Wednesday, April 21, 2010

5 Ways to Teach "Green" That You May Not Know

Along with 500+ other teachers, I have pledged to go paperless tomorrow in honor of Earth Day. Though this is a worthy cause and certainly gains awareness, there are many other things teachers can be doing on a daily basis to make our classrooms more "green" and set an earth friendly example.
Here are 5 great suggestions for teaching green that you may not know:

  1. Use old stuff in new ways. Old junk around the house can have creative new uses. Bubble wands make great "word finders," (early readers run the wand along the sentence and read the words as they "appear" in the wand.), baby formula containers spruced up with some decoupage make excellent pencil/marker/crayon tins. When we got a new dishwasher I salvaged the utensil basket from the old one to use for my guided reading materials. (Bonus- the holes work great for clipping my question cards on it!)
  2. Digitize Your Classroom Library Check-Out. This could be a post in itself (coming soon!), but it is quite easy to use free tools on the web to streamline your classroom library checkout. Forget wasting paper (and time!) having students write things down or make up little book cards- go digital and save some trees!
  3. Stop Making Posters. Aside from the fact that posters are (in my humble opinion) stupid (when was the last time you had to make a "poster" in corporate real-world?), they are a huge waste of paper- ditched in the trash as soon as they are presented. Save paper and have your students do alternative projects. Use websites like Glogster or DabbleBoard to illustrate points. If you simply must make a least save it and use the other side for future projects.
  4. Teach Students to Take Notes. I am so very frustrated when I see students find something from the internet they want to use for a project, and what do they do?! They print the page! Hello! Wasting Trees! Students need to be taught how to paraphrase notes from information they see online, as well appropriate cut/paste techniques, so they don't just print three pages of a website when all they really want is one or two facts.
  5. Ditch Daily Worksheets. Lots of teacher's do daily warm-ups, printing off unnecessary paper for practice (especially when they aren't even collected). Even those teachers conscious enough to use 1/2 sheets or print double sided could still easily eliminate the paper use by writing the problems on a board (white or smart, your choice) and having students use personal marker boards (a blank page put in a sheet protector works great as a makeshift marker board) to complete the problems.
And as a bonus thought- stop printing out "extras" for students who can't keep track of their papers. If you have 25 students- print out 25 copies. If they lose it ask them to hand copy the information from your master onto a sheet of paper. Once or twice of doing this and they'll remember to keep track of papers. When we continue to give kids extra copies for their carelessness or disorganization we are teaching them that it is okay to live in a disposable society where we can always get more of something. It's not.

Please feel free to comment with your suggestions for teaching green!

No comments: