Resources Glossary of Terms About Reflect Act Create Investigate Connecting The Coast Home Page Resources


The Connecting the Coasts website takes a systems approach to creating service learning experience that will help you investigate these Lake Superior Basin issues. Even if you do not live in the Lake Superior Basin, there is a good chance that many of the same issues are also affecting your local community.


students cleanup
This service learning project involves students investigating into how invasive plants are affecting the Lake Superior Basin; then identifying and removing them from a wetland where they invaded and threatened

An Internet search will reveal many excellent web-based resources that explain the concept of service learning, why it is an effective teaching tool, and how to incorporate it into high school curriculum. Service learning works because it combines experiential learning and the personal satisfaction students gain from helping others. To be effective, the service must meet a real need and is both a means and an application of learning.

CTC web-based curriculum that applies these concepts to real world issues affecting the health and sustainability of the Lake Superior Basin, also called the Lake Superior Watershed, as identified in over 10 years of research by the Lake Superior Bi-National Program.

The curriculum poses these issues within the context of the community sustainability, meaning the interaction between natural resources, use of these resources to provide jobs and income, and society's demands for resources. Activities are related directly to learning goals and issue resolution strategies identified in the Lake Superior LaMP and can be linked to the Wisconsin Academic Standards.



The CTC curriculum encourages students, in collaboration with their teachers and colleagues, to incorporate these elements into their service learning projects.

test tableInvestigate Critical Issues

Through the INVESTIGATE sections, students will use a systems approach to investigate critical issues affecting the Lake Superior Basin as identified in the Lake Superior LaMP. Sustainability is the portal through which students will investigate all of the other critical issues.

Information contained in the CTC is presented from researched-based sources used in the Lake Superior LaMP documents.

Students may plan and conduct additional research, systematic field investigations and/or monitoring projects, and work with their partners to understand a priority issue within a community and/or watershed context. This information becomes the foundation on which the student develops a service learning project and action plan that includes restoration/resolution and community outreach education.

man on beach

Create A Service Learning Project

Students design and conduct a service-learning project that will lead toward resolution of a priority issue as identified by science-based research contained in the Lake Superior LaMP. Projects should be student driven based on his/her learning style and interests. It integrates skills and learning from several disciplines and includes both independent and cooperative learning. This element includes ongoing monitoring and analysis of the effects of the project and how to use that information to improve future projects. The CTC CREATE section provides a template for students to use to develop their own service learning projects.

girl with net

Act On and Outreach Knowledge

Students engage community members in a deeper understanding of an issue. This may be through a variety of education outreach service learning; existing monitoring, restoration and other service activities; how they can be involved; and, recommendations for further action (e.g. policy development and management practices). The CTC site's ACT section is a toolbox of activities to spark student's ideas and guide them to develop meaningful community based service learning experiences that address critical issues.


Reflect, Evaluate, Celebrate

Students and their the educational team to evaluate how their CTC service learning experiences have helped resolve an issue while benefiting the community. This includes reflecting on the project, sharing results and recommendations with others, and celebrating its success.

Students are encouraged to incorporate a variety of reflective activities throughout their service-learning project, not just at the project's conclusion. The CTC website incorporates an interactive REFLECT section where students may post their activity and results as one way of sharing them with others. Reflection helps students make sense of their CTC service-learning project through web-based sharing and allows them to:



lake superior map
The Lake Superior Basin is highlighted in green.

The Lake Superior Basin or "Watershed"

Service learning is most effective when it is locally based. CTC uses the Lake Superior Watershed as the classroom for developing standards-based, service learning about environmental issues.

If you are a teacher or student outside the Lake Superior watershed, you can adapt the CTC curriculum to your local community environment and issues.

Community-Based Investigations

Service learning is most effective when it is applied to meaningful projects that help others. Students apply individual learning styles and critical-thinking skills to conduct investigations and activities to help resolve real problems affecting the Lake Superior Watershed.

The CTC activities are designed to address Wisconsin State standards-based content and skills, from multiple subject areas, by involving the local watershed and centered on the community-based investigation. The activities promote civic responsibility and can be integrated with other community-based programs.

