PLT (Project Learning Tree)
What is PLT?
Project Learning Tree® is an award winning, multi-disciplinary environmental education program for educators and students in pre-K through grade 12. PLT, a program of the American Forest Foundation, is one of the most widely used environmental education programs in the United States and abroad. PLT continues to set the standard for environmental education excellence.
Teachers at a PLT workshop
PLT helps students learn how to think, not what to think, about the environment, using the constructivist approach to learning, whole language teaching, cooperative learning, problem solving, and authentic assessments. The curriculum materials provide the tools educators need to bring the environment into the classroom and their students out into their environment. Topics range from forests, wildlife, and water to community planning, waste management and energy.
PLT is a network of 3,000 grassroots volunteers and over 120 coordinators world-wide that work with formal and nonformal educators, school staff, state agencies, foresters, businesses, civic organizations, museums, nature centers, and youth groups to provide professional development programs. To date, more than 500,000 educators are trained in using PLT materials, reaching approximately 26 million students in the United States and abroad.
National PLT's website (leaves DEC's website) is a wealth of additional resources for each curricula and PDFs all of the student pages for all guides.
PLT's core curriculum guide for pre-K through 8th grade takes an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach to learning and contains more than 90 different lesson plans. In addition to teaching about science, trees, and forestry, PLT can be used to teach language arts, social studies, nutrition, mathematics, visual arts, and more. The PLT curriculum is correlated with the NYS Science Core Curriculum and NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum. To view the correlations visit National PLT's New York State Correlations' web page. (leaves DEC's website)
National PLT (leaves DEC's website) has correlated the pre-K to 8th grade guide to the Common Core State Standards (ELA and Math) and the Next Generation Science Standards, along with correlations to STEM learning, Boys Scouts badges, Girl Scouts badges, and FOSS Science Kits. The Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood's correlations to Head Start's Child Outcomes Framework and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards are also found on National PLT's Correlations page. (leaves DEC's website and link listed in the right column)
PLT's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood
In 2010, PLT created an early childhood curriculum and produced an accompanying music CD providing a valuable resource designed specifically for early childhood educators. This curriculum guide and music CD engages children ages 3 to 6 in outdoor exploration and play. Eleven field-tested, hands-on activities showcase over 130 "early childhood experiences" which integrate investigations of nature with art, literature, math, music and movement.
PLT's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood guide includes background information on facilitating experiences for the early childhood learner, how to guide children in learning about nature both indoors and outdoors, and clear objectives and benchmarks to assess learning. It also includes suggestions for activities that families and friends can conduct to enhance their child's learning experiences at home.
Secondary modules are available for high school educators in grades 9 through 12, including Exploring Environmental Issues: Biodiversity (online); Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Forests (print); The Changing Forest: Forest Ecology (print); Exploring Environmental Issues: Municipal Solid Waste (print); Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Risk (print); Exploring Environmental Issues: Places We Live; and Global Connections: Forests of the World (print). A biotechnology supplement for the Focus on Risk module is in development.
To obtain the PLT curriculum, you must attend a three-hour Early Childhood or Secondary workshop or a six-hour pre-K to 8th grade workshop. Workshops are offered periodically throughout the state and are facilitated by a trained educator. The workshops are usually FREE, or cost a nominal fee to cover lunch or room rental by a co-sponsor. Check the current educator workshop schedule to see where and when the next PLT workshop will be held.
For information on PLT or to schedule a workshop, contact the NY PLT State Coordinator:
NYSDEC, Environmental Education
615 Erie Blvd West
Syracuse, NY 13204
In New York State, PLT is co-sponsored by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Empire State Forestry Foundation.