Groundswell is a place-based environmental education program housed in the College of Education at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We support K-12 educators who want to take their students beyond the classroom, in partnership with a coalition of community organizations. Groundswell students engage in community-based learning and environmental stewardship to protect the Grand River and the Great Lakes. We provide free teacher training, project funding, connections with community partners, and additional support depending on the school’s individual needs and interests.
“By taking students out in the field, we nudge the door open so students ask questions, make observations, look for problems, and seek solutions. They start to understand they are part of this world and they indeed can make a difference.” – Nijagara Davidson, Groundswell Teacher
Thank you for your interest in Groundswell! Click here to learn more about the benefits Groundswell offers teachers and steps for getting involved.
Groundswell Program Materials
Click here for the current Groundswell program materials, forms, and project funding applications. You will find the following documents here: calendar of professional development workshops, Team Information Form, Initial Project Proposal, Detailed Project Proposal, project funding criteria, program information to share with parents and other educators, and more!
Student Showcase Resources
Groundswell is proud to celebrate the work of student stewards through its annual Groundswell Student Showcase. Each year, students share two-minute videos about their community stewardship activities. Parents, teachers, and community members come together to watch these videos on the big screen at a local movie theater.
These videos are powerful tools for telling people about all the great things students are doing. They’re also extremely valuable for educating the public about environmental stewardship. But they can take a lot of time and effort to create. Click here for some helpful tips and information for creating your two-minute video.
Place-based Education Resources
“Place-based education has really increased student engagement! My students are not learning things for a test, but for real-life. The skills they are utilizing are making them step out of their comfort zone and are making a difference at our school/community.” – Darcy Black, Groundswell Teacher
Student 2 Steward (S2S)
Student 2 Steward (S2S) provides educators with a step-by-step process for developing community-based stewardship projects. These projects help your students see a link between classroom learning and their lives outside of school. Demonstrating this link improves student engagement and success.
You will learn to:
- Create a high-quality stewardship project that adheres to state standards
- Identify community partners to assist with carrying out a project
- Develop strategies to raise funds for your student project
These projects allow students to gain content knowledge and become more active citizens. They will learn first-hand how to make a difference in their communities. You will help inspire them to be stewards … they will inspire the world to be a better place.
Project-Based Learning – Buck Institute for Education
The Buck Institute for Education is a fantastic resource for more information about engaging your students in project-based learning (PBL). Below are the materials presented at the Groundswell Summer Institute 2016.
- PBL slideshow presentation
- PBL: Getting Started / Integrated Strategies articles
- Gold Standard PBL – Essential Project Design Elements / Teaching Practices
- Groundswell Project Resources and Planning Document
For more information, visit their website.
“Our students are not simply talking about how to clean up the pond down the street but the ponds in their yards, the swamps near their cottages. They are transferring both the knowledge and interest to many other places that are important to them and within their sphere of influence. ” – Susan Gray, Groundswell Teacher
Communities for Clean Water Video Series
Groundswell partnered with WGVU to create a series of educational videos about nonpoint source pollution. This type of pollution is one of the biggest threats to healthy lakes, streams, and rivers. Watch the videos to learn more about NPS pollution and what you can do to help protect our water. Engage your students by using the accompanying lesson plans created by our partners at the Annis Water Resources Institute.
Watershed Exploration Resources
Our teachers and partners create amazing resources to help you and your students explore the local watershed. This page houses resources presented during professional development sessions – and more. Check back often – we’re always posting new materials!
Cultural Competency Resources
We were fortunate to have representatives from The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan present at the Groundswell Summer Institute 2016. They shared strategies for teaching language learners and engaged us in discussion around cultural competency and issues specific to the Hispanic community in Grand Rapids. Below are some of the resources they provided.
Community Advocacy Resources
We were grateful for the opportunity to have a representative from LINC UP present at the Groundswell Summer Institute 2016. He shared strategies for advocacy and community engagement. Among the information he shared was the Midwest Academy’s strategy chart.
The Midwest Academy is an organization based out of Chicago dedicated to advancing social justice. Click here to visit their website.
Environmental Justice Resources
Many thanks to our community partners who fostered an engaging discussion around environmental justice at the Groundswell Summer Institute 2016. Below are some of the resources shared during that session.
- Principles of Environmental Justice – 17 principles adopted by the delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991
- “Greening the Ghetto” TED talk by Majora Carter – an inspiring talk by an activist fighting for environmental justice in the South Bronx
- Teaching Tolerance – classroom materials and other resources on diversity, equity, and justice
- Center for Ecoliteracy – classroom materials around ecological education, food and sustainability, and systems change
- EcoJustice Education – book on engaging students in environmental justice and sustainability
- A City within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan – book focusing on civil rights struggles in Grand Rapids