This article explores the use of food as a focal topic in an environmentally focused curriculum course for elementary teacher candidates (ETCs) to help them personally connect to the content. Environmental topics are interdisciplinary; therefore, as we prepare ETCs to teach them, consideration of the social dimensions of science is imperative. This article discusses how the design and implementation of a unit on food allowed for exploration of elementary science and social studies environmental content with the goal of developing ETCs’ environmental identities. A focus unit on food as a daily practice that connects ETCs to the environment is described to highlight the personal salience of environmental issues and how ETCs impact and are dependent on the environment. Concept maps of daily activities that connect them to the environment were used as initial and final assessments for the course, along with an oral reflection with the instructor on their final maps. Examples of initial maps, final maps, and comments from students’ oral reflections show that ETCs deepened their understanding of how salient environmental issues were to their daily life activities, such as eating. Implications of the implementation on how to increase ETCs’ explicit connections with their identity positions relative to their experiences of and responses to environmental issues and proposed solutions are discussed.
The new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for a dramatic shift in science teaching and learning, with a focus on students engaging in science practices as they make sense of natural phenomena. In addition, the NGSS have a significant and explicit focus on climate change. The adoption of these new standards in many states across the nation have created a critical need for on-going professional learning as inservice science educators begin to implement three-dimensional instruction in their classrooms. This paper describes an innovative professional learning workshop on climate change for secondary science teachers, designed by teacher educators and scientists. The workshop was designed to improve teachers’ capacity to deliver effective three-dimensional climate change instruction in their classrooms. We present the structure and goals of the workshop, describe how theories of effective professional learning drove the design of the workshop, and address the affordances and challenges of implementing this type of professional learning experience.