conservation


Using the Community to Improve Test Scores and Learning
by Alan Haskvitz
National Teachers Hall of Fame
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

haskvitz111

The St. Lawrence River was close to the school and so I walked the students in my special needs class to its banks. Most of the students had seen it everyday of their lives, but had never seen it. I took them close to the shoreline and had them look at the small fish and close their eyes to listen to rush of the water. I threw a piece of driftwood into the water. A student with a watch stood 100 meters downstream and called out the length of time it took to travel that distance. I threw another piece this time further out and they did the same. When we returned I showed them how to measure the speed of the river and noted that this is what sailors did in olden times to check their speed. The students found the water moved away from the shore. I asked them to draw the feeling the sound of the river gave them. After the spring thaw, the students returned to the river and instead of the fish there was trash and they didn’t like it.

In these two field trips a lifetime of environmental learning took place. Upset at what they had seen they turned to the community, created posters to display in stories, took photos, and wrote letters. The people responded and the primary goal of all learning was felt by all as the students were empowered to use what they had learned to make changes in society.

So too, my life as a teacher with a hidden agenda began. Today, nearly 40 years later I am now teaching social studies at a middle school and my agenda is still being followed, but no longer hidden thanks to the many teachers and organizations who have found that the community and the students need not be mutually exclusive.

My students have been involved in countless other activities to educate and improve the conservation of resources. Many times my students have been ahead of their times. In 1988 my students wrote a letter to the United Nations asking for a Day of Atmosphere Awareness. The return letter from Arthur Zegelbone promised that the United Nations was aware of the “greenhouse effect” and that there was going to be a World Environment Day on June 5th in Brussels. As we know, little was done since that time, but the students saw the problem and took action. A few years later they wrote and passed legislation that required all state funded building in California to use xeriscape landscaping to conserve water. The bill had overwhelming support. But that wasn’t enough.
After the first encounter with the United Nations they put together an entry that Target selected as one of the best environmental programs in the nation and they traveled to New York to contact members about their concerns. Target and the local water district paid for the trip and expenses.

The students noted the large amount of wasted paper at the school and came up with a method of self-sorting the trash. Not satisfied, they started a conservation club that recycles most everything at the school from printing cartridges to eye glasses. They hold community outreach events to educate adults and students from other schools as well. They started a Monarch butterfly garden to provide a safe home for these migrating butterflies as well as a Feed the Homeless garden that was fertilized using compost from a bin they had won at a country sponsored environmental conference. The recycle bins came from the city.

Nothing the struggle of the grey wolf, they raised funds to sponsor a young pup at Wolf Mountain Sanctuary. Noting that toilets were one of the main uses of water in a household they worked with the local water district to provide water displacement kits for city residents with the goal of saving six million gallons of water a year. To help residents understand the beauty of using landscaping that didn’t require a lot of water they designed and maintain a demonstration garden that shows these plants to residents.

Of course, some of their ideas met dead-ends because those in charge didn’t understand the value of their ideas. Supported by many water districts in the Western United States, they promoted the idea to taking a large trailer containing environment friendly plants to display at malls and major events. In that way, the garden would come to the people. The idea lost the competition, but the students learned a lesson about the difficulty of getting others to see the need to conserve.

Noting that need they decided to see how such changes were made. They decided to find out what was required for citizens to vote and were shocked to discover that they couldn’t understand the voting poll rules. They got a copy of the rules, rewrote them. and asked the Country Registrar of Voters to look at them. The Registrar accepted them and the changes were implemented making it easier for people to vote. They did the same with the state voter registration forms. Millions of California voters were impacted by their efforts.

They worked with the local police department to do safety belt checks and earn the community honors from the National Highway Safety Association. The police also taught the students how to fingerprint and they did this for all incoming students.

Working with local leaders they created a website that enabled communities to compare themselves to other communities in several key areas such as library books, business license fees, medical care facilities, and park space among others. It was judged to be of such value that the students were sent to Italy to represent the United States in international competition.

The students worked with the city landscape staff and came up with a plan which was presented at a City Council meeting. The plan was designed to save the city several million dollars in just a few years.

