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Connecting the Dots

Key Strategies that Transform Learning

for Environmental Education, Citizenship and Sustainability

Which learning strategies engage students as active citizens in supporting environmental, social, and economic sustainability?

Connecting the Dots answers the question: what are the learning strategies for environmental education that we can employ to prepare our young people to take their place as informed, engaged citizens? Throughout the process, a secondary line of inquiry emerged: how are these strategies aligned with 21st century learning skills including collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking?

We delved into the literature to find strategies that develop the concepts, real-world connections and learning skills that build engaged citizenship. The result is this guide, which shows ways of organizing learning experiences — in other words, the “how to” of learning.

We believe these strategies represent the best that environmental education has to offer to formal learning. They are the “dots” that connect to form a system approach to learning. Each learning strategy “dot” can:

  • Link environmental, economic and social issues within subjects and across subjects
  • Link students to each other, their home life, their schools and their community
  • Link knowledge, skills and perspectives through student engagement and action
  • Provide a meaningful context to address numeracy, literacy, character and other educational expectations.

The Seven Strategies

  1. Learning Locally
  2. Integrated Learning
  3. Acting on Learning
  4. Real-world Connections
  5. Considering Alternative Perspectives
  6. Inquiry
  7. Sharing Responsibility for Learning

Download the electronic version:

Purchase Connecting the Dots

Written by Stan Kozak and Susan Elliot
Edited by David Israelson
Designed by Dino Roussetos
Copyright 2014

Protecting our Sacred Water

Together with our partner organization, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, and a group of First Nation and Métis Elders and educators, the LSF has created a guide called “Protecting our Sacred Water.”

Protecting our Sacred Water helps educators and youth program facilitators bring education for sustainable development to their students/youth in a transformative way through action projects. The guide provides tools for teachers to help youth choose a project topic and how to carry it out through the integration of FNMI ways of knowing. It is important that Aboriginal youth; Canada’s fastest growing and most marginalized population, see themselves as leaders in creating change. When youth are meaningfully engaged throughout the entire process, they are more likely to make positive changes for themselves and their community. Learn more about the Protecting our Sacred Water guide.

Download the Protecting our Sacred Water guide.

Engaging Students in Sustainable Action Projects (ESSAP) Guide

The guide focuses on engaging the students in successful environment/social justice action projects. Specific strategies are developed to work toward creating change that is truly sustainable, not just for the Earth but also for students and for teachers themselves.

Teachers are guided through what an action project entails and explore different strategies for success. Assistance with selecting and developing successful projects is provided.  Teachers will have an opportunity to explore how action projects fit into curriculum units and various sample projects that can be carried out with their students.

Download the Engaging Students in Sustainable Action Projects (ESSAP) guide.

Canadian Sustainability Curriculum Review Initiative

To strengthen and track sustainability literacy in Canada, LSF has established the Canadian Sustainability Curriculum Review Initiative. This initiative identifies what should be included in formal curriculum policy, as well as the most appropriate instructional methods for learning about key action themes selected from the themes of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Each theme document is prepared to support education ministry personnel in re-orienting curriculum policy in all subject areas in all jurisdictions across Canada.

The theme documents provide an excellent tool for educators and curriculum designers wishing to engage students in ESD in ways that are appropriate to their level of development.


Click here to download the Citizenship Theme Document


Expanding the teaching of biodiversity beyond life sciences to include the ecological, quality of life and ethical perspectives on this topic.

Click here to download the Biodiversity Theme Document

Climate Change

Expanding climate change learning beyond the traditional subject areas of science and geography to see important connections between environmental issues, individual actions and the understanding of modern environmental policy debates.

Click here to download the Weather, Climate and Climate Change Theme Document.


Drawing the focus to the conceptual understanding of ecosystems and sustainability in order for students to develop a deeper understanding of how the world works and the human impact upon it.

Click here to download the Ecosystem Theme Document.


Broadening the scope of educating on energy to ensure that students are able to grasp the implications of energy use as it pertains to the economy, the environment, and societies.

Click here to download the Energy Theme Document.


Connecting students to the complexity of water issues in preparation for decision making as active citizens in their communities.

Click here to download the Water Theme Document.

To learn more about the Canadian Sustainability Curriculum Review Initiative visit the Learning for a Sustainable Future website.