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.

UNOY Peacebuilders

As a Global Affairs major, I was really interested in finding a blog topic that had a global approach and perspective to peace education. Through searching on the web, I found this amazing organization called UNOY (The United Network of Young Peacebuilders). UNOY (prounounced  ‘you know why’) is a global network of young people and youth organisations committed to establishing peaceful societies.  They have been around since 1989 and are based in the Netherlands. they consist of 49 member organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

UNOY’s mission is ” to link up young people’s initiatives for peace in a global network of young peacebuilders, to help empower their capacities and to help increase the effectiveness of their actions” They achieve this goal by implementing a wide range of activities in each of their main areas: advocacy and campaigning, capacity building and gender. UNOY believes that young people are an essential part of peacebuilding because:

  • Young people are more open to change
  • Young people are future-oriented
  • Young people are idealistic and innovative
  • Young people are courageous
  • Young people are knowledgeable about their peers’ realities (http://www.unoy.org/unoy/who-we-are/our-vision/)

Some projects that UNOY has implemented in 2012 include, the Educating for Peace seminar that brings together members from all over the world, the Peace of Mind educational program for students, and training courses on peace building. Members even traveled to Colombia, Argentina, and Nepal where they were able to teach workshops on issues such as human rights, democracy and gender to youth there!

This organization caters to a wide range of peace educators and students alike. UNOY has created excellent resources that can be incorporated into a classroom or community setting for youth. The beauty of UNOY is that the wide array of projects it creates can be applied in a global AND local context. Most importantly, UNOY gives  young people the opportunity to get involved!!! I would especially recommend checking out their volunteer programs if you’re interested in working on an international level 😉 Through its broad scope of activities and projects, UNOY teaches youth the necessary skills and tools needed to become peacemakers in their own communities.

A clip describing one of UNOY’s projects in collaboration with other international youth organizations:

Resources:

UNOY home page http://www.unoy.org/unoy/

 

 

One World Youth Project

I stumbled on the One World Youth Project website while looking online for information for another assignment. However, I was very happy I did after reading more about the project.

One World Youth Project (OWYP) was founded in 2004 by then 18 year-old Jess Rimington as a link between her high school in Massachusetts, USA and a school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The project seeks to effectively respond to global change. Due to global change there is unprecedented migration and the world is experiencing a digital revolution. However, schools around the globe are not preparing youth for the interconnected world. OWYP feels that those prepared to operate within this reality will see this interconnection as an opportunity and those not prepared will see this changing landscape as a threat.

To prevent this threat, One World Youth Project links schools around the world to build mutual respect and understanding among students and provide them with global life skills needed for success in the interconnected 21st century. This is done by the organization establishing a link between education systems. With each partner university, OWYP establishes a service-learning program-a One World Hub-on their campus for the benefit of their students as well as the surrounding secondary school system. OWYP provides a series of trainings that prepare university students as facilitators of cultural exchange between local secondary school classrooms and other OWYP classrooms abroad. After this training, the university students lead a Global Citizenship curriculum in local secondary schools, preparing the younger generation for the interconnected 21st century.

The fact that the OWYP is tailored for college students to help 6th through 12th grade secondary school students is perfect. These secondary students will feel more at ease with the college students, and the college students also get a chance to learn. For a year in a formal education setting the secondary school students learn through deep reflection on intercultural communication, as well as local and global leadership.

Ways to use this resource:
The teacher is ultimately allowing a college student to come in once a week and facilitate this communication for a year (2 semesters). The secondary school students connect with other classrooms abroad through video, voice, letters and the Internet. While students move through the facilitated program once a week in their classroom, their partner peers in the abroad classroom do the same. This connection allows for deep reflection on and constant collaborative investigation of intercultural communication.

The first semesters curriculum focuses on giving students the tools to understand their own cultures and begin the process of exchanging and communicating across cultures. From there the lessons move to issues of global connections and development by introducing the ways in which goods and systems flow around the world and to the concept of the UN and the Millennium Development Goals. Using these tools, students will identify issues in their communities and create plans to address these issues.

As the students move into the second semester with OWYP, students will continue to learn about ways to communicate with people in other cultures by analyzing different forms and systems of communication. Then they will be prepared to participate in collaborative dialogues to create change by identifying key community players and exploring ways to engage them in conversations around community issues. As students move through the program, these plans will turn into actionable service learning projects.

I think it would also be beneficial if the college students that come to facilitate also have one on one time with the students too. They could interact in dialogue or the college student could facilitate experiential learning activities so that the secondary students are also learning from the older college student too.

If a teacher wanted to set up a One World hub at a University near their school, or to find out if one is already established, they could email info@oneworldyouthproject.org.

The end goal of OWYP is to create a just world built through the actions of empowered, discerning and empathetic generations of global citizens. OWYP hopes to accomplish this by facilitating intercultural communication between students of different backgrounds. This type of peace project supports one of the seven pillars of peace education, community building. This pillar focuses on finding things that unite and bind us together as a group, while at the same time respecting and celebrating our differences. Allowing students from different backgrounds to communicate across borders will create a new understanding of what makes them both different and similar. Students that engage in the program will become well-rounded citizens that are able to operate in a diverse world.