Sustainability As A Model For Issue Resolution

CTC curriculum incorporates sustainability as the key overarching concept approach by examining interactions among natural and social systems, and their components in a watershed context. Many of these issues pertain to other local environments outside of the Lake Superior Basin. lake superior report cover

Addressing the Lake Superior Bi-National Program Issues

Service learning is most effective when it encourages students to become responsible, compassionate, engaged citizens. CTC service learning addresses critical issues affecting the health of the Lake Superior Watershed and involves students in activities that will help lead to their resolution.

Investigate the 2006 Lake Superior LaMP update

These issues and recommendations for their resolution are research-based as identified by international, state, provincial, tribes and First Nations, and community partner perspectives from around the Lake Superior Basin.

The primary objective of this LaMP is to encourage all human activity in the Lake Superior Basin to be consistent with ideas stated in A Vision for Lake Superior. Read this vision to see what these people feel is important about Lake Superior, then create your own vision for the Lake.

pathfinder logoCollaboration With Lake Superior Pathfinders Program

The CTC website is designed as a learning tool for high school level students and above. The CTC curriculum is also the framework for the Lake Superior Pathfinders environmental leadership program curriculum. It offers background information on issues for Pathfinders enrollees prior to attending this program. Cross links between the CTC website and the Pathfinders website allow students, whether or not they are enrolled in Pathfinders, to share the curriculum, research, service learning projects, reflections, and experiences.



watershed signAdopting a systems approach is like studying the big picture rather than just a piece of a puzzle. Instead of looking at a problem from a narrow perspective just one part of the environment such as the water, air and soil or a single resource like just the fish or trees; a systems approach a broader perspective that focuses on managing human uses and abuses of watersheds or bioregions. It considers all parts of the environment and resources as part of a whole living system.

CTC curriculum incorporates sustainability as the key overarching concept approach in applying a systems approach to examining interactions among natural and social systems, and their components within a watershed context.

Through Connecting The Coasts, you can investigate these critical Lake Superior issues and develop service-learning projects to help solve them in your community:

wind turbine Developing Sustainability
Sustainability is the overarching concern affecting the future of the Lake Superior Basin. Because it connects the remaining critical issues, it is the portal through which students begin the CTC investigations . Human use of the Lake Superior ecosystem should be consistent with the highest social and scientific standards for sustainable use, and should not degrade it, or any adjacent ecosystems. Use of the Basin's natural resources should be consistent with their compatibility to sustain the ecosystem's identity and functions. It should not risk the socioeconomic and cultural foundations of any citizens, nor deny any generation the benefits of a healthy, natural Lake Superior ecosystem.
smoke stacks

Critical Pollutants
Levels of persistent, bioaccummulative and toxic chemicals should not impair beneficial uses of the natural resources of the Lake Superior Basin. Levels of chemical contaminants, which are persistent, bioaccummulative, and toxic, should ultimately be virtually eliminated in the air, water and sediment in the Lake Superior Basin. A zero discharge demonstration program is the primary means for reducing sources of contaminants that are coming from within the Basin.


Aquatic Communities
Lake Superior should sustain diverse, healthy, reproducing and self-regulating aquatic communities closely representative of historical conditions.


Habitat in the Lake Superior Basin and the ecosystem processes that sustains it should be protected, maintained and restored. Our uses of the land and water uses should be designed to be compatible with sustaining the protective and productive functions of these ecosystems.

boy with fish

Human Health Current and emerging threats to human health and potential adverse effects caused by exposure to critical pollutants and other contaminants found in the Lake Superior Basin should be identified and strategies to protect human health implemented.


Aquatic Invasive Species
Aquatic Invasive Species or AIS can upset the natural balance within ecosystems through displacement of native species, reduction in species diversity, destruction of habitat, and degradation of water related recreation.



wisc coast management logo The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program
uw extension logo University of Wisconsin-Extension
  Northern Great Lake Visitor Center Office
pathfinder logo Pathfinders Lake Superior Leadership Program
lake superior binational logo The Lake Superior Bi-National Program
epa logo The Environmental Protection Agency



Facing the Future Service Learning Framework-Make Your Teaching Stick, and Change The World!:

Service learning toolkit.

From WI DPI; Service Learning Websites and references.



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