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The EIC Model™
Environment as an Integrating Context for improving student learning
SEER's EIC Model™ Implementation Institutes™
EIC Model™ Implementation Institutes are designed to help teachers connect environment-based learning to standards-based instruction and adopted instructional materials. Participating education teams learn how to use curriculum-mapping processes to connect content standards and adopted instructional materials to students' environmental investigations and projects related to the school-site and local community.
These institutes are intended for school teams that are typically comprised of teachers, school administrators, and community partners. Elementary school teachers usually work in grade-level teams, while middle and high schools work in grade-level teams that include at least three disciplines and/or specialties.
SEER originally designed its four-day, highly interactive professional development program for schools participating in its network of EIC Model™ demonstration schools. The topics of these institutes include:
• Identifying Local Natural and Social Systems—participants explore the concept of systems thinking and learn about natural and social systems, their components, processes and interactions;
• Developing Community Maps—participants examine the concept of learning settings outside the classroom and learn to identify both "subject matter-based" and interdisciplinary learning opportunities in these settings;
• Designing Community-Based Investigations—participants explore the methodology of community-based investigations, and develop questioning skills and strategies;
• Creating Interdisciplinary Curriculum Maps—participants examine grade-level standards and identify potential connections among the disciplines that can effectively be used as the basis for interdisciplinary instructional units;
• Developing Standards-Based Integrated-Interdisciplinary Instructional Units—participants create integrated-interdisciplinary plans that simultaneously address multiple education standards in the context of Community-Based Investigations;
• Implementing Effective Collaborative Instruction—participants explore the role of collaborative instruction and analyze how this approach relates to the other EIC Model™ educational practices;
• Facilitating Student-Design Environmental Service-Learning Projects—participants examine the key elements of the environmental service-learning projects derived from the results of Community-Based Investigations;
• Engaging Students through Learner-Centered, Constructivist Approaches—participants define the terms learner-centered and constructivist, and analyze how these approaches relate to the other EIC Model™ practices;
• Supporting Students through Cooperative and Independent Learning Strategies—participants examine the effective and appropriate use of cooperative and independent learning methods, and analyze how these approaches relate to the other EIC Model™ educational practices;
• Designing Performance-Based Authentic Assessments—participants evaluate the use of authentic assessment methods, and analyze how this approach relates to the other EIC Model™ educational practices; and,
• Participating in Formative and Summative EIC Model™ Program Evaluation—participants examine SEER’s Program Evaluation Framework and understand their roles and responsibilities, as an EIC Model™ School, in the evaluation process.
Participants discover how various subject areas can support and enhance the instructional success of a curriculum based on the EIC Model™. They learn how state and district standards can be simultaneously addressed through the EIC Model™ as they integrate learning across the disciplines. The teachers also learn how to help their students map their community and natural surroundings, investigate local natural and human social systems, and identify local issues that may lead to student projects and service-learning activities.
SEER's institute facilitators model the processes that teachers will use with their students as they guide them through activities, small-group work, and outside explorations that help them fully understand and learn how to implement the EIC Model™. Institute participants are involved in small-group work, guided discussions, curriculum development sessions, group presentations, and strategic planning.
As the school teams conduct investigations in local natural and community settings, they discover learning and teaching opportunities that advance thinking skills and improve acquisition of content knowledge in a variety of traditional disciplines including English/language arts, math, science, history/social studies and, in many cases, art, music, and physical education.
Teachers and administrators from over 700 schools and districts have participated in SEER's EIC Model™ Implementation Institutes.
A complete syllabus for a typical 4-day EIC Implementation Institute is available here.
Day One —Institute participants will:
• analyze the elements of the most effective instructional practices for addressing content standards and increasing student achievement;
• explore the components of the EIC Model™ and its uses in standards-based instruction and reinforcing adopted instructional materials;
• investigate school sites as learning settings and identify both standards-based and context-based learning opportunities in these settings;
• use systems-thinking approaches to investigate natural and social systems that constitute the local community;
• map school and community within a given radius including representative natural and social systems; and,
• examine SEER’s evaluation framework and instruments.
Day Two—Institute participants will:
• identify specific science, English/language arts, history/social studies, math, and other standards to serve as the basis for developing EIC Model™ Units and lessons;
• generate sets of science, English/language arts, history/social studies, math, and other standards that can be simultaneously addressed in EIC Model™ Units;
• review adopted instructional materials;
• explore and analyze interactions between natural and social systems to examine how they may serve as the focus for community-based investigations;
• develop questioning skills and strategies related to community-based investigations;
• identify context-based standards that can be addressed through community-based investigations; and,
• analyze the role of learner-centered, constructivist approaches in the EIC Model™.