Positive Curiosity Through Creative Sharing

http://www.ktki.org/news.html

I firmly believe that for peace to be sustainable it has to start with younger generations and on their terms.  “Kids to Kids International” (KTKI) advocates just that. This very special organization believes in creating a global generation of students who are connected to one another through peace and friendship by creating their own picture books. These books are purely created from the imagination of American students, which are then sent to countries where kids live in refugee camps or don’t have access to books for fun. The non-profit organization started in 1996, by author Pat Kibbe while speaking at a school came across an article featuring a young Cambodian refugee holding his most prized position- a post card of the Empire State Building. She incorporated the story of the young child into her speech, the kids where so excited by this that they wanted to write to him. Realizing that he did not speak English one child suggested that they draw pictures. Pat Kibbe was so delighted by their interest that she was determined for the pictures to be given to the young boy. When she arrived at the refugee camp she realized how powerful the idea could be and the organization was created. KTKI is now connecting with kids from over 50 countries and that number is sure to climb.

This project can be incorporated into any grade level curriculum. Mainly the books are children’s books, stories about friendship, animals, and imaginary places. Not only do these books allow for students to be artistically creative, but teachers can also turn it into a history or social studies lesson. The historical aspect comes from researching the country and the people the books will be going to. Students can learn about geographic locations and cultures. Writing skills can be improved by having students brainstorm, write a draft, and a final idea. KTKI, really believes that by engaging the students with meaningful connections it makes learning about the country much more important and builds a lasting positive impression of people from another part of the world.  The books build trusting friendships between students who will probably never meet each other through sharing. American students get a sense of helping people and learning, while the kids who get to enjoy the books will feel cared about and then also become intrigued to learn about where the books came from. This process creates a mutually shared positive curiosity. With the growing interest in the NGO additional aspects have been created and added to the outgoing packages. School supplies and disposable cameras are added so pictures can be taken of the students who are enjoying the books and then sent back to the American students to enjoy and get a real lasting image of those they have impacted. Maps and pictures of the United States are also included so the kids can emotionally connect with where the books came from. Some of these packages are sent to kids who have never had a book or even seen one.  If the students who are creating the picture books truly grasp that it will forever internalize a connection for them to the world by helping them understand that they can make a difference and do so in a peaceful, positive, and an actual effective way. Even if the gesture is just drawing a picture to share!

“Kids to Kids International” helps students develop a global understanding of their role in the world.  It also incorporates some very important peace pedagogies like international and multicultural education. Depending on the material covered about the country and the grade levels taught human rights and conflict resolution could also be incorporated.  This project allows students to use many of their multiple intelligences from visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Most importantly it gets them excited about helping, connecting, and sharing with the world around them. Lasting peace is created by having students create something that want to share with other kids!

Social Media for the 21st Century Non-profit

America loves social media, and it’s not just us! The entire world has been connected and arguably addicted to social media networks. Through sites like Facebook and Myspace we’ve created another world in which we are able to identify with one another. No surprise there. What is surprising is the only recent emergence of non-profits on the social media scene. Sure, every non-profit has a webpage. It’s highly likely that most non-profits are now connected to their members through Facebook and even Twitter. Some non-profits have even expanded into developing their Tumblr and/or their StumbleUpon pages; potentially even posting things on Pinterest.

This week, the entire world was taken captive by a now, very well known video called Kony 2012 (which, I will post below) put together by a nonprofit called Invisible Children.

As a non-profit, you might be thinking- so what?

Actually, this is an outstanding example of what you can accomplish with something as simple as connecting all of your social media sites simultaneously. This video, DESPITE the fact that it is an incredible thirty minutes long; grabbed the attention span of an entire nation, and then world. 76 MILLION people have now viewed this video. Half of these viewers probably had no idea who Joesph Kony and/or the LRA was. Now, the 76 million viewers are both educated and passionate about a cause they knew nothing about. Within 24 hours the video went viral on Youtube and facebook while simultaneously becoming a popular world twitter trend… Even more importantly, how many people have donated or become involved in a cause they knew nothing about until they saw it on their facebook page?

You may not agree with this video and you may not care about the message that Invisible Children is trying to spread; but ask yourself- how can my non-profit utilize social media and videos to educate millions of people around the world? It’s a fantastic opportunity to challenge and excite those who work with you in your non-profit while also revitalizing your members’ interests in your cause. The best part about these videos is that they have the potential to unify millions of people for one cause; and so do you.

I found a great resource for non-profit education on social media and video feeds called See3 which introduces ‘Media with a Message’ videos. This website also includes free webinars and resources to help you get started on your journey in attracting members and (potentially) donors. I really love this website, they use videos to teach their audience about ways to use video in order to connect with their donors and members (talk about in your literal education…).

