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Elementary, Mid & High School

Green Principles for Your School


by Elisabeth Bailey, Writer

Going Green Resources .com

There are many ways to bring environmentalism into schools--integrated curricula, community events, and special projects are all important activities in raising environmental awareness. Most important, however, are the underlying principles that tie them together.

Principles are different from rules. They are broad expressions of fundamental truths as agreed upon by your community. Democracy, for instance, is a principle. In a school community that is appropriately respectful of diversity, these truths are necessarily wide and contain room for a range of personal beliefs.

Principles are big, so dare to think big. A school community is much larger than the student body. It includes the faculty, staff, families, and neighbors. When your school decides upon its formal statement of principles, invite input from all these people. A series of public conversations is a great way to do this (and a great way to get press for your school!). Look for ways to include the larger community when you put your principles into practice, as well.

Most importantly, ask the kids for their ideas. Appropriate environmental practices change all the time. Your students will experience decades of ecological changes in their lives. The skill they most need to successfully navigate their future is the ability to grow and change along with the world around them. You can nurture that ability by treating their current ideas and opinions with respect and by eliciting their input.


Each school and community is different, so no two statements of principles read quite the same--but here's an example of a Statement of Principles that works for nearly everybody:

  • We promote sustainability in our school activities.
  • We take care of the health of our immediate ecosystem.
  • We know that the environment is connected to everything we learn.
  • We believe in personal and global ecological responsibility.
  • We understand that we are a part of Nature.
  • We are working to become the change needed in the world.
  • Do you want to learn more about Green Principles before starting an initiative at your school? Check out ecoliteracy.org and greenhearted.org for more great examples and ideas!


    Green Curriculum for Your School


    by Elisabeth Bailey, Writer

    Going Green Resources .com

    These days, educators know that ecological literacy is of increasing importance. Luckily, integrating green principles into your curriculum can be easy and fun. Ecology education experts generally agree that young children need to know and love nature well before they study its problems. In the early years, this simply means enjoying and learning about the world outside. After the age of ten, it is appropriate to address more complex issues of sustainability and environmental damage.


    For children of any age, the repeated experience of being in nature is fundamental. With that in mind, here are some tips for integrating green practices and ideas into your curriculum:

  • Take the children outdoors as much as possible. Brainstorm ways to take the lessons you teach outside. This will foster a love and understanding of your immediate environment. Include undirected play in a variety of natural settings--can you take your students to woods, fields, ponds, and botanical gardens?
  • Begin a community garden at your school. Gardens are a wonderful place for kids to learn science, math, ecology, and cooperation! They're also a great way to create healthy food choices for students.
  • Have the students keep "earth scrapbooks". Encourage them to draw pictures, take photographs, insert dried flowers, and write all about the world around them. They can also be used to collect and analyze ecological data, record observations and stories about the environment, and retain notes about field trips.
  • Play detective as a group and investigate the ecosystem where your school was built. Was it grassy? Wooded? Swampy? What kinds of animals and plants used to live there? Depending on the age of your school, you may wish to invite long-term neighbours to come talk about the ecology of the area.
  • Structure lesson plans about your bioregion. What makes your region distinctive from the surrounding areas? Make some bioregional maps with the students, allowing them to create artistic and personal visual representations of their homes, school, and community.

    Want more tips and ideas for creating lesson plans? Take a look at some of the following resources:

    State of California

    UNESCO

    EPA


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