I interviewed kindergarteners at Falk Elementary, and asked them what they thought the phrase, “Go Green” meant. Most of them had no idea. Next I asked them what it meant to save the environment. This got more responses. By far the most popular way to save the earth was to recycle. However, when I asked students what it meant to recycle I got lots of blank stares.
This helped me realize for my sustainability unit that I really had to unpack what the term “Go Green” means. A lot of students had heard it before but had no idea what it was about. This issue is extremely relevant to the lives of everyone on Earth, and students need to understand what it means and why it is important. The interview also showed me that I need to touch on recycling, but I also need to explore other ways we can help our Earth. Clarifying what recycling is and why it is important was necessary because students were confused about it. However, going green is so much more than just recycling, so I thought it was important to discuss several other ways students can reduce their ecological footprint.
These reflections helped me form my big ideas for the unit:
What does Going Green mean?
Why is Going Green important?
How can I Go Green?
I. Ecological Footprint
V. Buying Local
Throughout the lessons I have several objectives. The content objectives are numbered—those objectives are also referred to throughout my process. If during the lesson process I meet a specific content objective, the number of the objective is in parenthesis at that point.
My lessons have no specific time frame. Some lessons may take only one class period, however some may take a whole week. It depends on the students’ interest in the topic. There is lots of room for extension in all of these lessons. After students explore a way to “Go Green” they may want to share this idea with others, or they may want to write to the government to ask why large companies aren’t required to follow these green policies, or they may want to be done with it. It all depends on what the students say and how interested they are. There is a lot of room for social advocacy if the passion and desire is within the students.
I only list the social studies standards present within my lessons. Most of my lessons are integrated into several other subject areas as well. While they also meet those subject area’s standards, I only list the social studies standards. I think the fact that these lessons form an integrated curriculum is very beneficial to students—they can see that Going Green affects all subject areas of school, and more importantly, all areas of our lives.
One of the reasons I love this unit so much is because of its cultural relevancy. It is relevant in every way to the lives of the students I am teaching. Going Green is such a huge issue in today's society, that it affects everyone. We visit the local grocery store, see how waste is disposed of in and around our school, learn where our food comes from, visit the local farmers' market, and see how this topic affects people around the world. Students learn why Going Green is important and how they can take steps to lessen their ecological footprints themselves.
I hope you enjoy the unit!