Unit 2: School Grounds Mapping and Culture

In this unit, students will explore the elements of ecological school grounds in different cultures and places in the world, and determine whether these elements are present on their own school grounds.

Please read the introduction to this curriculum before beginning any lessons.

Grade Level:

  • 6 - 12 grade or equivalent

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Performance Expectations:

Middle and high school:

  • Asking questions and defining problems

  • Developing and using models

  • Planning and carrying out investigations

  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions

  • Engaging in argument from evidence

  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

5E Unit Element:

  • Explore

Ecological Society of America 4DEE Framework:

  • Human-Environment Interactions

  • Cross-Cutting Themes

  • Ecology Practices

  • Core Ecological Concepts

Enduring Understandings (the Big Ideas)

Students will understand that:

  • Ecological school grounds can help society address wicked problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and management of water systems.

  • Different cultures connect with nature in various ways. Our culture is expressed through many lenses, including art, language, food, values, and traditions.

  • We can demonstrate our cultural values and traditions through design and activities on our school grounds.

Essential Questions

  • What constitutes an ecological school ground, and how could these elements address wicked problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and management of water systems?

  • How can culture help us express our relationships with nature?

  • How can we redesign our school grounds so that they are ecological and reflect the cultures of our students and community?


  • Pre-assessment question (entrance slip)

  • Pre- and Post-assessment Think-Pair-Share

  • School grounds map

  • Interview questions

  • KWL Chart

  • Direction sheet from jigsaw activity

  • Contributions to class discussion

  • One-Minute Format worksheet guide

  • Presentation boards

  • Biocultural design research product

  • Small group work

  • Whole class discussion

  • Journal entries describing key takeaways

  • Preparation of slide(s) for presentation in Lesson 5