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Green Teaching


With concerns about energy prices and global warming now at that forefront of the national consciousness, interest in environmental education in schools is growing dramatically, according to USA Today.

Among the signs of the times: A bill is now making its way through Congress that would give states funding to develop green curricula and increase teacher training in environmental areas. And the National Environmental Education Foundation, which works with schools and other organizations to improve environmental literacy, has seen its partner list increase fivefold over the past two years.

“A lot of people are thinking and talking about environmental topics lately and teachers want to respond to what’s happening today,” said NEEF senior director Karen Heys.

Even as lawmakers work on that environmental-education bill, however, some experts say the main obstacle to greener learning is none other than the No Child Left Behind Act. That law’s testing provisions, they say, have forced many schools to focus intensively on reading and math, to the exclusion of less traditional subjects.

Even so, many teachers appear to be working green activities into their lessons, from recycling projects to solar-powered model car races to video screenings on global warming.

The goal, says a 6th grade science teacher at Washington's Sidwell Friends School, is to get students to “come to understand the many different applications of green technologies and the role, hopefully, that sustainability will play in their lives.”


If going green is truly such an important item creeping into our curriculum, why not use the proven method of modeling to show green in the physical architecture of the schools?

Granted, retrofitting older schools would be difficult, but why aren't newer schools being built with solar/wind options? Some schools would be able to actually turn a profit if they sell surplus power generated back to the power companies - especially in the summer months.

Yes, it costs more up front, but the savings in energy costs AND the demonstration of using solar/wind would be more than worth it.

Just an observation.

Teachers need to lead by example. We need to make sure we are "living green". In order that I may "practice what I preach", I only buy eco-friendly products. I found a company that was environmentally-friendly long before it became popular. Check it out for yourself http://www.shaklee.net/sharonking

I agree that environmental topics fit in nicely with just about every subject topic. I teach AP Environmental Science and I think that environmentalism is really for everybody. Math teachers can do problems of calculating the punds of CO2 given off when a certain amount of gasoline is combusted. History teachers can relate how decisions in the past may have been for environmental reasons, etc. The lesson plans for ebnvironmentally related topics is endless. Just pick up a good newspaper, such as the LA Times or NY Times, and cut out the articles for your students to read. There is a minimum of 10% of all newspaper articles are environmental articles, the teacher jsut has to help them to make the environmental connectio9n. Especially check out the business sections of the newspapers. See howthe price os oil is fluctuating and why; check out why SUV and pickup trucks are not selling now; check out the Home section for ideas on greening a home or apartment; check out the Sports pages to see why Beijing cannot fully remove its terrible air pollution problem; check out the editorial pages to see lively debates on why or why not to drill for oil and natural gas at ANMR or the continental shelf of the US.

I think the global warming thing is a myth. If you study the solar cycle you will find that we are in the middle of an intense solar maximum right now. The Sun will be hotter than it has been since 1859 in the year 2012. Then, it will cycle back to a more normal state and all this stuff about global warming will wane into nothing again. But, some will have made a ton of money on the whole thing because we love a crisis to solve don't we?

This article mentions various ways to teach "greener". I feel that if some of these ways were used in the classroom it could help students to make the realization that the time to live environmentally friendly is now. Although teachers will be unable to produce immediate results, they are the best people to express these ideas because they have the children for a majority of the day. However, every action has a consequence and the students need to realize that as well.

Green living has little to do with global warming, whether that is a reality or a myth. It has everything to do with good stewardship. Consider your car, your means of transportation. You maintain your car so that it will last a long time and provide dependable transportation. You might also keep it looking nice so the neighbors won't think you're a bum or just because you like things to look good. Spaceship earth is like that to some degree; however, we won't be able to trade it in for a new model when we wear this one out. My parent's generation was frugal. Recycling, reusing, and reducing was a way of life for them. Somewhere along the line we became a disposable society. Now, some believe it is our right and our mission to expend all resources and toss them aside. Making schools green will not be easy in terms of solar and wind power transformation; the budgets will not allow that. But there is much we can do as individuals and as intelligent human beings with a clear sense of responsibility to the greater good of all, I pray that each and everyone of us takes the steps to make this world a better place, instead of looking for reasons to justify our negligence.

Environmental literacy is important because students grow up to become local officials, board members, and voters and have to make many choices about land use changes, zoning, and natural and cultural resource stewardship. Many students graduating from high school can identify hundreds of labels and brands but cannot identify the trees in his/her school yard, or talk about wildlife habitat needs of local wildlife and birds, or identify where the one-room schools were a hundred years ago in the school community. They don't know that without soil, there would be no hamburgers--they know very little about soil or the chain of events of food supply. That is why there is an outcry to again connect students with nature--a connection that is lost when students only spend time with the electronic world.