Making current events more meaningful, the students devolved and printed a newsletter that contained the highlights of every day’s events and faxed it to the local maternity wards where the nurses duplicated it and gave it the mothers of those children born on that day.

There is much more, but the most vital thing I have learned is that having students apply their learning to real world concerns make the lesson more meaningful for them and thus improves society. Perhaps most telling is that despite doing all these projects my student’s test scores have gone up dramatically. My first year at the school the state average for social studies was in the 22nd percentile. Getting the students involved in the next three years helped drive the score to the 94th percentile. Today, 25 years later, the state has a new test but the results are the same. Teaching at a school with seven subcategories; four minorities, ESL, low income, and special education, my students have consistently been at the top of the state test results even compared with gifted magnet schools. Indeed, of my 170 students, nearly 99 percent finished at the top of the State’s yearly standardized test. In other words, the community can provide the motivation to help improve test scores.

The point is that teaching students about the environment by using the community is not mutually exclusive from teaching them subject matter. Just as my special education students did 40 years ago, using the environment as a foundation for a learning lesson encourages them to see the importance of what they are studying and self-motivates them. The results are a win-win-win for the students, society, and test scores.

Editor’s Note: Al’s students also helped Joy Hakim write one of her The Story of Us books. And the student’s Powerpoints on the Westward Movement were accepted by the California Oregon Trail Association to be shared with others as well as the DMV. They also worked to put the Parklands Initiate on the California ballot, created a website on The History of Government that a professor at Harvard had high praise for and created a website that helps others with the State social studies standards. They also created story tapes for the Junior Blind. Finally, there interest in cars resulted in their findings on driving more efficiently being posted on the DMV site and they published their own textbooks. He was selected one of the 100 most influential educators in the world and earned the coveted Cherry International Teaching Award, the only classroom teacher so honored. His students have earned trips to Sea World, Disneyland, CNN, Busch Gardens, Washington DC, New York, the United Nations, and Rome where they represented the USA in technology competition.

One of the Nation’s Most  Energy Efficient Homes

 

by  The Car Family

 

Tucked into a cul de sac in Alta Loma is a Spanish style, one story family home that is unique and yet common. For the secret of this 2400 square foot home is that despite its tract house appearance the owners have taken inexpensive steps to make it one of the most energy efficient homes in Southern California with a gas bill that seldom goes above $300 a year and an electric bill that is just a tad over $400 a year and that includes charging the Prius Plug-In nightly.

HOUSE11

 

 

Let’s start with the facts. First, the house is essentially all electric except for the gas dryer, water heater, and furnace. The back of the house has a southern exposure and is largely glass with a fairly large roof overhang. There is an oversized three car garage attached and the roof has three distinct pitches providing the interior with very high ceilings. Into this mix add a normal sized family, two large dogs, and the usual array of appliances and you have a very typical ranch style residence.

 

 

Now comes the interesting part the average gas bill is about ten dollars a month. On extremely cold months this could rise to $35, but the dual pane windows let in an abundance of southern sunlight that heats the tile floor and helps keep the home comfortable long into the night. The addition of the newer windows and doors greatly helps in keeping energy costs down. Southern California Gas and Edison both offer rebates in some cases. During the warmer summer months the roof overhang keeps the sun from shinning into the house. Helping keep the stucco exterior cool is the placement of large bushes on the southside of the house. The large attic acts to “store” the rising heat from the living areas and together make running the air conditioner a rare event. Indeed, last year it was only on twice and this year three times.

 

HOUSE9a

 

 

The water bill was reduced by the use of drought tolerant plants which require little maintenance, very little care, and no fertilizer. A drip system was installed, but even in hot weather watering twice a week is all that is needed. A grant to remove the grass front yard was given by the area water agency. Although some people hire professional landscapers, the yard was designed by the homeowner to reflect their desire to have a colorful, happy yard. Citrus trees on the property and a garden add to the water cost, but the drought tolerant landscaping has partially offset this and resulted in substantial savings. In addition, the home has low water use toilets and washing machine. The showers have restrictive flow features and the dish washer is never started unless it is full.

