What we are reading in June

Green Matters, 06/04/20 – New Jersey Now Requires Climate Crisis Education for Grades K-12

Washington Post, 06/03/20 – I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet

NPR, 06/03/20 – The Winners Of The NPR Student Podcast Challenge

Our Children’s Trust, 06/15/20 – A message from Juliana v. United States youth plaintiff, Isaac #youthvgov

Grist, 06/04/20 – Why racial justice is climate justice

The New Yorker, 06/17/20 – How Public Opinion Changes for the Better

Boston Magazine, 06/15/20 – Marty Walsh Declared Racism a Public Health Issue. Here’s Why

Yes!, 06/15/2020 – There Is No Climate Justice Without Racial Justice

Hartman Group, 05/28/2020 – Sustainability in Everyday Life: Plastic and Packaging Waste

Grist, 06/16/20 – 5 board games for a world that’s falling apart

Climate Education Survey 2020 – first results

In an effort to promote more Climate Education in Newton schools, earlier this year we created a survey for teachers. We wanted  to find out what is already being taught in the district and what can be done to strengthen climate literacy and justice for our students. 

The survey was launched in March and due to Covid-19 and the closures of schools we didn’t promote it as much as we had originally planned. We hope to build on this effort once school commences in the Fall. For now, these are the initial results.

Given that many survey respondents expressed interest in training focused on climate education, we compiled a list of low-cost, flexible summer professional development options.

If you have not taken the survey yet, please take it here: CLIMATE EDUCATION SURVEY 

 

Climate Education Survey 2020

Survey data from 03/09/2020 to 04/03/2020
Number of respondents: 84

We found a few patterns in the answers:

  • Climate Change is not part of the curriculum and it’s hard to find time/resources to incorporate the topic and space/time to teach it.
  • Many are interested in learning more but lack time, knowledge, resources, ideas for activities, projects, etc.
  • Some teachers bring up the topic in passing or in a few lessons, ranging from statistics and environmental poetry to music and the Industrial Revolution.
  • It never occurred to teach it.

Sample comments:

  • Interested in ways to support the staff and facilitate trainings.
  • It is difficult to fit in anything more to the required curriculum.
  • I try to practice energy conservation and recycling habits with students in the classroom – concrete steps they can understand to contribute to efforts against climate change.
  • Climate change is a politically charged topic.
  • Kids are already cynical about being preached at.
  • Indirectly it is taught in terms of how we treat the environment, our spaces.
  • It doesn’t often apply unless a given project connects to it.  
  • I have not made it a priority to incorporate climate change into my lessons (though I am interested in finding ways to do this).
  • This topic is dear to me.
  • It’s a topic on many kids’ minds.  
  • Students bring it up for discussion depending on what is in the curriculum.
  • It relates to health of our people; health of our planet.
  • I don’t have a lot of knowledge on how to teach the topic, the current curriculums are pretty packed as it is.

Green Newton Statement on Black Lives Matter

Original post from Green Newton, June 8, 2020 – 

Green Newton stands with organizations here in Newton and across the country in reaffirming that Black Lives Matter. We are outraged, like so many others, by the recurrent murders of Black people by the police and vigilantes in our country — most recently, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

It is clear to us that institutionalized racism has been the underlying cause of the deaths of many people of color in our country and around the world.

Climate justice and racial justice are inextricably linked. The ravages of polluted water, land, and air, leading to illness, injury and early death are far greater in populations of people of color. Racially insensitive policies have long negatively impacted housing, education and medical care in Massachusetts.

We aspire to think globally and act locally as we work to better understand the pervasive, systemic nature of injustice within all of our institutions, including our schools and police departments. We strive to bring that understanding to our work to help heal the planet and make our community safe and welcoming for all.

Reduce & Reuse School Supplies

From the Bigelow PTO, June 13, 2020 – 

The Bigelow PTO invites you to think about school supplies in a sustainable way.  

The end of the year is a great opportunity to embrace our sustainable values with our children and show them how they can personally take climate action. Going together with the kids through their books, notes and school materials can be a valuable experience – in economic and environmental terms – and help reducing waste at the end of the school year by practicing the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

There’s a reason reduce & reuse come before recycle – not just because it sounds good, but it’s the order in which we should approach sustainability. Here are some tips to use with your child when cleaning out their school supplies:

  • Empty backpacks, pencil cases, binders, folders.
  • Clean everything (a swipe of rubbing alcohol can remove marker and make everything looks like new).
  • Repair or patch what you can. 
  • Organize pens, pencils, markers, scissors, calculators, etc.
  • Take out the used pages of notebooks and evaluate what can be reused in school or at home.

You will note that you can really reduce the purchase of new supplies because a lot can be reused next year. And we can all celebrate how much energy, water, resources and money we will have saved in our community! 

Check out more resources:

Students Can Take Action Against the Climate Crisis

Small habit changes can make a big difference. And students, as well as parents and educators, can take action and have a positive impact to reduce our carbon footprint.

Download and print flyer: Take Daily Action Against the Climate Crisis

What students can do

What can be done at home

Home heating and electricity account for a large portion of fossil fuel use. Talk to others at home about:

1. Signing up for 100% Renewable Electricity at Newton Power Choice, a really easy way to make a huge difference! Find your homers Eversource account# & call 866-968-8065 or visit www.masspowerchoice.com/newton

2. Signing up for no-cost home energy assessment and insulate/air seal your home. Call 781-305-3319 (select #2 & mention Green Newton) or go to hwe.click/green-newton

Download and print flyer: Take Daily Action Against the Climate Crisis

How to Make NNHS a Leader in Climate Justice

The Newton North High School Climate Advocacy Club is creating a student and teacher organization in order to advise the Principal on climate issues. The Climate Advisory Panel will be formed by a nomination process in Fall 2020 where students and teachers can be both self-nominated and nominated by others.

