Curriculum Overview

Redford Center Stories is an environmental storytelling initiative for students (with particular focus on 5th-8th grades), designed to empower youth as changemakers exploring and activating the power of storytelling to impact environmental justice, restoration and regeneration.  This free program provides the following:

  • Free, cross-disciplinary, flexible, engaging, media-rich, high-quality, ready-to-use, project-based curriculum and resources to engage students with storytelling, film, science, social and environmental justice.
      • 10 lessons and bonus lessons (standards-integrated) that include PDFs, slides, links, media.
      • All lessons include writing prompts and conversation idea; narrative + digital storytelling analysis; critical/creative thinking; english/science/history connections; research ideas; resources; extensions; media (including original Redford Center/Redford Center-supported content).
      • Lessons can be taught in 20-30 minutes, extended to 45-80 minutes, or otherwise customized.
      • Materials examine the relationship between human-nature-communities, with emphasis on frontline communities, differential impact of climate change, social-environmental justice, disparity in access and equity outdoors, and meaningful, youth/community-inspired solutions.
  • Opportunities to learn directly with filmmakers and activists in a “Meet the Moment” dialogue series.
  • Mini-challenges to help students develop their visions and voices.
  • Support for helping students create + contribute a 90-second film on an aspect of creating a more just, inclusive, hopeful, healthy world to a showcase and celebration in April 2021

In partnership with incredible organizations doing important work to empower youth and climate solutions, this project is about young people’s agency and capacity for vibrant impact and meaningful contribution.  Expertise in environmental science or digital media is in no way a prerequisite for this project; just the opposite, this project is about everyone’s capacity for contribution and impact.  Join us!
 

SIGN UP TO JOIN REDFORD CENTER STORIES

 

Curriculum Preview

The 2020-21 RC Stories curriculum (free for all interested teachers/students) includes 10 Lessons + Bonus Lessons.  Each lesson includes a PDF lesson plan, slides, media and short films, science/writing extensions, and more.

Lesson One – Wisdom and Wonder: a foundation for justice

Introduces students to The Redford Stories Project as a journey of learning and discovery to connect with the natural world, ourselves and each other, and bring health to our planet and communities. Students experience ways words and images direct/inspire attention, and begin to consider their own visions + voices for a more just, hopeful, healthy world.

Lesson Two – EarthRise: awakening hope for the future

The oldest human tradition is to gather together to share stories to better understand ourselves and the world.  Over 50 years after Apollo 8 and the iconic Earthrise photo, what new perspectives are needed now?  How can we redefine who is an “environmentalist”; and in ways that honor, uplift and amplify underrepresented communities, visions and voices?

Lesson Three – The Sea Around Us (Life and Reciprocity, part 1)

This lesson explores our relationship to waterStudents are invited to think deeply about how water impacts conditions for life and health–for the planet and people.  How does the history, science and story of water connect us all?  How is ocean health connected to community health, and who is thinking about environmental justice, protection and repair with respect to the ocean?

Lesson Four A Water Story (Life and Reciprocity, part 2)

The preciousness of water cannot be overstated.  While water covers the Earth, only a tiny percentage of the Earth’s water is available for human use and consumption.  The United Nations identifies water as a human right and necessity for health, as well as the preservation and cultivation of human dignity.  Who is most impacted by declining access to clean water?

Lesson Five – Shared Land & Tuning to the Trees (Life and Reciprocity, part 3)

As hidden, communal qualities of trees/forests are being newly discovered, so is the importance of communion with nature for human health.  For whom is it easy to access nature, and for whom it is difficult or unwelcoming?  Amidst the pandemic, it’s common to hear “nature is still open”, but is it?  How can nature be a shared space of nourishment, thriving, mutuality?

Lesson Six –  Light and the 1st Law of Thermodynamics: Seeing

What can our relationship to “non-renewable”/“renewable” energy show us about how we are, and could be, living; and who is most impacted by decisions about energy use?  With different ways of investigating these questions, students consider fossil fuels, impacts of energy use, what innovations exist (or could exist), and who are in “frontline communities”?