There is a very good website on place-based education that has good information about weaving the environment into every class from the science classes to literature to history to social/civic skills: www.promiseofplace.org. It has good information on turning every schoolyard into a living classroom and using federal, state and local public lands as a laboratory where exploration of many differ natural processes can take place.

To reduce waste and save paper, I eliminated worksheets. Even our homework is online. You may read about it here:


Thank you for posting about this important issue. It's great that schools are bringing more of the challenging issues of our time into the classroom and helping students think critically and creatively about the impact of our choices. But we shouldn't stop with just thinking about how we can be more eco-friendly. Our choices have a much broader effect. Every choice we make is a "vote" for justice, compassion, sustainability, peace and kindness, or a "vote" for injustice, violence, cruelty and destruction. Helping students learn about the interconnectedness of all issues (human rights, environmental preservation, media and culture, animal protection) and then giving them the tools and skills to make their own choices and to solve these problems creatively is some of the most important work we as teachers can do.

Having perused previous posts from others I am inclined to add to the thread dealing with whether or not green education is justified by a global warming argument. I am less concerned with whether or not global warming is a long-term reality and more concerned with the rationale that living responsibly includes making intentional choices to protect the environment; or at least to minimize the damage as much as possible. It requires little common sense to realize landfill space is finite, vehicle and fuel emissions increase air pollution, sustainable resources are better choices than non-sustainable ones, etc. Additionally, as a college professor who teaches a science methods course for education majors, I'm pleased with the possibility of additional environmental education for teachers and students. I hope this will help facilitate a return to some solid science education as well, which has received little more than a passing hello in most elementary schools over the past eight years. If global warming is this century's Sputnik, so be it.

My school, The Children's School recieved a grant from Co-Ed in Illinois to add Solar Panel to our school roof and our current building search includes what locations can be made green to fit our needs.

This group does green school building:

The important legislation cited in this article, which would offer U.S. students higher quality environmental education, is entitled the No Child Left Inside Act. Its sponsors are Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD.) In addition to appropriating $500 million over five years for better classroom environmental learning, the Act would set such studies as a priority under the U.S. Department of Education. As of last Spring, the proposal was mired in Congressional committees. To help advance it toward a House and Senate floor vote, advocates say they'd welcome public support. One avenue is to join the No Child Left Inside Coalition, an organization of more than 195 environmental, educational, public health, and outdoor recreation proponents from across the U.S. Educators' voices on behalf of NCLI would be a significant stride toward assuring there will be a restoration of affinity between our children and nature.

The Marcus Whitman Central School ECO Program (Rushville, NY) is beginning its twelfth year of experiential learning with an environmental focus for middle school students. Place-based learning in the forests and fields and waterways of our local region provides our students with engagement and excitement and an intimate understanding of their relationship within the natural world. It provides an essential focal point for writing and discussion, reflection and growth, physical and mental exercise. Learn more about ECO at mwcsd.org!

this is such an importat topic and here at teritarey level we have a competency which teaches Diploma of Children's Servcies students how to foster an environmentally sustainable attitude in children birth - 5years in early childhood settings. This competency includes maths and science so fits environmental education beautifully.

