“This is awesome! You guys are going to be the pedestal by which we hold everybody else up,” IISG environmental educator Kirsten Hope Walker proclaimed to a roomful of teachers last week at the Discovery Charter School in Porter, Ind.

What was so “awesome” is the school’s adoption and focus on the Great Lakes Literacy Principles for the upcoming year.
Discovery Charter School, a public school of about 500 students from grades kindergarten through eighth, was founded six years ago with an emphasis on place-based education.
So what better place to learn about the Great Lakes when the Indiana Dunes and Lake Michigan are right within sight?
Last year Sarah Pavlovic, the school naturalist, and her colleagues began brainstorming ways to introduce the principles.
“When we put together the standards, we tried to tailor it to what we knew grade levels were already doing and already focusing on, so hopefully it would make it easy for them to expand upon it a little bit and think about it in terms of Great Lakes literacy,” Pavlovic said.

Allison Defrain, who has been teaching second grade for 10 years, is looking forward to the new approach to a well-worn topic.

“We’ve always taught weather, but never incorporated it with Great Lakes weather,” Defrain said. “This year we’re going to have to focus it more on our region and the Great Lakes and how it impacts this.”
That mindset is exactly what Pavlovic is aiming for.
“Even if they were doing the same things, if you could think about it in a different framework and you might draw in broader ideas,” Pavlovic said. “I’m hoping that it will take off.”
To learn more, check out the Great Lakes Literacy Principles website.