Introduction       Podcasts     Sample Units        Contact Information


With the tremendous support of the Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES Curriculum Council, the P/NW BOCES Curriculum Center decided to undertake the development of a K-12 Education for Sustainability Curriculum in 2008. The Curriculum Center believed this curriculum project is timely, important and urgent and will prepare students for a democratic society, global economy and sustainable future. The goals of the project remain to create, continuously update, and improve a multidisciplinary web-based curriculum that combines engaging and relevant content with the highest quality pedagogy. The project incorporates the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects and insures consistency between units both vertically and horizontally.

The curriculum development project was a multi-year undertaking that included building the capacity of administrators to lead in this area as well as working with teams of teachers to develop a cutting edge sustainability education curriculum. The first year of curriculum writing focused on creating units for Grades 6 – 8. During the summer of 2008, over 100 talented middle school educators from seventeen districts, worked together to draft a multidisciplinary sustainability education curriculum in ELA, social studies, math, science and the arts. The teachers built the sustainability education units around the overarching question, “How are we all going to live well within the means of nature?” which, in turn, was inspired by the definition of sustainability: providing a rich quality of life for all, and accomplishing this within the means of nature. Each grade level then chose an essential question to drive inquiry across the disciplines. These essential questions were based on the teachers’ work with Jaimie Cloud, and addressed the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education (EfS) Core Content Standards.

Once the units were developed by the teachers, they were refined by expert curriculum and sustainability consultants and placed on the web for teacher-writers to pilot during the year. In the spirit of continuous improvement, the teachers returned to BOCES in the spring to provide feedback about curriculum units which was used to enhance the pilot materials.

In 2009-10, the curriculum development cycle continued, and sustainability education curriculum units for grades three, four, and five were developed and in the summer of 2010, K-2 teachers developed their sustainability curriculum. This curriculum has been completed with the creation of EfS units for grades 9 - 12 in 2011 – 2012.  The Sustainability Education (EfS) Core Content Standards are therefore addressed throughout elementary, middle and high school. PNW BOCES will use a continuous improvement model to ensure that the units remain at the cutting edge of content and instruction.

To implement this ambitious project, PNW BOCES assembled a talented group of sustainability, curriculum design, and instructional technology experts to work with the educators in involved in the project. Consultants included:

  • Jaimie Cloud, international consultant and founder and president of The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education in New York City. The Cloud Institute is dedicated to the vital role of education in creating awareness, fostering commitment, and guiding actions toward a healthy, secure and sustainable future for ourselves and for future generations.
  • Mirla Morrison led the development of the grades K - 6 Integrated Social Studies/ELA curriculum and has published articles, presented at conferences, consulted to districts and public television, and trained and mentored hundreds of teachers throughout New York State. For the past twelve years as a BOCES consultant, Ms. Morrison has worked on-site with districts on curriculum at all levels. The Westchester Council for Social Studies has presented Ms. Morrison with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Social Studies.
  • Linda Brandon designed the instructional technology for grades K– 6 Integrated Social Studies/ELA curriculum. She is the Director of Instructional Technology in the Lakeland Central School District and has presented at local and national conferences on a variety of topics relating to instructional technology. Ms. Brandon has received several awards, including the Pioneer Award for Outstanding Technology Leader from the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center and the “Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology” award from Apple Computer.
  • Dr. Helen Pashley worked on the revision of grades 6 – 8 and was the lead science and math consultant for grades K – 5 and grades 9 - 12. Dr. Pashley was educated at the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge in the UK, where she taught Biology for grades 6-12. After moving to the U.S. she became involved with P/NW BOCES Science 21 program as a curriculum writer, and professional development consultant. She has worked with teachers and students in many districts throughout Westchester, Putnam, and Duchess Counties and in New Jersey. She is committed to environmental issues, and served as President of the Board of Directors of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.


In order to facilitate a clear understanding of the EfS Core Content Standards, teachers involved in the Education for Sustainability project have created several podcasts related to some of the standards. This is an ongoing project, with the goal being to have at least one podcast per standard. Click here to view and listen to the podcasts.

Sustainability Education (EfS) Core Content Standards

  • Cultural Preservation and Transformation
    How the preservation of cultural histories and heritages, and the transformation of cultural identities and practices contribute to sustainable communities. Students will develop the ability to discern with others what to preserve and what to change in order for future generations to thrive.
  • Responsible Local/Global Citizenship
    The rights, responsibilities and actions associated with leadership and participation toward healthy and sustainable communities. Students will know and understand these rights and responsibilities and assume their roles of leadership and participation.
  • The Dynamics of Systems & Change
    A system is made up of two or more parts in a dynamic relationship that forms a whole whose elements ‘hang together’ and change because they continually affect each other over time. Fundamental patterns of systems include growth, decline and vacillation. Students will know and understand the dynamic nature of complex systems and change over time. They will be able to apply the tools and concepts of system dynamics and systems thinking in their present lives, and to inform the choices that will affect our future.
  • Sustainable Economics
    The evolving theories and practices of economics and the shift towards integrating our economic, natural and social systems, to support and maintain life on the planet. Students will know and understand 21st century economic practices and will produce and consume in ways that contribute to the health of the financial, social and natural capital.
  • Healthy Commons
    Healthy Commons are that upon which we all depend and for which we are all responsible (i.e., air, trust, biodiversity, climate regulation, our collective future, water, libraries, public health, heritage sites, top soil, etc.). Students will be able to recognize and value the vital importance of the Commons in our lives and for our future. They will assume the rights, responsibilities and actions to care for the Commons.
  • Natural Laws and Ecological Principles
    The laws of nature and science principles of sustainability. Students will see themselves as interdependent with each other, all living things and natural systems. They will be able to put their knowledge and understanding to use in the service of their lives, their communities and the places in which they live.
  • Inventing and Affecting the Future
    The vital role of vision, imagination and intention in creating the desired future. Students will design, implement and assess actions in the service of their individual and collective visions.
  • Multiple Perspectives
    The perspectives, life experiences and cultures of others, as well as our own. Students will know, understand, value and draw from multiple perspectives to co-create with diverse stakeholders shared and evolving visions and actions in the service of a healthy and sustainable future locally and globally.
  • A Sense of Place
    The strong connection to the place in which one lives. Students will recognize and value the interrelationships between the social, economic, ecological and architectural history of that place and contribute to its continuous health.

It is our hope that the EfS curriculum project will raise awareness, provide meaningful experiences for our students and teachers alike, and move our region to the forefront of sustainability education.

Sample Lessons

These sample lessons that illustrate “Teaching the Common Core through the Lens of Sustainability” are provided for districts who are interested in previewing the materials before implementing this curriculum in their district. All materials are web-based, and are reviewed and revised each year. This is a "living, breathing" curriculum. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Marla Gardner or Fred Ende at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES. (914) 248 - 2332.

Please note that you will not be able to link to the other units in the curriculum. You will have access to all files and links for these two units only.

Contact Information

Developed at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES
Curriculum and Instructional Services

For further information regarding this curriculum and staff development program, please contact Dr. Marla Gardner (914) 248-2332. (

©2008 by Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, 200 BOCES Drive, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598-4399

All rights reserved. No portion of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or oltherwise) without the prior written permission of the Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES Curriculum Center.