At the end of October, Washington Green Schools rolled out their latest certification level to allow students to make environmental changes at home and certify their school. With most students learning at home right now, we wanted to find ways to still engage with students and bring the learning home.
Check out the full At-Home Certification Kit here.
Actions include: adjust the thermostat, turn off water during daily activities like washing hands and brushing teeth, reduce waste from going to the landfill, avoid meat for one day, switch to natural cleaners, bike or walk instead of drive, plant a raised garden bed or container garden.
Washington Green Schools is offering virtual check-ins in December 9 and January 20-12 to help you get started. Register HERE for a time that works for you.
We caught up with a few Green Team leaders to see what their plans are since they attended the October training. Check our their impressions and progress:
Camas High School
Ali Coker, forensic science teacher and Green Team advisor
My students are in the beginning stages of signing up for which task(s) they will do at home and conferring with family members about what is achievable and over what time-frame they want to monitor their change. They are also brainstorming about social media posts to get more CHS students outside of our team to participate.
Students overall were thankful for the opportunity to make a difference from home and to challenge their families, friends, and neighbors to challenge themselves as well. Students also really like the visual representation of their actions in the carbon calculator tool. We played around with some of the numbers and they thought it was really cool that a challenge related to decreasing energy usage by 2 degrees over 24 hours equates to tree growth, carbon savings, and monetary savings.
Gaiser Middle School
Dr. Charlene Shea, science teacher, NJHS advisor and Green Team leader
We started last week. The kids really like the flexibility to choose their individual focus project. They all plan to involve their family in what action they should do. They are excited about seeing what they can do as a family to help improve their eco-friendly practices. We have a target completion date of March 2021. Our first check in will be next week.
Lacamas Lake Elementary
Nancy Stoy, head custodian and Green Team leader
When I first looked at the projects I thought "how am I going to get everyone to agree on one" because some kids don't want to do gardening and some of them have gardens of their own. Some of the students really like to recycle while others are into saving energy, so I let them all choose what project they wanted to do. I think we have someone doing each project except riding your bike to school since there aren't any in-school classes right now. That one is hard anyway because our school doesn't have a bike route right now.
All of the students have to document their progress from start to finish. For example, if they are doing gardening they would start with the size of pot, what kind of seeds and what kind of soil did they get. Then when did they start the planting process, how many times a week did they water, how long did it take to start sprouting, etc. So each step of every project is documented from start to finish. Then they email me all their data and I will put it into the carbon calculator and then submit all the information to the Washington Green Schools.
The only problem so far that I have run into is since we are not meeting in-person is getting them motivated. I can totally understand that since everything they do right now is remote. They have until March 1st to have their projects completed, and if everyone doesn't get it done that is okay and I will just submit what we have done and I know we will still get our certification.
I did have a staff member do the no meat task and it is amazing to look at the carbon calculator facts on not having meat for just one meal.
I think the at-home certification is great for many reasons but the main one is they can all choose their own project that they feel comfortable or excited about doing instead of having to work on just one.
So my last thought is if you are having problems with doing a project because not everyone can agree on which one or they are not excited about the one that you picked, just let them pick the one they want to do even if it is all of them.
Hockinson Heights Elementary
Megan Miles, music teacher and Green Team co-leader
We have started initial introductions and I was hoping to get a bit more in this month, but had to steer our focus a little. We will dive into it more in January. Our kids have been teaching the HHES ways to be helpful around their home and in the community which is a nice introduction to the at-home certification process.
Pleasant Valley Primary
Angelene Shelton and Julie Horrocks, 2nd grade teachers and Green Team co-leaders
We haven't implemented it yet but for now, we are going to just use with our classes and not expand it to the rest of the school due to the logistics of our schedules. We are working on developing a series of lessons to be delivered after the first of the year. Our hope is to build background knowledge first and then roll out the certification activities in February. We plan on using our Seesaw platform to deliver the remote lessons so it is not only adding a layer, but also proving to be a bit of a challenge to create them. We are so used to using a trade book to create lessons around - it is fun to grab a book off of our bookshelf and do an interactive read aloud at the carpet with our 2nd graders. So far, the only activity we have done is for Julie and I to work behind the scenes. However, we believe these foundational lessons are crucial for student buy-in so we are plugging away.