“Our school is lacking in both the educational side of the issue and physical side of the climate issue, most egregiously on the very important topic of climate justice. Given our position as a school that has traditionally led in academic and social emotional learning, it is our duty to be a leader and an example for ourselves and others in the values and practice of climate justice. ”

The panel’s goals, according to the document developed by the students, are to:

  • Educate peers on climate justice through developing, advising, and observing the revised sustainability curriculum with teachers; organizing Sustainability Day; and more.
  • Oversee and facilitate a strike absence policy.
  • Ensure that Newton North’s infrastructure is as sustainable as possible, specifically by working with the city of Newton and the sustainability director.
  • Incorporate climate justice into all facets of the school.

The panel will be a leader in connecting all the different groups in Newton that work on climate issues: teachers, activists, administrators, and more. If you are interested in being involved with the panel next year in any capacity, please fill out the interest form so we can keep in touch: https://bit.ly/2Byh9gC

Newton North Student Encourages Biking to School

What are the challenges students face when they bike to school? And how can the city improve their experience? These are a few questions that Dina Gorelik, Newton North High School Senior and President of the Newton North Bike Club, answered on May 21, 2020, during the webinar “Transportation after the Covid Crisis: Priorities for moving forward”. 

Watch the FULL program HERE

SEE DINA’S PRESENTATION HERE

When thinking about going back to school, it’s important to focus on sustainable healthy transportation, and that is what the three program speakers brought to the discussion. The program featured several good ideas on how to accelerate efforts to create transportation that is safe and supports our environmental goals to reduce air pollution.

  • Ann Lusk, PhD, Harvard Chan School of Public Health proposed real solutions  for communities to develop new transportation policies and processes by building pilot cycle tracks, testing the designs and counting riders. (See at: 3’49” –  38’38”)
  • Dina Gorelik made a compelling case for students biking to school and how the city can improve road safety (See at: 38’40” – 48’30”) – Her presentation is available here
  • Galen Mook, Executive Director of MassBike, Massachusetts’ statewide bicycle advocacy organization, talked about bicycling amenities in Covid-recovery, how to include schools and achieve safe to school goals (See at: 48’32” – 1 18’46”) 

The webinar was co-sponsored by The Newton Free Library, Green Newton, Bike Newton, and the League of Women Voters Newton.

Congratulations GREEN TEAM Prize Winners!

Underwood and Mason-Rice were the Newton winners of The Green Team Prizes! We are proud of the hard work and dedication of all students, educators, and parents who teamed up to improve recycling (and composting) in their  schools. 

From The Green Team

“Congratulations on all of the wonderful environmental activities you and your students completed this year! We have posted the full list of GREEN TEAM activities accomplished at schools across the state. Even with schools closing early this year, your work and results are amazing and inspiring! Check out the new photos in the GREEN TEAM Photo Gallery and stories in the GREEN TEAM Spotlight to see some of our amazing GREEN TEAM students in action!”

 

Teacher Professional Development on Climate Change – Summer 2020

As part of Green Newton School Connections efforts to advocate for climate change science in the Newton Public Schools K-12 curriculum, we would like to pass along a list of professional development resources for educators who want to deepen their knowledge in this area. 
 
While we realize many teachers have been feeling overwhelmed by the district’s initial foray into distance learning, we also recognize that many will engage in some kind of professional development experience over the summer.  The list of resources below represent low-cost, flexible options for teachers to earn PDPs or graduate credits while also expanding their toolbox of online and print resources for teaching about climate change.
 
Please share!
 
National Geographic Teaching Global Climate Change in Your Classroom
More information: nationalgeographic.org
Time: Online course that lasts through the summer (weekly June 24 – Aug 11); 45 hours
Cost: free for regular participants; $225 cost if you want 3 graduate credits
Content: covers a lot of the main issues with climate change (see syllabus attached to this email)
 
NAAEE – Mid-Atlantic Climate Change Education Conference 
More information: naee.org
Time: June 29-30, 12:30 – 4 p.m.
Cost: $20
Content: climate science, environmental justice, climate change in classroom, solutions
 
Stay-In-stitute for Climate Change Education
More information: climategen.org
Time: July 22–24, 2020, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm EDT
Cost: $150
Content: 20 Hours of Continuing Education. Climate change solutions are made in the classroom, at home, and within our communities. Let’s make the most out of our current situation by reimagining what education can be and how we can build opportunities for climate change solutions together!
 
Mass Audubon Earth and Human Activity
More information: massaudubon.org
Timing:  starts June 20 (6 session dates), 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Cost: $380 members, $440 non-members
Content: systems thinking, ecological restoration, climate resiliency, adaptation and mitigation, trophic interactions, and global climate trends
 
UNESCO Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development
More information: sustainabilityfrontiers.org
Timing: TBD
Cost: TBD
Content: they have created a guidebook for leading teacher professional development related to climate change education at the secondary level
 
Shelburne Farms Education for Sustainability
More information: shelburnefarms.org
Time:  July 13-Aug 7, online meetings Mondays & Thursdays
Cost: $200; $900 extra for 3 graduate credits
Content: deepen one’s education for sustainability teaching practices (intermediate-level course)
 
Green Schools Green Classroom Professional Certificate
More information: usgbc.org
Time: Starts any time and can be done over a period of 350 days. 2-hours online course + quiz.
Cost: $25 for 5 or more participants
Content: training for educators on how to have a greener physical environment within schools

The Green Team: Activities to teach students about air quality

Original post from The Green Team – 

This week’s topic is Air Pollution. THE GREEN TEAM has created or collected the following activities and resources to teach students about air quality and the ways that they can make an impact to reduce pollution: