Bring green into the classroom

2017-02-28 06:00

Top green school teacher tips

Connect the dots

INSTILLING a sense of connectedness to nature and the environment, be it a forest, field, or urban landscape, is essential to helping fledgling tree huggers care about the world around them. Teach your pupils about global issues such as climate change and endangered species, look to local issues such as recycling, storm-water runoff, or air pollution. Making it personal and connecting it to your community makes it real.

Calculate your carbon footprint

Carbon and environmental footprint calculators help us see how much impact we have on the world around us. If everyone in the world lived like we did, we’d need five planets worth of resources to sustain life as we need know it. Using these online tools as fun games can really drive home the point of what kind of impact each of us has. Learn about your environmental footprint and check out some of our favourite carbon footprint calculators. Then create a plan to reduce your group footprint.

Conduct an energy audit in the classroom

You don’t have get too technical to teach your pupils about energy use; you can simply take stock of where and how you’re using energy, by assessing where in the classroom energy is going (and being wasted). A simple energy audit can help out. How many lights are on? Is there heat or A/C? Do the computers get left on at night? Determine where you can cut back, then create a checklist kids can follow every day. Adjusting computer monitor settings, turning the lights off before recess, have a “lights-off” hour once per week, and so on can help raise awareness. If you do want to physically measure the energy you are using, the Kill-a-Watt is a great, inexpensive measurement tool.

Get to school greenly

Biking, walking, public transportation or the bus to school can all help reduce carbon emissions. Biking to school has even has health benefits and has been shown to be more important for kids than breakfast. Lead by example and try green transport options for yourself. Discuss with pupils their experiences in getting to school more greenly. What was better? What was annoying? Websites that can help include:

•Cancel a car

•Follow safe routes for children

•“walking” buses

•Green your supplies in the classroom

Whether or not you have the support of your school, you can do your best to green your classroom supplies by choosing environmentally friendly new materials when possible, and also starting a classroom program to collect and reuse gently used supplies from past and present students. If possible, choose 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper. You can also make your own notebooks from old paper.

Start a zero-waste-in-the-classroom policy

School-wide recycling is a brilliant move...but implementing can be tougher than teaching long division to an eight-year-old.

If your school isn’t recycling at-large, start a classroom-wide policy of “zero-waste.” Set up recycling bins (teachers, students, and parents can volunteer to be responsible for removal), audit how much rubbish is created in a day.

Sorting trash (it doesn’t have to be gross) will help children understand how much waste they are creating in a day, and where it’s all coming from. Challenge them to pack zero-waste lunches by using reusable bottles, containers, and satchels, rather than disposable ones. Competing with another classroom to see who can reduce their waste output most will create healthy competition and less waste.

Grow a garden, or take a nature walk

Creating a garden or “backyard habitat” on school grounds is great for experiential learning. Growing food and native plants can really help kids connect with the world just outside their door, as well as the food chain and sustainable agriculture.

- Kenny Luna, Meaghan O’Neill and Manon Verchot

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