, and compost the scraps for recycling to the Garden. Download .pdf (3mb) | Read Our Article
- Habitat-Based Learning Center – You can view or download this extensive Power Point with narration that chronicles Lakeside (AZ) public school district’s extraordinary creation and effective use of a Habitat based learning center. The diverse biomes provide a rich environment for study by all age groups. Download PowerPoint (50mb)
- Learning to Play by Nature’s Rules – This lesson teaches students how to recognize vicious and virtuous cycles, and then uses a news article about Hurricane Katrina to learn how to diagram the cyclical relationship between ecosystems and social systems. Students will differentiate between approaches to water control taken in the United States and new policies developed in Holland called ‘making room for water.’ See Lesson Plan | Download Curriculum
- Something Fishy – Provides students the opportunity to integrate what they have learned about fish biology, ocean ecosystems, and human-ecosystem interaction. Students explore how marine organisms can adapt (or fail to adapt) to dramatic changes in the ocean ecosystem. Expandable to other marine species, habitats, and environments. See Lesson Plan | Download Curriculum
- Resources We Live By – Students use EcoTipping Point success stories to create illustrated geography vocabulary books about the natural resources that can make or break human communities. See Lesson Plan | Download Curriculum
- To Diaper or Not – The environmental impact of disposable diapers can be discussed at any grade level, in light of the current awareness of environmental problems associated with landfills. Employing diapers as an example, students use technology to create a simpler method of waste disposal. This lesson is best used with the EcoTipping Points framework. Combining their research and their powers of observation, students will be able to discuss various environmental issues surrounding industrial waste disposal. See Lesson Plan | Download Curriculum
- EcoTipping Points Mini Books – The Mini Books are a set of five stories that illustrate the EcoTipping Point perspective through case studies of water pollution, acid rain, soil erosion, fish depletion, and water supplies – in three different countries. Each story combines a personal narrative about the impact of an environmental problem with the social efforts to address it, using cultural geography, graphic explanations of theory, cross-curriculum vocabulary, and critical thinking questions. The Mini Books were created for 4th grade but can be adapted for many grade levels. Download PowerPoint (35mb)
- An Introduction to Environmental ED – This PowerPoint presentation created by Debbie Trogdon-Stout introduces environmental education by focusing on individual engagement with sustainability and change. The PowerPoint is easily adaptable for different audiences and content areas. Download PowerPoint (500kb)