The Beauty of Being Green: New York Educator Named Winner Of Origins “What Makes You Eco-Fabulous?™ NEW YORK – Origins, a brand committed to promoting beauty and wellness through natural products, named New York City teacher Gioya DeSouza-Fennelly the winner of their “What Makes You Eco-Fabulous?™” campaign. The campaign invited the environmentally-conscious consumer to submit video, blogs or images describing how they embrace an organic and natural lifestyle. After reviewing hundreds of applicants, Origins representatives selected the Bronx, NY resident for her overwhelming dedication to environmental initiatives. “Origins has always celebrated the connection between Mother Nature and Human Nature and this campaign gave us a unique opportunity to see how our consumers also live by these principles,” said Kay Su, director, Origins Online Marketing. “We had a lot of amazing entries, but Gioya DeSouza-Fennelly’s story stood out. In addition to living ‘green' day-to-day in her personal life, she also educates and inspires upcoming generations to be eco-conscious.” DeSouza-Fennelly took interest in the global environment while growing up in Goa, India. After moving to the United States, she received her M.S. in Biophysical Chemistry from Fordham University and became a science educator with the New York City Department of Education; she currently teaches at Intermediate School 143 in the Washington Heights community of Northern Manhattan (IS 143). In an effort to cultivate a new generation of "eco-techies," a term DeSouza-Fennelly uses to describe her passion, she also obtained certification as a Horticultural Therapist and Landscape Designer at the New York Botanical Gardens. This has helped her to strengthen the integration of environmental education into her science curriculum. With this experience she pioneered the development of the Penny Harvest Garden, a handicapped-accessible organic school garden funded by donations, and the Junior Master Gardener Program, which engages students in service-learning projects at school and in the local community. “I know as individuals we can make a difference, but I am fortunate to have a captive audience of 120 students each year who if instilled with the responsibility of being stewards of this planet, will go out and make positive choices as adults,” said DeSouza-Fennelly. The students in DeSouza-Fennelly’s class are immersed in environmental awareness. “All project-based learning incorporates only recycled materials and every aspect of the curriculum is linked to real-life practices,” said DeSouza-Fennelly. “Students learn about indoor and outdoor pollutants, how to test the air quality in their community and organic gardening. Most importantly each student is required to design ‘The Perfect Planet’ which would be their legacy for the next generation. This project gives students the opportunity to educate their families and communities in earth-friendly practices.” DeSouza-Fennelly is now working on raising funds to build a rooftop “Living Lab” greenhouse powered by alternate clean energy on top of IS 143. This would allow students to learn sustainability and real-life “green skills” while addressing all the National Science Standards. For her dedication to environmental initiatives and education DeSouza-Fennelly was awarded a four night stay, including airfare and breakfast, for two at Hotel Terra Jackson Hole in Teton Village, WY. The exclusive resort is renowned for its commitment to luxury as well as sustainability. In addition to the stay at Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, she also received a bevy of organic goodies including the entire line of Origins Organics™,the first full line of prestige skin, body and hair care products certified under USDA NOP standards, fine organic cotton bed linens from LOOP Organics and more! “My children got me hooked on Origins years ago and now I’m an avid shopper,” said DeSouza-Fennelly. “It’s an honor to be acknowledged by a brand that I’ve always admired for their wonderful products and their continued commitment to the preservation of earth, animal and environment.” Gioya and her family act as role models as they drive a car which is fueled by used cooking oil from local restaurants , grow their produce in self watering containers made from used cat litter pails and have turned their 118 acre farm in Upstate NY into a refuge for protected species like the spotted salamander , butterflies and trilliums .

I see that a company is now offering a student planner that is about going green that is printed on recycled paper and uses recycled plastic for the spiral coil. It appears that each page is dedicated to messages about the environment. I also see that they offer a recycling program so that once it is used it can be returned for recycling once again. As an educator, I really like products like this that keep an important issue in the students' minds daily, and since the student planners are used every day to record key information this seems like a great way to get the message out to the students. If interested you can see it and download a sample page or flip through a few pages on the interactive sample at: http://successbydesign.com/prod-tgp.htm
I am excited about this product!

I see that a company (Success By Design) is now offering a student planner that is about going green that is printed on recycled paper and uses recycled plastic for the spiral coil. It appears that each page is dedicated to messages about the environment. I also see that they offer a recycling program so that once it is used it can be returned for recycling once again. As an educator, I really like products like this that keep an important issue in the students' minds daily, and since the student planners are used every day to record key information this seems like a great way to get the message out to the students. If interested you can see it and download a sample page or flip through a few pages on the interactive sample at: http://successbydesign.com/prod-tgp.htm
I am excited about this product!

In response to Mr. Campbell's posting on August 18th, and in agreement with Ms. Jackson Tabor who posted on August 22nd, whether or not Global Warming is a reality or a myth is besides the point to be made here. The bottom line is that the planet's population is growing in a space that is not. We are generating an alarming amount of waste each year, irresponsibly impacting our environment. Educating people about the whys and the hows of green alternatives should be one of our main focuses as science teachers. There will always be individuals making money out of ideas, and a judgment on its merit or credibility should not be based on such red herring.

Today's children are our tommorrow. When I was In elementary school, back in the 80's, We were taught to reduce, reuse, recycle. We were taught about renewable and non-renewable resources, and we were taught about pollution and environmental concerns. Now, years later as an elementary teacher, I feel that testing and test scores and arbitrary academic standards have taken up alot of time that I would love to spend on environmental and social situations. I do my best to ask them to recycle, but I'm not in the lunch room. In our classroom if we have a party, we do our best. If schools could make it easier by having separate recepticles readily available, or instituting a school wide plan that would make it alot easier.

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