Saturday, April 20, 2013

Earth Day Teaching Resources

I am so excited about Earth Day on Monday. In fact, I think we should celebrate Earth Day all week! The words of Theodore Roosevelt, one of the greatest leaders of conservation movement, remind me to pause and reflect on our vast blessings:
"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune." 
After Roosevelt became President in 1901, he used his authority to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the U.S. Forest Service and establishing 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 4 National Game Preserves, 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks, and enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act, which he used to proclaim 18 National Monuments. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt protected approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land.

Yet, there are so MANY important educational topics, beyond conservation, that we must teach, like sustainability and renewable energy. Unfortunately, many of them involve concepts, vocabulary and issues can be quite challenging to cover in one just lesson or with younger students.

If you haven't had time to put together an Earth Day lesson, I have a few resources for you. You might use either my free Bio Poems Made Easy activity or my Character Bio Reports lesson to study a conservation leader, such as President Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, or Jane Goodall. You can also find free lessons on my Rainforest Teaching Resources page. Because of the vast amounts of oxygen produced by rain forests, they can be considered the "lungs" of the earth, yet many students have no idea of their importance. In addition, I just updated this Green Court Claims lesson from last year to make it Common Core Aligned. It's a wonderful research and writing activity that will make your students think about claims that companies make about their "green" products.

The Story of Stuff
If you are game for a more advanced lesson, I have one that I think you’ll like. It involves showing this free 20-minute Story of Stuff video. This video, created by Annie Leonard, explains where our stuff comes from and the problems faced by our stuff-driven society. Be sure to check out the rest of this website, for more great resources.


I think you will be amazed when you watch this video. To use it with your class, I suggest downloading my free lesson that goes with it. You can grab it from my Science Teaching Resources page. My lesson includes a chart for students to fill in as they watch the video; however, you don’t need to print one out for each student. You can project it on an interactive whiteboard and fill it out as a class. You could also have students draw the chart on recycled paper or draw a huge chart on a chalkboard and fill it in as a class. My Story of Stuff lesson also includes discussion questions and those don't require any paper at all!

A word of caution ... Be sure to preview the entire Story of Stuff video before showing it to your class. It’s most appropriate for 5th grade students and up, and it will take several class periods to watch and discuss completely. However, consumerism is such an important topic that it is worth doing over several days or at another time of year.

In the video, Annie shares that from the extraction of natural resources through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives has a huge impact on the earth as well as communities around the world. However, most of the process of extraction, production, distribution, and consumption to disposal of all this stuff, called the materials economy, is hidden from view.

The video walks through each step of the materials economy process and points out what is missing from the equation. She shares that while the process looks like a linear system, we live on a finite planet, which is why the materials economy is a system in crisis.

The Story of Stuff also comes as a book, ebook, or audio book. Of course, the best option for a green lifestyle is the Kindle ebook or the audio book!

I hope you will share this terrific video or the book with others, even if you don't share it with your students. It really makes us all think twice more before we decide to go shopping again.

Happy Earth Day!

1 comment:

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