Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teaching Green

Workbook pages, dittos, xerox copies...paper, paper, paper!

Anyone who has a child in school knows about the deluge of paper sent home EVERY DAY. Honestly, much of it is needless. I'm not just saying that as the parent recipient of all this stuff, but as a teacher myself.

From the teacher's standpoint, we have all this great information to share. We don't want our students to miss a bit of it! I could honestly make a textbook sized handout of all the good info I find for my students. No one wants to shortchange education for green, so what do we do?

I teach at a high school and I try to reduce all the paper by emailing my students their homework as attachments. They type their answers on the homework and send it back to me- no paper! I also have a website with all the documents they can download and save. Added bonus for the teacher: your bag previously full of papers to grade is remarkably lighter and easier to carry (those of you who teach know about those heavy end-of-quarter bags full of papers!)

I would love it if my son's school would send the PTA letter by email, and post other information on their website. Hopefully, with continued nudging, this will be the case eventually. But in the meantime, we empty our backpacks right over the recycling bin.


Karen said...

My school is trying this year to be more green, but it is a struggle. There are so many restrictions on who can post on the web page and what can be posted to the web page that it is really not used in that way at all. I wish we could use the web more for info sharing.

Kathleen McDade said...

Sounds great. My district started using Google Apps this year, and our district tech guy is trying to encourage teachers to use it for instruction. For instance, teachers could create Google Forms for homework assignments, or have students collaborate on projects in Google Docs.

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Keri said...

Hi, I think this is the first time I've commented here. =) I wanted to share my experiences going "green" at work. I teach American Sign Language and Deaf Culture at the University of Vermont so that means there's a lot of handouts involved. Now that I've been using BlackBoard, it has really cut down on paper usage probably 80%!

All supplemental readings are posted on BlackBoard and lab assignments (viewing a video and answering questions) are on BlackBoard, the latter automatically graded so it saves me time! Students participate on the Discussion Board instead of giving me papers about the readings. I used to get emails from students with their papers but it was time-consuming to weed through them. BlackBoard categorizes your classes and keeps everything together. Assignments are posted within that class that the student is taking.

At the end of the semester, it can be a headache to go through the grading process...not so if you use BlackBoard! If you set up the columns beforehand, it will automatically calculate grades for you! Even better, all the settings and information for that class can be transferred over to the new class in the next semester.

If you are able to convince your administration to use BlackBoard, it will be very beneficial for everyone! =D

Anonymous said...

Harmful chemicals are everywhere - especially in the cleaning products used in schools. The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice is hosting a national day of action Friday, February 13 2009 to raise awareness of the importance of green cleaning in schools. Check out the site to learn more on how to join the campaign. There are also different ways to get schools involved through the Green Flag Schools Program.

Anonymous said...

My kids are only in preschool once a week, but even they come home with at least one flyer. I can only imagine what's to come... Have you every repurposed the paper into scratch pads. Assuming they are one sided, you can cut into squares and put a couple of staple in the top for a little by-the-phone notepad. I just started a blog for repurposing everyday items in the home...think I will do a post on this one! You can check it out at

Jerry said...

That is brilliant!! I can't believe people haven't thought of it sooner. We have to live sustainably. It's insurance for the future of our earth. You are teaching your students more than the subject you're assigned to teach. Knowledge leads to action.

Ciara Marie said...

Schools are not only hurting the environment through their overuse of paper, but also by the cleaning products they use. The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice has launched a campaign called the Green Flag Schools program to so students, parents, teachers, and administrators can work together in order to locate the school's existing policies on environmental issues and find ways to solve them. CHEJ is holding a Valentine's National Day of Action of February 13 to raise awareness of these issues. Please join the campaign! You can visit the site to learn more and download a free action toolkit!