Lesson Seven – Gravitational Echoes/Waves (sound/light/action): Hearing

Recently, scientists confirmed one of Einstein’s theories with the measurable discovery of “gravitational echoes”: waves of all kinds ripple in time/space without end.  When a decision is made in a community, which ripples/impacts are considered.  Who gets to speak for a community?  What about sound/light/air pollution –who’s most impacted, at what cost?

Lesson Eight – Active Citizenship and Rising Community

Around the world, young people are raising their visions/voices for justice, protection and repair.  How are the rights of nature, and all beings, newly coming into public dialogue?  Amidst rollback of fundamental environmental protections, what can citizens do?  This lesson dives deeper into advocacy, and the role of art, literature, music, expression, science in deep change. 

Lesson Nine – Soil: Feeling

How can creativity and innovation newly arise as communities use what they find in their own “backyards,” and share their knowledge?  What conditions have depleted Earth’s soil/people’s relationship to it; with what impact?  What are innovations in urban farming, soil health and regenerative agriculture able to teach us about seeking + cultivating diversity and a richer story?

Lesson Ten – Generative and Just Systems, Building Forward

What can inspire us all to live in greater reciprocity?  When we create a story, invent something new, design a city/building/food system/way of sharing resources, are we thinking about both immediate and long-term impacts on natural systems and all people?  What future can, and will, we call into being?  What will the legacy of this generation/time in history be?

 

Aligned Curriculum Standards

 Common Core Standards – English, History, Math (5th, 6th, 7th 8th Grades)

  • Language Arts Anchor Standards (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking) 
  • History-Social Studies Framework (Major Themes and Essential Questions, Grades 5, 6, 7, 8)
  • Math Connections (emphasis on analysis and problem-solving; Major Themes, Grade 5, 6, 7, 8)

Next Generation Science Standards (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th Grades)

  • Cross-Cutting Concepts, Grade 5, and 6-8

Social Justice Standards (Learning for Justice)

Social-Emotional Learning Principles

United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals

 

Objectives and Learning Targets

Objectives:

  • Help educators integrate environmental content/context into any unit of a class/course
  • Draw out connections between social-environmental-economic patterns (and points of view) Inspire deeper self-reflection, self-awareness and confidence for learning across subjects
  • Learn techniques for listening, interviews, collecting/using data, film composition, purpose-driven storytelling.
  • Envision, write and tell critical stories that can inspire and directly impact local and global action for a more environmentally sustainable and socially just world; in ways only youth can do
  • Let connections inform examples/metaphors/languages/stories for shared understanding
  • Support a relational understanding of human beings and nature; and mutual influence
  • Affirm nature as teacher and model for systems thinking, balance and creativity
  • Encourage joyful, purpose-filled learning and an expanded sense of belonging + potential

Students will:

  • Explore and deepen their own relationship to the natural world and their local environment.
  • Cultivate different perspectives (lenses) on issues of environmental/community degradation and regeneration.
  • Learn techniques for listening, interviews, collecting/using data, film composition, purpose-driven storytelling.
  • Envision, write and tell critical stories that can inspire and directly impact local and global action for a more environmentally sustainable and socially just world; in ways only youth can do.
  • Lead an intergenerational dialog around environmental impacts and greater reciprocity with the Earth. Join a joyful collaborative, synchronous learning community for collective Earth-activism and constructive hope.
  • Create films that embolden generations of environmentalists as inheritors and designers of the future.

Materials Required to Participate:

  • An inquiring mind and an open heart
  • Willingness to wonder
  • Curiosity and creativity
  • Paper and pencil
  • Internet access (to show/view slides and media)

Materials Required to Participate in the Final Challenge (90-second student film):

  • iPads or iPhones with Apple Clips App and Internet access.

 

Recommended Pacing Guide

The 2020-21 Redford Center Stories curriculum features 10 core lessons, + bonus lessons.  Lessons provide core content and a wide variety of extension options across subjects.  Each lesson can be taught in 15-20 minutes, or extended to 45-80 minutes, or even spread across multiple class periods or class meetings.

For classes completing in December, or students inspired to submit a Final Challenge video this Winter, submissions for the 90-second final film challenge will be invited between December 18, 2020 and March 31, 2021.  Special events, Redford Center “Office Hours,” and new learning opportunities and mini-challenges will be offered across the year, October to March, with student film showcases and celebrations for participants to be held in April 2021.