What is a MWEE?
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) are learner-centered experiences that focus on investigations into local environmental issues that lead to informed action and civic engagement. Teachers play an important role in presenting unbiased information and assisting students with their research and exploration. Four essential elements and four supporting practices build upon each other to create this comprehensive learning experience for students.
“Part of the beauty of MWEEs is that they are not something extra but are, indeed, a means of enriching lessons for deeper student learning while strengthening local and national academic standards.”
— Donna Balado, Maryland State Department of Education
The MWEE consists of four essential elements that describe “what students do.” These elements promote a learner-centered approach that emphasizes the role of the student in actively constructing meaning from the learning experiences. Throughout the process students have time for reflection, allowing them to refocus on how what they are learning and experiencing affects the driving question.
Students focus on a driving question that addresses a locally relevant environmental issue, problem, or phenomenon requiring background research and investigation. Students learn more about the issue through classroom instruction and by making observations, collecting data, conducting experiments, talking to experts, and reviewing credible publications. They also reflect on personal and public values and perspectives related to the issue.
Outdoor Field Experiences
Students participate in one or more outdoor field experiences sufficient to investigate the issue, problem, or phenomenon. Investigations may involve making observations, collecting data, and/or conducting other activities required for answering their questions and informing student actions. To the extent possible and within appropriate safety guidelines, students are actively involved in planning the inquiry that occurs during the outdoor field experience(s). These experiences can take place off-site and on the school grounds.
Synthesis and Conclusions
Students identify, synthesize, and apply evidence from their investigations to draw conclusions and make claims about the issue, problem, or phenomenon. Students communicate these conclusions and claims to internal and external audiences in venues that may range from the school classroom to the larger public community.
Students identify, explore, and implement solutions for action. The solutions address conclusions and claims drawn through investigation and action projects. Students reflect on the action and determine the extent to which the action successfully addressed the problem, challenge, or phenomenon reflected in the claim. Students may also share proposals for sustaining or extending the action.
The MWEE also includes four supporting practices that describe “what teachers do” to ensure success.