Day Three—Institute participants will:
• link sets of clustered standards to organizing and supporting questions related to the identified community-based investigations;
• delineate standards- and context-based learning objectives for the EIC Model™ Units and lessons;
• identify potential connections between standards- and context-based learning objectives;
• design a planning matrix for an EIC Model™ Unit that outlines the sequence of instruction to achieve both standards- and context-based learning objectives;
• explore the role of collaborative instruction and analyze how this approach relates to other EIC Model™ instructional practices;
• explore standards-based student assessment strategies for the EIC Model™ Unit;
• review change adopter styles;
• explore standards-based student assessment strategies for the EIC Model™ Unit; and,
• identify appropriate environmental service-learning activities to reinforce the integrated-interdisciplinary instructional plans.
Day Four—Institute participants willl:
• examine the key components of effective cooperative and independent learning approaches;
• create a vision statement for implementing the EIC Model™ in their school;
• develop an initial EIC Model™ Program Implementation Plan;
• outline roles, responsibilities, and timetable for implementation and evaluation;
• discuss possible ways to celebrate student/community successes;
• collaborate with team members to develop an action plan and timeline for implementing the EIC Model™ in their school and community;
• review EIC Model™ as a system; and,
• present team's EIC Model™ Unit and Program Implementation Plan to all Institute participants.
Results of Institute: Tools and Processes
Program Implementation and Evaluation Plan
A workplan and timetable for program implementation and evaluation. Elements of the program implementation and evaluation plan will include:
• outline of roles and responsibilities
• timetable for program implementation and evaluation
• a network of key stakeholders and decision makers
• potential program activities related to addressing community-based issues
• strategies for increasing school and community involvement
• plans to celebrate students' and community's successes
Curriculum Alignment Map
An instructional map that identifies sets of core content standards that will be addressed in the EIC Model™ Unit. This map also delineates how those standards will be interconnected in the lesson planning process. Elements of the curriculum alignment map will include:
• grade-specific content standards in science, English/language arts, history/social sciences and math
• standards-based learning objectives that will provide the foundation for lesson planning, including community-based investigations and service projects
EIC Model™ Unit Plan
A unit plan that describes the sequence of instruction to achieve standards-based learning objectives, links to adopted instructional materials (e.g., textbooks) and connects to key understandings related to community-based issues. Elements of the EIC Model™ Unit Plan will include:
• sample lesson plans to reinforce core content standards, learning objectives and adopted instructional materials
• standards-based community mapping project focusing on representative natural and social systems in the local community
• sample community-based investigations that incorporate standards-based learning objectives
• potential service-learning projects based on student-identified community needs
Student Assessment Plan
Plans for evaluating students' levels of mastery in core content areas, as well as their understanding of the natural and social systems that comprise their community. Elements of the student assessment plan will include:
• standards-based student assessment of lesson plans delineated in the EIC Model™ Unit
• context-based assessment to determine students' comprehensive understanding of how their community functions, including the interactions of natural and social systems identified in the EIC Model™ Unit
SEER Provided Instructional Materials and Supporting Documents
Institute participants will receive a variety of educational resources and technical materials to support program implementation. The principal documents include:
• Planning Guide for Implementing the EIC Model™ in Your School This Institute workbook leads the participants through exercises that help them develop an individualized EIC Model™ implementation program for their team. SEER's step-by-step curriculum mapping procedure is included in this workbook.
• Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning SEER's report of its national study of 40 schools that use the environment as a context for instruction. The report provides participants with case studies and presents some of the evidence of the educational efficacy of these practices.
• Program Evaluation Framework SEER's evaluation instruments are based on the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) developed by the University of Texas at Austin and the Southwest Regional Educational Development Laboratory. During the Institute teams will complete a Stages of Concern Questionnaire and begin the process of completing a Levels of Use Self-evaluation Instrument.
Materials and Supporting Documents Participants Should Bring
Each EIC Model™ team is asked to bring several supporting documents to the Institute including:
• state-, district-, or school-adopted, grade-level content standards for all of the grade-levels represented by teachers participating in the Institute;
• adopted instructional materials, including copies of textbooks for appropriate grades;
• scope and sequence documents for the participating district and school(s); and,
• district-specific content-standard assessments.
State Education and Environment Roundtable
Founding Sponsor The Pew Charitable Trusts
Legal terms for use of this information.
The "EIC Model™" and "using the Environment as an Integrating Context for
learning (EIC Model™)" Copyright © 1997-2014. All rights reserved.
Last update 7/1/2014