Voiced through her own love of learning, Star Academy teacher Kelly Farrell explores topics of interest for educators who strive to inspire motivation, confidence and self-identity for students on their personal learning journeys.
Teaching Students About Environmental Awareness
These days, students are bombarded with environmental education. You can find links to environmental awareness in every aspect of the curriculum. Is that enough to make a change? I, for one, don’t believe so. We can inform students about as many environmental issues, but if we want them to internalize these lessons, I believe we need to teach them “awareness”. Through awareness comes a desire to learn more and to make a difference.
This Earth Day, instead of the same activities like planting a tree, reading “The Lorax”, and writing out pledges to change the earth, do something different: Teach what it means to be aware. Learning about the issues plaguing our Earth has to be meaningful and individual. It can start on Earth Day, but these lessons can be easily integrated into everyday teaching and learning to build habits in our children that will last their lifetime.
Below are some ideas to get you started raising awareness through teaching awareness. I have also included a list of great teacher resource sites with environmental lessons.
- Model Awareness Everyday—This is probably the most important way to teach children to be aware since teachers and parents are the primary role models for children’s behaviour patterns. If we can demonstrate daily ways that we are aware of how our actions affect the environment, it is inevitable that children will pick up on it and try to imitate.
- Calculate your Carbon Footprint—As a class, take time to regularly to calculate your carbon footprint. Brainstorm ways to reduce each family’s foot print, or the school’s footprint and track your progress throughout the school year.
- Encourage Healthy Eating Habits—Teach students about sustainable habits and eating low on the food chain (less meat and fish, more plants). Model healthy eating choices and eating a balance of the different food groups. Encourage garbage-less lunches and reusable containers.
- Eco-Friendly Travel Options—Encourage physical activity and walking or biking instead of driving when possible. Take public transit for school outings or field trips to help teach students how to safely and efficiently choose transit as an option when they make their own choices for travel. When taking a school bus for field trips, include an additional fee to offset the carbon emissions. Inform students and families about the way that this helps make energy options more sustainable.
Resources and Lesson Ideas for Teaching Environmental Issues:
- National Geographic’s Fast Facts on Global Warming
- David Suzuki Foundation website with information on climate change and teaching resources
- Earth Day Canada resources for schools and communities
- EcoKids website with great ways to involve kids online as well as great teacher resources
- www.earthday.org – Global site for Earth Day initiatives and fabulous teaching resources
- Canadian Geographic & Shell Canada Energy Diet site – information and activities for schools, including one of the better carbon footprint calculators for kids.
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Do you incorporate environmental awareness lessons in your classroom? What tips do you have for other educators on teaching environmental awareness in their classrooms? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.