America Recycles Day: Connecting with the World and Making a Difference

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This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to collaborate globally.  In the past, I’ve participated in amazing events such as Dot Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, and World Read Aloud Day.  Each of those events has connected our students to classrooms and authors around the globe, and I’ve found so many collaborative colleagues through these events.  It’s these very events that have pushed me to wonder what more we can do with our students.  I’ve been pondering how we can have collaborations that allow our students to make a difference in the world and share their ideas, their questions, their problems, and their solutions.

When our spectrum teacher, Natalie Hicks, came to me with a flyer about America Recycles Day, I knew that this day had potential to spark some action projects with our students and students around the globe.  I made a Google doc, crafted a blog post, and started inviting anyone and everyone to connect for America Recycles Day.  It didn’t take long for some of the very people I’ve connected with for other events to start posting their own schedules in the doc and making connections.  I want to thank Shawna Ford, Jenny Lussier, Cathy Potter, Donna MacDonald, Misti Sikes, Ly Phan, Kathy Schmidt, and Craig Seasholes for taking a risk with me and trying something new.  These people put their schedules out there and started making connections.

This week, my own students started making connections for America Recycles Day.  Each Skype or Google Hangout offered a little something different.

Ms. Clarke and Ms. Haley’s 3rd grade class connected with Kathy Schmidt and her 3rd graders in Gwinnett County, GA.  We learned about how her students are collecting items from home to put in the library’s tinker lab rather than throw them away.

Ms. Wright’s 2nd grade class connected with Cally Flickinger in South Burlington, Vermont.  We read the book Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter.  The story sparked a great conversation about how our trash can take over our world and how important it is to recycle or reuse instead of throw things away.

Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class connected with Donna MacDonald in South Burlington, Vermont.  Her students shared how they are using Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit to inspire a save the crayons campain.  Students are collecting crayons and sending them to be melted into new crayons.  Our students took time to offer some other ways that the crayons might be used such as making candles, melting crayons for artwork, fusing crayons together to make two-sided crayons, and investigating what crayons are made of so that they might discover even more things that crayons could make.

Ms. Li’s Kindergarten connected with Misti Sikes and her Kindergarten in Forsyth, Georgia.  They shared how they recycle at their school by separating white paper and color paper as well as other ways that recycling has to be prepared before it goes into the bin such as removing paper clips and staples.

Ms. Boyle’s Kindergarten connected with Holly Esterline & Katie LeFrancois’s grade 1 & 2 class in Bolton, Vermont.  We shared the book Compost Stew and heard about how their school is doing TerraCycling.  Even with our connection issues, we still learned a lot about something we don’t do much of at our school.

Ms. Tesler’s 4th grade students gathered a lunch bunch together to connect with Cathy Potter and her students in Falmouth, Maine.  The 1st graders at her school showed us a Google presentation with pictures of recycling and composting efforts in their school.  They have a whole process of how their scraps at lunch get put into a bucket to go to the composting bin.

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Finally, Ms. Spurgeon’s 3rd grade class connected with Karre Sloan’s 6th grade students in Nashville, Tennessee.  They shared the recycling program from their school and how their 3rd graders are in charge of recycling.  They also shared their ideas and tips for our own recycling problem at our school.

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In every connection, our students shared our own school problem.  We have recycling bins in every classroom, but we are finding that people are still throwing away recyclable things.  Even when we recycle, we have an additional problem.  People are parking in front of our recycling dumpster and the recycling truck can’t get to the recycling to empty it.  We posted these problems onto a Padlet.  We showed each connecting class the bins that we have in our classrooms and read the recycling instructions that can be found on the bag inside.  Sometimes our connecting classes gave us new ideas right on the spot or shared what their own school is doing that might support our problem.  Other classes added to our Padlet after we disconnected.  We also added to the Padlet.

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Our next step is to take this Padlet and share the ideas with our environmental committee which is chaired by Natalie Hicks.  We also have 2 enrichment clusters that we can share the Padlet with.  Our hope is that some of the ideas that came from so many perspectives will spark change within our school problem.  We want to connect back with some of the classes we met this week and share what we’ve done to improve our problem, and we want to see what they have done since our connection.

I loved that during our very last connection, students arrived in the library to put signs on our recycling bin that were sent by our recycling department.

 

Miraculous things came out of our connections:

  • We saw that we weren’t alone with our problem and that there were multiple things to test out to try to reach a solution.
  • We learned that recycling is very different from place to place.  We are so fortunate in Athens to have a state of the art recycling facility and single stream recycling.  Some communities have to put forth a lot of effort to recycle, and it is so easy for us.
  • We realized that there were so many things we could do with our “recycling” other than put it in the bin.  The concept of makerspaces is really causing a lot of us to think about turning trash into functional creations.
  • We saw that together we could come up with out-of-the-box ideas.  We often started with “put up posters about recycling”, but with the energy of collaboration, new ideas surface such as make smaller trash cans, create a recycling contest, write a catchy song about recycling to sing on morning announcements, and more.

