Guide to Composting for Schools

POSTED ON BEHALF OF AUDREY VAN GILDER

I found this pretty wonderful “guide to composting” for schools, created by a Connecticut middle school after its successful efforts to reduce waste, and written in a way to make the process replicable.

http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/compost/compost_pdf/schmanual.pdf

Young kids would likely be most excited by the idea of participating in composting, but ideally this resource can be applied to any formal or informal educational setting, especially those with science or conservation objectives. Rural schools might have an initial advantage in starting composting projects because the know-how, infrastructure, and space are plentiful, but composting in an urban setting can be just as useful (especially with the popularization of urban gardens and farms).

Composting fits into a school’s culture and curriculum in many different ways, and students can be active participants in a process that not only results in a less harmful end product (thereby benefiting the community and surrounding environment), but that also engages them in a scientific, hands-on, never-ending project. After an administration makes the logistical arrangements, the rest is up to teachers to involve their students in an activity with tangible results and with the potential to foster increased awareness of, concern for and engagement with the environment. Beginning on page 43, the Connecticut manual lays out specific lesson plans that educators can use as guides for incorporating the school’s composting efforts into classrooms. Each asks students to not only participate in the compost process, but also to reflect on the experience and how it changed their conception of waste.

Teaching and participating in a compost program most fully supports the community and skill building pillars of peace education. The knowledge and skills students can gain even through a short composting stint are substantial and can influence the choices they make outside school. But the potential for community building that this resource has extends far beyond the individual students, contributing to a community of engaged, environmentally thoughtful, and conscientious learners.

How about a day for peace?

Actor turned filmmaker Jeremy Gilley founded Peace One Day after realizing that there was no starting point for peace, no day of global unity, no day for intercultural cooperation, and no day for when humanity came together. Gilley felt that if we united as one then that might be the key to humanity’s survival. He started his advocacy for his Peace Day by writing letters to every state leader, their ambassadors, Nobel peace laureates, NGOs, faith based organizations, and other various organizations. Then in 1999 his dream of Peace One Day came true. In 1999 all the member states of the United Nations adopted the 21st of September as Peace Day. This day is recognized as an annual global ceasefire and non-violence day.

Jeremy Gilley’s Peace One Day is recognized every year, but unfortunately the day hasn’t gotten the full attention it deserves. Gilley was to make a statement with Kofi Annan on September 11, 2001 to advocate for his event, but because of the attack on the World Trade Center the statement never happened. However, the events on September 11, 2001 made Gilley work even harder. He was even more empowered and inspired to move forward with Peace One Day. This led to Gilley, along with actor Jude Law, to start work for peace in Afghanistan. Because of the pair advocating for Peace Day the Taliban sent him letter and said they would observe the day, and not engage in violence. The Taliban doing this led to 1.6 million people vaccinated for polio and violence on that day was down by 70%.

Due to this success Gilley has initiated a new plan for 2012, a Global Truce Day. This day will show younger generations that we can make a stop to violence with small acts of non-violence in our everyday lives. Gilley wants to utilize all kinds of resources from dance to social media and globally network with government, intergovernmental, and education leaders.

Gilley’s idea of utilizing education into his plan for 2012’s Global Truce Day helped persuade me to write this blog post about his event. Gilley wants to get young people to be the driving force to inspire individual action, so he has complied an educational resource for teachers to implement non-violence and other peace concepts into the classroom.

I can see this educational resource implemented in almost every formal grade level classroom. The students would need a little background on what conflict is, so because of this, starting at the fourth or fifth grade level would probably be best. However, this could fluctuate determined on how the students are influenced by conflict in their everyday lives. By implementing these resources in a classroom setting these children can practice non-violence in their schools, and also bring what they learn outside of the school setting and teach others.

Ways to use this resource:
Gilley includes many different types of lessons in his educational resource. This comprehensive resource includes 21 one-hour lesson plans for exploring issues of peace, nonviolence, and the protection of the environment, with extended projects for Peace Day on September 21st. I think this resource would be best integrated by first starting with showing Gilley’s documentary for one day of class, doing the lesson that corresponds to that, then moving on to the individual lessons maybe once a month until the actual Peace Day on the 21st. The students could help plan how they want their school to recognize and celebrate the event. In addition to using Gilley’s lesson plans I think it would be important for each teacher to incorporate their own discussion in their classrooms on non-violence, and other peace education areas. This would help each individual classroom relate to what types of conflict are going on in their societies.

The goal of each lesson, whether it be with Gilley’s lesson plans or the teacher’s, would be to spread knowledge about ways to bring about peace in small ways. These can be from their knowledge on non-violence to their knowledge of eco-resolution. Each lesson will more than likely encourage a student to go out and spread what they learned to another, and therefore spread the movement of peace.

“We should oppose violence in all situations and of course there’s no better way of bringing that about than through the power of education.”-Jeremy Gilley

Resources:
Peace One Day website: http://peaceoneday.org/
Peace One Day’s educational resources: http://peaceoneday.org/teachers/

Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MAGGIE MEENEHAN

One of my hero’s growing up was Dr. Jane Goodall.  Here  was a woman,  in the 1960’s, going alone into the jungles of Tanzania with a notebook and binoculars to study and save chimpanzees.    Though she met with extraordinary difficulties and  fierce adversaries,  she has managed to become a world renown authority on chimpanzees, conservation and the plight of endangered species world wide.  She is a  leading, passionate force for change  through her Jane Goodall Institute and now has “branched out” to schools and youth with her Roots and Shoots Foundation.

Dr. Jane Goodall, a UN Messenger of Peace, is the founder of the Roots and Shoots Program,  which aims to connect students to real life service learning projects of THEIR OWN choosing.   Dr. Jane began this project in 1991, when she felt that she was meeting so many children who lacked hope for the future.  She wanted to provide them with an opportunity to “think about the world’s problems and to roll up their sleeves and tackle them”.

The projects are curriculum based and encourage youth (elementary through college) to make positive changes in their own communities.  The projects have three components, which intertwine and depend upon one another.  These components are: the animal community, the human community and the environment.  The students are encouraged to identify problems and to take concrete actions.  In working together students gain a sense of empowerment that comes from helping others.

The service projects are looked upon as campaigns.   Students act as participants but also as leaders.  The web site gives examples of past campaigns but encourages students to create meaningful projects for their own communities.   The site has lesson plans to access,  Professional Development Opportunities, Career Explorations, Projects of the Month, Extension Activities,  and Family Activities.

The web site helps students and teachers plan, organize, coordinate and report/register their campaigns.  An important aspect of the projects is engaging the communities.  Dr. Jane believes that community centered conservation programs are critical to the survival of endangered species and conservation projects.

This is a fantastic, well designed and well supported,  global environmental humanitarian youth program that relies on the participants to “work for peace”.  Currently operating in  120 countries with 150,000 members, www.rootsandshoots.org  is an amazing example of a peaceable skill building and community building organization.  As we “Peacelearners” say…..check it out!

Let’s hear it for Luke Moore High Environmental Scientists!!

Luke Moore Academy, the premier alternative high school in the District of Columbia (and also where I work)  is joining DCPS in its efforts to go GREEN by starting a recycling program at the school. Students recently gave a presentation at a school wide assembly and community event stating that:

“We have started a recycling program at Luke C. Moore that will minimize the waste generation and will facilitate recycling of materials. This initiative is student-led, and will allow our students to be the leaders of this program. Our desire to become more environmentally friendly and help lead DCPS in the Healthy Schools Act, as well as develop our peers into lifelong recyclers.”

Each classroom has a recycling box (that’s a pic of my box) that the Environmental Team picks up to dump in the container in the parking lot.

Here at Luke C. Moore, we are also concerned about our use of energy, so we  use Compact Florescent Bulbs, or CFL Bulbs, which are significantly more environmentally friendly than regular light bulbs. Our CFL bulbs last TEN times as long as regular bulbs, up to 8000 hours each – compared to 750 hours of those regular bulbs. The team has determined that our school had 350 CFL bulbs that are used on a daily basis. They  then compared those numbers to schools with a similar amount of bulbs, who use regular light bulbs. Our numbers confirm that Luke Moore is saving the District $5,000 a month by using CFL bulbs. On the emissions side, Luke Moore is outputting 4000 pounds less of Carbon Dioxide per year than schools our size.

In the classroom and in the field, the team has done a lot to make sure that our school is helping out our community! Please join us in helping to make DC an environmentally friendly city by, recycling and changing your light bulbs to new CFL Bulbs! And we hope this inspires you to start a program at your school too. Peace

DCPS Goes Green: Peace through Sustainability

District of Columbia Public Schools is participating in the Be Water Wise DC project as part of its initiative to go GREEN.

“Be Water Wise DC was established by the nonprofit National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and includes lesson plans and activities such as measuring water flow rates and determining total water use in school buildings and grounds. The program is made possible through the support of companies such as lead sponsor HSBC Bank, as well as local agencies and nonprofit organizations committed to protecting the region’s natural resources.

Managing stormwater is a challenge for D.C. and the region. When it rains, water flows across streets, sidewalks and parking lots. Along the way, the rainwater picks up oil, trash and other contaminants, carrying them to streams and rivers including the Anacostia and Potomac and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.”

Check out this link for a detailed explanation of the project by Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_vVDhQfajvI

The video gives a very good summary and it’s impressive that they have so many schools participating and that it involves students of different ages.  I really like that students get  very hands-on with this project with the types of activities that they do in their schools and the local communities to help with water conservation in DC, and the concluding activity where they get to present their solutions to DC officials is definitely something students would look forward to.  This projects supports community building as it involves students and officials collaborating to create solutions for a problem that affects the DC area and also is a skill building activity because students are using critical thinking for problem solving, interpersonal skills by working together, and it’s an extension of the classroom space into the community.

For more information about Be Water Wise, please visit the National Environmental Education Foundation.

The Happy Planet Index

What a great presentation by Nic Marks of the Happy Planet Index.  There is so much learning to be gleaned from this work.

First, the presentation does a great job taking statistical rankings and measurements that have guided so many economic, social, and development initiatives for the past 70 years and challenging their most basic assumptions – that being, economic growth and levels of production are appropriate ways to measure a country’s well-being.  In so doing, this challenge forces humans to recognize what it is that we might actually measure that will allow us to set goals that actually lead to healthier, happier lives and a healthier, happier planet.

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