 

 

The gas bill was dramatically reduced with the tankless water heater and a two-stage furnace. Helping reduce the need for heating are ceiling fans that bring down the warmer air from the high ceiling in the house. Changing the directions of the fans in summer also helps to increase evaporation and keeps the family cooler. Energy efficient fans only cost about three tenths of one cent per hour to operate.

 

 

Electricity rates were also kept low by taking advantage of Southern California Edison’s savings plans and the installation of an upgraded SEER air-conditioner. Energy Star appliances, the use of outlet strips that can be shut off ending parasitic losses to devises that are plugged into them, and having lighting systems that use less electricity all squeeze the energy costs. Another important saver is programing the dishwater and clothes dryer to run during late hours. Interestingly, the Prius Plug-in, has a timer that enables it to start charging during off-peak hours. The addition of the Prius has raised the monthly bill for electricity by a measly $4.

 

 

There are other things that can reduce energy use that may take more time. For example, having large bushes and trees keep the sun off the house is worthwhile. The west side of the Alta Loma house is shaded by a hedge and vine. Keeping your freezer and refrigerator full and keeping the coils clean helps save running costs and using small solar entry lights can keep your entry lighted for very little cost.

 

 

One final tip, on those cold nights when the thought of going to bed unless the home is 68 or higher degrees, is not appealing, use the microwave to prepare a couple of rice heating bags. They can be tucked under the covers a few minutes before bedtime and they can easily take the chill off the bedding and retain warmth for over an hour.

 

 

Setting the programmable thermostat at 62 at night and 68 in the day in winter and a maximum in summer of 78 or 80, taking advantage of utility offerings checking your usage with an Edison account are ways you can certainly save yourself some hard earned income as well as help to save the environment.

The bottom line is that this house does not use solar panels because it is so energy efficient it does not qualify. It just uses items that  are subsidized by many energy agencies and water districts.  The energy costs of this house would save a potential buyer thousands of dollars a year so those looking to purchase a home should definitely check the utility costs before making a decision.

For free teaching resources go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com

 

 

 

Animal Rights and Environmental Organizations: In Honor of Wolf 527

by The Car Family

One sure fire way to get students interested and involved is through using lessons and issues related to the environment and animal rights. I started a 527 Wildlife Club. It was named for the dominate female Yellowstone female wolf that was killed by Ryan Counts of Pray, Montana. The wolf was wearing a radio collar and shortly thereafter most of her group was also killed. This an major kills in Idaho were the result of the gray wolf being removed from the endangered list by the Secretary of the Interior. After reading the story of 527’s life the students were eager to take action. They wrote letters, send petitions, sponsored a wolf at the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary, and sent money to Defenders of Wildlife. They were empowering themselves. They were motivated to learn and to use the system appropriately.

When they came to class the regular lessons were waiting and they gulped down the material eagerly after checking what was happening on the current events board and what emails have arrived. This motivation not only rolled into the classroom, but they started to get their parents involved. Clearly, this issue was controversial as many feel that the wolves threaten their livestock and some claim wolves are causing the elk population to fall. Thus it is important to show both sides of the issue. That being said, there are less controversial issues students can adopt, but this issue and the way that 527 was killed stirred a fire under them as few other issues have ever done. Using the teachable moment ideas here, ( http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/teachable-moments.html) I was able to integrate the curriculum, and keep the fires burning while still following the required course of study.

Should you want to see more about what happened here are some articles that may be of interest. Also listed are a variety of environmental links to all types of educational related sites. Very worthwhile and true to the goal of education, which is to provide lifelong learners and good citizens. We even used them to bring in guest speakers to help bring new information to the students.

Photo ffrom Tom Murphy

http://tmurphywild.com/

The story of 527 and her killing:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kittenclaw/4100924679/

and

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/25/nation/na-wolf-hunt25

Here is the site where we adopted a wolf from. There are other wolf adoption sites that may be closer.

The students loved the fact that these wolves were the models for the ones in Twilight-New Moon

http://www.wolfmountain.com/

Here is a good overall site with many organizations of all types offering educational materials

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/environment.html

General environmental organizations

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/index.html

Educational Sites

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/programs.html

Wolf cam

http://www.wolf.org/wolves/experience/webcam.asp

Animal Rights Organizations

Huge link site by issue, animal

http://www.webdirectory.com/Wildlife/

Wildlife organizations in alphabetical order

http://animal.discovery.com/guides/atoz/organizations.html

Worldlife Organization

http://www.worldwildlife.org/

Animal Welfare Sites

http://www.dmoz.org/Society/Organizations/Animal_Welfare/Rescues_and_Shelters/Wildlife/

Bird Sites

http://www.webdirectory.com/wildlife/Birds/

Wolf Sanctuaries

http://www.wolfpark.org/Links_org.html

and

http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/info/listing.htm

Wolf and Wildlife link site

http://www.wolf.org/wolves/learn/basic/resources/links_wolforgs.asp

Wolves and Bears

http://www.cosmosmith.com/wolf_links.html

Endangered Animals Worldwide

http://www.kidsplanet.org/factsheets/map.html

Environment Sites

Environmental Organizations

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/overviews.html

Rainforest and conservation sites

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/global-resources.html#4

Weather related sites

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/weather.html

General organizations

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/organizations.html

Oceanography

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/oceanography.html

Rainforest and trees

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/forests.html

Water resources

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/water.html

Energy links

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/energy.html

Recyling

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/recycling.html

Youth Programs

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/youth.html

Forests

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/forests2.html

Earth Day

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/earthday.html

Soil and Parks

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/environment/soil.html

Arbor Day

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/trees.html

Native Plant Oragnizations

http://www.tardigrade.org/natives/orgs.html

Statistics of all types are located here. 

 The first is a great site that has all types of data including a life span calculator. It can also calculate by the year, month, and day the world’s death rate, birth rate, number of accidents, and much more. 

The site is dramatic in its overwhelming amount of data including how the military debt is rising each day.

 http://www.peterrussell.com/Odds/WorldClock.php

 Are you an average teacher?

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/demographics.html

Immigration statistics through history

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/immigrate.html#5

 Labor statistics

http://www.reacheverychild.com/socialstudies/economics/index.html

Bureau of Labor statistics

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/celebrate_teaching.html#a

 Environmental statistics by country

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/environment.html#4

Global statistics

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/global.html

by Alan Haskvitz

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/global-warming.html

This is an very interesting table about where all of the presidential candidates stand on energy usage. It is going to be updated and can be printed as a file.

What is especially interesting is that Rudy Giuliani has no stated positions at present. It is good to be the poll leader. Ron Paul also has stated very little, except it does not like restrictions.

Of note is the fact that almost every Republican doesn’t want to do anything about energy conservation while the Democrats are trying to outdo each other with restrictions.

http://www.heatison.org/content/blank/candidate_chart

A huge list of links to sites that debate the pro and con of global warmings.

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/global-warming.html

This is a list of the most needed websites for educators. In contains links to everything from dealing with behavior problems to the law to assessments to finding jobs.

Because of the length of the free links they are listed here

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/teacher-survival.html 

The site was developed by the only teacher in history who has been selected a Reader’s Digest Hero in Education, a NCSS national teacher of the Year, a USA Today All American first team teacher, the winner of the Freedom Foundation medal of honor, and the winner of the International Cherry Award for Great Teachers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Johnny Appleseed Lessons

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

John Chapman was born in 1774 on September 26th. He traveled the country palnting apple seeds. This activity gave birth to the Johnny Appleseed legend. Here are some excellent links and lessons based on his life.

A site dedicated to his life.

http://www.appleseed.net/

 

A large link site to lessons that are mainly primary level.

http://atozteacherstuff.com/Themes/Apples/

Apple lessons, but a few on Johnny

http://webtech.kennesaw.edu/jcheek3/appleseed.htm

An article and primary lessons

http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr091.shtml

Powerpoint presentations about Appleseed

http://themes.pppst.com/apples.html

 

A writing exercise

http://alex.state.al.us/lesson_view.php?id=14496

Large link site to lessons at several levels.

http://www.emints.org/ethemes/resources/S00002070.shtml

For more lessons of folktales go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/folklore.html

For more resources go to http://www.reacheverychild.com

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