The National Parks: “America’s Best Idea” for Authentic Learning by Milton Chen
Our National Parks have been called “America’s Best Idea.” Congress’s vision was to set aside our most significant places as public lands for all to enjoy. Nearly 100 years later, we are learning that these 401 sites, ranging from soul-stirring Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields to the grandeur of Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, are outdoor classrooms that can inspire and engage a generation of students in ways that no other experience, in or out of the classroom, can. Read more about how National Parks are engaging students in a guest blog by George Lucas Educational Foundation Senior Fellow Milton Chen.
(Photo Below: Ranger Rik Penn is
discussing the physiology of Dungeness crabs with 4th graders by the bay in the Golden Gate
National Recreation Area, San Francisco, CA)
Bridging the Disconnect Between Young People and the
Speaking of parks, U.S.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell outlined a major push to
inspire children and teenagers to get outdoors to experience nature. The interior secretary announced a $20
million public-private campaign to inspire ecological awareness through
education, employment and volunteer opportunities in parks and on
public lands. This is part of a nationwide effort to
improve access to national parks for students, minorities and urban youth. >>>
The Green Schools National Conference is March 26-29,
The 4th Annual Green Schools National Conference
is March 26-29 in Sacramento, California.
The Conference is the nation’s largest gathering of green, healthy and
sustainable K-12 school leaders and learners.
Some 1,500 teachers, parents, principals, superintendents, food service
directors, facilities managers, and other partners are expected to attend. Topics will include sustainability skills and knowledge for
the 21st century; stewardship and service learning; sustainable facilities
design and management; health and wellbeing; and creating strong partnerships
and networks. Early bird registration rates apply until Nov. 30. >>>
Technology Conference: Continuously Connected, Constantly Learning
The CoSN 2014
Annual Conference is designed for education leaders to better
understand their changing roles in creating the new face of learning. Part of
the conference, CoSNCamp will provide an informal way to
interact with conference peers, combining fixed “un-conference” sessions and
impromptu meet-ups shaped by participants. In this small group setting, attendees
will set the agenda based on what they’re most interested in to share and get advice
about high-level education technology issues.>>>
School Meals Day is March 6, 2014
2014 International School Meals Day is March 6th, 2014, also World Book
Day. Schools around the world
can celebrate the Day by promoting healthy eating and learning, using the theme
Food Stories. Schools and organizations
can connect across the world and share their stories about food through
established online education platforms that allow students and teachers to
experience learning and teaching beyond their classroom wall, including Connecting
Classrooms and Skype in the Classroom. >>>
Food Allergy Management Prevention
President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which will encourage schools to plan for severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Read more in this blog by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett. The National Association of State Boards of Education also released a discussion guide designed to help state boards explore anaphylaxis and epinephrine policies. Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released "Voluntary Guidelines for Management Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs," providing information and planning steps for parents, district administrators, school administrators and staff to develop or strengthen plans for food allergy management and prevention.
One Year Later -- Superstorm Sandy: Climate Chaos,
Kids, and Schools by Claire Barnett
It’s been a year
since Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast, and we’re still not only talking
about it, but also dealing with the aftermath. Unfortunately, children are again
being left out of the discussion. More than 170 schools were impacted by
the storm in the New York Metropolitan Area. Floodwaters, sewage and toxic chemicals
invaded school buildings and grounds, putting at risk the health of children,
teachers and staff. While adults have recourse to state and federal oversight
in the workplace, children do not. Read
more in this blog by Healthy Schools Network Executive
Director Claire Barnett.
Best Practices and Resources
Spotlight on a State: Minnesota Connects Students with Nature
students are increasingly disconnected from nature, the 2010 Minnesota
Legislature appropriated $300,000 from the Minnesota Environment and Natural
Resources Trust Fund to train and support the efforts of schools and teachers
to integrate environmental and outdoor education into the instruction of
academic standards. The Final Report on
the Minnesota Department of Education’s “Integrating Environmental and Outdoor
Education Project” is available to view here.
Spotlight on a
CoSN’s Green Computing certification program for
K-12 schools covers purchasing, energy use, disposal and using computers to
reduce waste of natural resources. CoSN's Energy Usage Calculator provides a quick approach for estimating
annual kilowatt hours and related costs for computer use by K-12 users and the
related data center infrastructure. Find out about other green computing
Funding Opportunity: Project Orange Thumb Grant
its inception, Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb has provided over $1.3 million to
140 community groups and helped to complete fourteen garden makeovers in the
U.S. and Canada. Schools and non-profits are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $5,000 by
the December 31st deadline. >>>
(Photo Left: Federal, state and local officials joined stakeholders,
administrators, parents, teachers and students during a tour of Bedwell
Elementary School’s garden during the New Jersey/ New York leg of the ‘Education
Built to Last’ Facilities Best Practices tour on August 13th.)
The Green Strides Webinar Series continues with the tools to reduce schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective
environmental education, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement. Upcoming sessions include:
Dec. 4, 2013, 3:00-4:00 p.m.: Waste in Place (KAB)
Dec. 10, 2013, 1:00-2:00 p.m.: ENERGY
STAR Portfolio Manager for Schools (EPA)
Dec. 11, 2013, 4:00-5:00 p.m.: Health and Wellness Benefits of Archery (DOI)
Dec. 11, 2013, 7:30-9:00 p.m.: ClimateChangeLIVE Education Resources (USFS)
Dec. 17, 2013, 3:00-4:00 p.m.: Renovation, Repair and Painting at Schools (EPA)
Jan. 29, 2014, 7:30-9:00 p.m.: Development for Climate Change Education (USFS)
Feb. 19, 2014, 7:30-9:00 p.m.: GreenWorks! Grants for ClimateChangeLIVE (USFS)
Also find more resources on the Green Strides Resources Page!
We’ve Been Using All These Resources. Where Do We Apply?
Wondering who to contact in your state to apply for nomination to the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools or District Sustainability Award? Find your state contact here. Deadlines vary by state, but, in all cases, are fast approaching!
Nostalgic for Summer?
As the cold settles in, are you looking to revisit this summer’s ten week, 11
state ‘Education Built to Last’ Facilities Best Practices Tour?
This year’s visits to some 40 ED-Green Ribbon Schools and District
Sustainability Awardees are chronicled on our blog. Follow ED
senior officials on their travels from New England to Alabama, Wisconsin to
California, New Jersey to the Pacific Northwest and learn about these honorees’
(Photo left: Visitors
tour the constructed wetland adjacent to Purdy Elementary School in Fort
Atkinson School District, Wisconsin in August.)
Check Out Green Strides: Environment, Health and
Facilities at ED
Come visit us! The U.S. Department of Education Green Strides portal provides
all school communities access to the tools that help them move toward the
Pillars of our U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award, including a full
list of STEM programs at ED.