Never fear if you are not a non-profit; this resource can also be incorporated into a lesson plan for high school and college students. Challenge your classes to create educational videos about a subject that they are passionate about and find a way to spread them through social networks to educate people, instead of writing a typical paper about the same subject in which only you (their teacher) sees it. It could be a great way to see creativity come alive, and also find out about your student’s interests in a way that doesn’t bore you (hopefully…) 😉

I hope you find this as challenging, motivating, and as exciting as I do! Good Luck!

Visual Peacemakers

Image

Connecting with people across lines of difference is a fundamental goal in conflict resolution and this process has, in some ways, become more accessible due to the presence of the internet and social media tools.  Through a course I am taking focusing on Art as a means of social change, I came across the online resource visualpeacemaker.org.  This site is essentially a host for the collaborative project coordinated by the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers.  Working with such partners as Peace Catalyst International, the Guild of visual artist and photographers challenge stereotypes and prejudices by capturing the beauty of diversity.

The International Guild of Visual Peacemakers resource consists of collections of photographs, documentaries, and photo blogs that work to promote the message of the Guild as described in their manifesto.  By capturing the human elements of cultures, the project seeks to build peace.

Throughout history people have fallen into the trap of making enemies with, demonizing, stereotyping, and fighting the “other.” There has been a flood of conflict based on ethnic, cultural, and religious identity in the post-cold war era that has ended the lives of millions, destroyed economies, and torn apart families.

Much of this has been fueled by the growing availability of technology, especially photography and videography. While the written word carries an expectation for honesty, there is a void regarding the ethics of images due to their subjective nature. This void has opened the door for photographers to exploit people’s desire to confirm their thoughts about the “other”—mobilizing innumerable people towards slander, violence, and other fear-based responses.

Since 9/11, conflicts between Muslim cultures and western cultures have been growing in intensity. There are deep misunderstandings and stereotypes that are producing widespread fear and anger.

The International Guild of Visual Peacemakers (IGVP) was created to build bridges of peace across ethnic, cultural, and religious lines through visual communication that is both accountable to an ethical standard and created by those who authentically care about people.

This resource can be used in both the formal and informal learning space due to its accessibility and the intelligible nature of the content.  Visually the images are powerful and the stories that the pictures tell are worth sharing with students and learners of all ages.  This resource can incite discussions about toleration, diversity, and the beauty and dignity of human life which is aptly illustrated in this project.  This approach to facilitating understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures while also educating the international audience about global issues is creative response to the political, social, and religious conflicts that are prolific in our contemporary landscape.

Using this resources students will not only be exposed to global conflict as humanized by the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers, but will also gain insight into the varied approaches experts in the field of Conflict Analysis and Resolution are tackling and implementing.

World Peace… and other 4th grade achievements

As an adult, I’ve been involved with an inter-agency simulation, here in the Washington, DC area sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace called Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise (SENSE). SENSE has been used in peace talks across the world and is a great resource and training tool for governmental leaders and public servants who wish to understand the complexities of war and building sustainable peace in a conflict, or post-conflict country.

This all sounds very boring (yawn), right? To be honest, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my (adult) life. Over a three day period, these often well-known and extremely intelligent adults are brought back to their basics: scheming, negotiating, collaborating and finding creative solutions to current world issues. We’ve done simulations for inter-agency adults who are ruthless, to Conflict Analysis and Peace Operation students who are actually too collaborative and sometimes unrealistic; but I’ve always wondered, how would children react?

Little did I know, an educator named John Hunter has been playing this simulation with his 4th grade classes for more than 25 years and loving every surprising and challenging moment along the way. Here he is speaking about his experiences on Ted Talks in 2011:

What I find most amazing about the idea of holding ‘World Peace Games’ for classrooms of children is that they have the opportunity to face struggles, frustrations, and conflict with peers head on while finding creative solutions through negotiation, collaboration, effective communication, and most importantly- without violence. These are traits I wish I had learned at any level before college, which is sadly when and where I’ve learned most of them. Additionally, it gives children the idea that they are intelligent, realistic, and smart individuals who can find the solution to relevant and world-wide issues; and hopefully, the confidence to solve any other problems that evolve in their day-to-day life. Plus, it’s fun!

This is probably why John Hunter was named in Time Magazine as one of the 12 Education Activists of 2012, and was also featured in a documentary based around his experiences with 4th graders and the World Peace Games; which you can see the trailer.

Personally, I think this model is highly applicable at any level of school. John Hunter’s website World Peace Game features details on what the game is and how to play it although unfortunately, it appears as though they don’t give exact instructions; only the ability to contact John Hunter and have him teach your class the game. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t implement your own similar simulation with the same basic formula: 5 countries, specific resources, a driving issue, and a board in which they can actively witness the consequences or benefits of their actions…

For teachers, administrators, and school systems who are unsure, can watch the movie and judge for themselves; or better yet, show it to their students and gauge their interest in playing the game themselves…