My hope is that this week of connections really does spark change in our school and others.  At the very least, I think it made us more aware of what we are throwing away.  These types of connections have the potential to grow into large-scale collaborations around the globe.  The combination of powerful texts such as Here Comes the Garbage Barge and Eyes Wide Open along with the innovative ideas of students, teachers, and families fosters a healthy environment for long-lasting collaboration.  Our students are the future of our world, and when we allow them to unite with one another around authentic dilemmas in our world, we are equipping them with problem solving skills to keep our world a peaceful place.

 

 

Connected Librarians: Eyes Wide Open & America Recycles Day

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One of my goals this year in our library is to foster global thinking and global collaboration.  To connect with these types of opportunities for our students, I seek out connections on Twitter as well as in Google Plus communities such as GlobalTL and Connected Classrooms.  I also offer opportunities within the projects taking place in my own school for other people around the world to join in.

This summer, I became involved in a conversation with Joyce Valenza, Shannon Miller, and Paul Fleischman about how books could live beyond the closing of the cover.  What if a book inspired us to take action in the world?  What would those actions look like around the globe?  How could they be documented?  How could they be shared? What would it look like if the author engaged in conversations about the actions being inspired by the book?

This September, Paul Fleischman’s book Eyes Wide Open: Going Beyond the Environmental Headlines was published.  It’s a different kind of book because it doesn’t give our young people a prescriptive list of answers to solve the environmental problems of the world but instead to take an inquiry stance.  It inspires our young people to listen closely to the environmental stories being shared about our world and to uncover stories of their own.  It calls our young people to take action on those world problems and realize that even at a young age they can make a difference in our world.

Joyce Valenza wrote a great post about the book.  In it, she included Paul’s voice about his book.

About Eyes WIDE Open:

Paul Fleischman 300x225 Eyes Wide Open: A proof of concept for sustaining the conversation around booksWe’re living in an Ah-Ha moment. Take 250 years of human ingenuity. Add abundant fossil fuels. The result: a population and lifestyle never before seen. The downsides weren’t visible for centuries, but now they are. Suddenly everything needs rethinking–suburbs, cars, fast food, cheap prices. It’s a changed world.

Eyes Wide Open explains it. Not with isolated facts, but the principles driving attitudes and events, from vested interests to denial to big-country syndrome. Because money and human behavior are as important as molecules in the environment, science is joined with politics, history, and psychology to give altitude on this unprecedented turning point. It’s a time of bold advances and shameful retreats, apathy and stunning innovation.

What better time to have our eyes wide open?

An Eyes Wide Open Google Plus Community has been established to make connections for global collaboration around the book.  Paul Fleischman has also created a site to house headlines, projects, and conversations about the book.  He wants this to be more than a book that you read and close, but instead for it to be a book that inspires action in the world.

Also from Joyce’s blog, there’s a great list of ideas of how you might use Paul’s book with students.

What sort of reports might students contribute?
  • Take photos (and create a gallery) that document population rise or consumption levels or innovations being used to address these challenges.  Attempt to document how your eggs, milk, farmed fish, and meat are made.
  • Make a video describing a local citizen science project.  Document a plastic bag banning campaign, a local pollution issue, or your own attempt to go vegan for 30 days.
  • Interview someone in city government connected with water, transit, city planning, or emergency services.  Or a biologist, park ranger, or science teacher.  Or a religious leader whose church has taken a stand on the environment.  Or your state senator, state assembly representative, or an aide to your congressperson.  Or fellow students or neighbors to get a sense of how average citizens view the situation.  Google+ Hangouts might be a perfect venue for archiving these interviews!
  • Write a description of one of your area’s key issues and how it’s being dealt with.  Join with one or two others, each tackling one part of the project: research, interviewing, editing.  Would your local newspaper be interested in the result?
  • Do a survey of your city, finding out where your water comes from, how your electricity is made, where your trash goes.  Prepare to make many phone calls and to ask follow-up questions.  More fun with a friend.
  • Annotate local newspaper stories, adding commentary that lets us see how the global trends and mental habits described in the book are playing out locally.  Feel free to refine my thinking.
  • Remix media and create digital stories around an area of local interest.
  • Inspire a meme to invite continual, global reinterpretation around an environmental prompt
  • Submit a field report. Work prepared for school assignment is fine.  Take time to review and revise.  Once you’ve posted it on Google Docs, YouTube, or another platform that all can access, send a description to fieldreports@eyeswideopenupdates.com.  Include a bit about yourself, how you came to the topic, and a photo of yourself or something connected to the report.  If Paul finds it well done, he will add it to the roster, put a pin in the map, and maybe even give it a shout out in his blog.

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Connected librarians have a huge opportunity with this book and the many communities that are available to us.  We are the people within our buildings who work with every student, teacher, and family member within our school.  If we collaborate, then we connect our entire school communities with one another.

