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|Project Title: ||Catalog Canceling Challenge|
|School Year: ||2008|
|School - District:||The Park - Brookline|
|Contact Name:||Ted Wells|
|Contact Phone:||(617) 512-8724|
|Content-Area(s):||Science & Technology|
|Grades:||3, 4, 5|
|Community Need:||Education, Environment|
|Brief Description of SL Project: |
Third, fourth, and fifth grade students at The Park School had a friendly challenge to see which grade could cancel the most unwanted sales catalogs in one month. They did this to help the environment as 98% of catalogs are unwanted yet 19.8 billion are set out each year in the USA wasting massive amounts natural resources (61 million trees, 59 billion gallons of water, and 1.4 million homes worth of energy). There is a kick-off assembly, then student cancel catalogs at home, and finally they bring them in to piles at school. At the end of one month, students count up the catalogs and weigh them (if possible). There are many resources at www.tedwells.org to stretch this project further, especially in regards to mathematics including much potential for data study. Or teachers can make up their own. After making videos to promote the project, my students are now excited to invite other schools to join the project.
|The Community Need the Project is Meeting:|
Students are very good at noticing environmental problems and a lack of sustainable practices in their schools, homes, and communities - unwanted catalogs being just one of many. When addressing such "green" issues, students are "thinking globally and acting locally." Further, with the many potentially frightening problems with the environment out there, students are calmed and empowered by acting and making a difference rather than being bystanders. There are many significant community needs in regards to helping the environment (waste control via recycling and composting, energy conservation via light patrols, cafeteria use, cleaning products, the lessons on more abstract topics like energy production, pollution, and global warming). This catalog project just happens to have clear and obvious connections and solutions to the topics of deforestation, energy use, water conservation, and global warming. That's why it's a good project for our schools. (It’s also much easier to set up and follow through with than a school recycling program – the most popular green service learning project – which all schools should also do!)
|Service Component: |
The service project was canceling catalogs for the school (we were receiving over 50 a day that went directly into the recycling bins) and for their families for those who chose to participate. The project was one that teachers tried to do on their own the year prior, but couldn't keep up with. So this year, the students helped and took the project to levels we never anticipated!
|Connections with Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: |
As a teacher at a private school, I am not familiar with MA public school curriculum frameworks, but this project satisfies goals such as:
--studying data through graphing projects
--converting numbers when computing the environmental resource savings resulting from canceling catalogs
--appreciating the necessity of a healthy natural world
--studying global warming
--connections to energy use and deforestation
--and, most importantly energizing students to make a difference in the world.
Ultimately this project can be minimal and only done at home, or a teacher can make many academic connections in the classroom to math and science, or even writing, for example my students wrote news articles to wrap up the project (these can be found at: http://www.parkschool.org/blogs/ted_wells/press.)
|How Youth Voice Helps Shape Project:|
Some students went door to door in their neighborhoods asking others in their community if they could cancel any unwanted catalogs. Several students started a Catalog Canceling Challenge in a local community center getting participation from three other schools. A parent organized a hugely successful CCC at a school in Needham.
|Student Reflection Component: |
The news articles mentioned above are a great example of reflection after the project. My students also wrote journal entries in their Writers' Notebooks the morning that Ann Curry of NBC’s Today Show interviewed us and after the experience. Several students wrote, "What’s important is not getting on TV, but helping the environment."
|Community Partners Involved: |
Several parents helped with this project. It was great working with a few other teachers and parents in making the project a success. And this group has now formed our schools "Green Committee" and is on to other important work.
|Demonstration/Celebration of Students' Work: |
Making our class video of the project was a great way to wrap it up and share what we were doing. This video was featured on the www.CatalogChoice.org blog and on www.MeetTheGreens.org and eventually the Today Show. There have been a few other features of the project, such as an article in Bank Street College of Education's magazine.
|Evaluation of Project's Impact:|
I created a spreadsheet to "crunch the numbers" and calculate the environmental savings of canceling catalogs. Creating such a document would be an amazing high school math project with many great calculations and computer use necessary, but it was far beyond my 4th graders ability, so I did it. Copies can be downloaded at: www.parkschool.org/blogs/ted_wells/results/
|Challenges/Solutions Identified by District:|
Building a sturdy, safe, and appropriately visual canceled catalog storage bin was a key to our success. I enjoy woodworking, so this was fun for me, but other schools may have to use cardboard boxes or other storage options. This may be a great project for a wood working class, if they can be in the loop the month before a challenge begins.
Getting the students appropriately motivated is another key to success. In our kick off assembly we got kids truly "pumped up" to cancel. I remember a wonderful, "Do you want to save some trees?!" "YEAH!" "Do want to save some water?!" "YEAH!!" "Do you want to save energy?!!" YEAH!!!" "DO YOU WANT TO SAVE THE PLANET?!!" "YEAH!!!!" "THEN GET OUT THERE AND CANCEL SOME CATALOGSSS!!!" kind of moment. It was great fun. Therefore, an energized kick-off assembly is another key step to a successful project.
We also had a teacher then a few student cancel some Crate and Barrel catalogs live on speakerphone amped through the theater sound system in front of 150 kids. It was hilarious and educational. Then we had two 5th grade girls cancel some catalogs on www.CatalogChoice.orgwww.CatalogChoice.org with a projector to teach others. Finally we showed the slide show that can be found at: www.http://www.parkschool.org/blogs/ted_wells/videos/
* NOTE: This project summary was written by the district/community. Any text in italics was added or modified by the Department (ESE). Most of these projects were supported with Learn & Serve America funds distributed through the ESE.