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Sustainable Development

Decreasing the ELT footprint

Milica Vukadin, B.Ed.

18th Annual ELTA Serbia Conference

What is sustainable development?


Can you list some sustainable development goals?

Why are sustainable development goals important?

The sustainable development goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.






What is the


ELT footprint in their classrooms?

1. Content teaching - environmental education

2. Changing everyday classroom routines

How can teachers change their practice to decrease the

Environmental Education:

Early Childhood

Awareness and Literacy Through Theme-Based Instruction in English

CLIL and Theme-based Instruction


21st century skills

National Geographic framework of

environmental education

Research framework

Hands-on and Project-based Learning

Content and integrated language learning (CLIL) is one of the L2 approaches that heavily rely on contextual content learning. This approach connects language learning to the curriculum that is being used in other subjects. The 2014 European Commission publication about CLIL states that this approach is one of the most effective methods of instruction in bilingual education because it uses the foreign language as a medium for acquiring knowledge in various subjects, without increasing the time spent in the learning process.

Collective knowledge, gathered from many seemingly unrelated subjects, proves that didactical principles of holistic learning can impact the methods which are used to develop certain competencies while acquiring the content from other subjects at the same time. (Vukadin and Marković, 2019, p.239)

Hands-on learning or learning by doing is the most effective way for preschool children to acquire new knowledge since they are tactile learners. Abstract ideas are easily presented by models, mind maps, and projects. This curriculum contains model creation in the Teaching Global Climate Change thematic unit, created in the National Geographic professional development course for educators[1], and it is used to present complex data and the relationship between the causes and the effects of global climate change.

The Maryland State Department of Education (2003) defined STEM as an innovative instruction aimed at teaching and learning four integrated science subjects. STEM represents the practical combination and connectivity between Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to understand, think critically, apply a solution, and make a change. This approach has greatly evolved during the last decade, but its first mentions date back to 1980s (Brainer, Harkness, et al. 2012)

STEM instruction allows the children to explore by themselves and make permanent connections between sciences which would not be possible in a different approach. When children take an active instead of a perceptive role, the learning is meaningful and contextualized, which aids retention greatly (Katz and Chard, 2000).

Activism, environmental entrepreneurship, environmental awareness, critical thinking, problem-solving

The understanding of the permanent interconnectivity between the scales is crucial if we wish to develop entrepreneurship skills in our students. Developing those skills ultimately leads to activism and problem solving because to act, the learners need to understand the unbreakable bonds between the human and the natural world. This research relies on an adapted framework of geographical scales and perspectives, developed by National Geographic for the National Geographic Educator Certification course.[1]

Environmental education at its best

A peek into the Swedish

early childhood education

Environmental preschool in Sweden

Reggio Emilia

pedagogical approach

Open classrooms

no groups, no walls

Natural materials

all arround the preschool

The Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy which focuses on preschool and primary education. It has a student-centered and constructivist pedagogy that uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments. The program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery through a self-guided curriculum. The children form their own personality during early years of development and they know “a hundred languages”. The aim of the Reggio approach is to teach how to use symbolic languages (e.g., painting, sculpting, drama) in everyday life.

There are no specific classrooms for each class! The teachers rotate and share all resources, which is cost and space-friendly.

The teachers have a schedule in which they rotate. This way, children get to use all the dramatic corners and all the classrooms. By doing that, they get to explore different settings and corners. They also mix with children who are younger or older than them.

A reflection video of a project done for the National Geographic Educator Certification course

A 3-minute video presenting a thematical unit consisting out of 3 lessons.

Learn more about my environmental educaton professional development HERE.




Click HERE to explore the program introduction.




Decide if you want to join. It's free! P.S.Please join only if you are serious and consider finishing it since it is really important for my research.



Contact me and I will send you the course link. Click HERE to contact me.



What have I done to decrease the footprint of my classroom?

DIY collection of color flashcards collected over the years, recyclable materials for crafting, collecting scraps of materials.

Paper puppets, eco-bricks, printed board games, second-hand books, digital materials, reusing worksheets.



  • UN Sustainable development goals

  • Vukadin D. M., Marković S. N., Developing…; УЗДАНИЦА; 2019, XVI/2; стр. 235–251
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/professional-development/educator-certification/ retrieved on 5.12.2020.
  • Teaching Global Climate Change course can be found on the following page https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/professional-development/courses/ (Links to an external site.), retrieved on 5.12.2020.
  • The Geo-Inquiry Process by National Geographics - https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/programs/geo-inquiry/ (Links to an external site.) retrieved on 5.12.2020.
  • Maryland State Department of Education (2003). Maryland STEM. Retrieved from http://www. msde.state.md.us/w/STEM.pdf.
  • Breiner, J. M., Harkness, S. S., Johnson, C. C., & Koehler, C. M. (2012). What is STEM? A discussion about conceptions of STEM in education and partnerships. School Science and Mathematics, 112(1), 3-11.

Bonus 1:

Article on the ELT footprint

website I wrote with more than 50
free environmental education
courses for educators (content
and methodology).

Bonus 2:

Click HERE to subscribe to receive

my full National Geographic journal with 3 full lesson plans and more!

Milica Vukadin

PreK teacher, ESL teacher, Head of Language Studies, Teacher trainer, ELTA board member

Do you want to join my free research-based professional development course

about environmental education? Click HERE to join the waitlist!

Thank you for