November 15 is America Recycles Day.  The week of November 10-14 would be a great week for us to begin to connect our voices with one another around an issue that really affects us globally.  Paul’s amazing book Eyes Wide Open could be a piece that we could use to spark conversations around the globe.  It could also be paired with a plethora of other picture books and informational texts on environmental action.  More than a conversation, our connections could push our young students to take action in our world, and those initial connections could lead to a continued connection between schools around the world in the name of environmental action.

Here’s what I hope to do:

  • Connect with schools throughout the week of November 10-14 via Skype or Google Hangouts
  • Read an environmental text together
  • Have each school identify and explain an environmental issue in our school or community.  For us, it will most likely be the amount of waste being thrown away in our classrooms.
  • Have each school exchange their issue and brainstorm possible next steps for one another.  Wouldn’t it be nice to hand your problem over to someone for a few minutes to see the problem through their eyes?  That perspective might be the very thing you need in order to take a next step in your problem.
  • Share our brainstorming with one another and document suggestions in a digital format such as a Google doc or Padlet.
  • Commit to reconnect at some point to share what actions we have taken, what has been successful, or what new problems have surfaced.

I invite you to connect with my students and also to post your own schedules and find your own connections via this Google Doc.

http://bit.ly/americarecycles14

Let’s do more than just connect our students for a day.  Let’s connect our students to work on an issue that has an impact on our world.  As part of Connected Educators Month, let’s start thinking of how we can connect our students in meaningful ways throughout the year and begin planning those connections now.

As you make connections, create action steps, and make an impact on your world, share it!

Eyes Wide Open hashtag: #ewopf

America Recycles hashtag: #americarecyclesday

GlobalTL hashtag: #globalTL

and don’t forget #tlchat

3rd Grade Environmental Projects with Flipgrid, Story Me, and Blackout Poetry

IMG_3405Third grade has been revisiting their environmental science standards at the end of this year.

S3L2. Students will recognize the effects of pollution and humans on the environment.
a. Explain the effects of pollution (such as littering) to the habitats of plants and
animals.
b. Identify ways to protect the environment.
• Conservation of resources
• Recycling of material

 

In the library, I pulled tons of environmental print books and made a pathfinder of ebooks, database resources, and websites around the environment.

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We’ve also had guest speakers from The Seed and Plate   What is The Seed and Plate?

We are an independent magazine in Athens, Ga. with a focus on food, farming and community in the Southeast. We hope to educate and inspire using our surroundings and the amazing people we’ve met along the way. We begin now as an online media publication, with an eye towards a print version in the future. Enjoy.

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The Seed and Plate has been fantastic because they have presented to the students several times on composting, community farming, and being friendly to our earth.  They have also supported students as they work on environmental projects and plan to give our students an outlet for publishing their work.

We’ve also hosted the Athens Clarke County Recycling Department to talk to the students about composting.  Students have been using compost bins and paying attention to the amount of food that is being thrown away in our cafeteria.  Since students are watching this closely, they are really starting to think about what we can do as a school to be friendly to our Earth.

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After our exploration of print and digital resources as well as our guest speakers, I sent all of the resources into classrooms for students to continue using. Students chose a focus area to learn more about.  Then, they came back to the library to learn about 3 options for final projects during the last week of school.

Option 1: Students could write a script with or without props and record it on our environmental Flipgrid.

Option 2: Students could use the Story Me app on the iPad to create a comic strip about their chosen topic.

Option 3: Students could create a blackout poem using text from a web resource or a copied page from an environmental book.

As I shared each option with students, I let them know what they would need to prepare in order to create their final product in one work session.  For Flipgrid, students would need their scripts and prop.  For Story Me, students would need drawings that they wanted to include in their comic and possible text that would go into speech bubbles written on post it notes.  For blackout poetry, students needed to print the page from the web or have teachers copy a page from a book to use.  Students spent 2 days in class preparing their materials.

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Today, students came to the library with their materials ready.  I gave one more quick overview of the projects and we designated areas for record, areas for coloring for blackout poetry, and areas for spreading out to take photographs for Story Me.  The classroom teacher, Natalie Hicks (spectrum teacher), folks from The Seed and Plate, and I all walked around and helped students think through the process of creating their product.

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Eventually, I stopped roaming around so that I could focus on collecting work from students.  Each Story Me comic was saved to the camera roll on the iPad and then downloaded to a folder on my computer. Each blackout poem was photographed and downloaded to a separate folder.  Flipgrids were automatically added to the online grid as students submitted.

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The students were truly prepared when they came to the library today. This allowed them to really focus on putting together their final product rather than focus on trying to create all of the content.  Students supported one another and adults were able to focus on students who needed extra support.

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Now our work is ready to show to the world.  We’re sharing it all with our new friends at The Seed and Plate to highlight on their website but we also have a gallery to share with you here.

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Flipgrid:

Flipgrid. Relax and discuss.

Blackout Poetry:

Story Me Comics: