This past Wednesday was Earth Day, and people around the globe celebrated the occasion by raising awareness of major issues affecting our planet – climate change, air and water pollution, natural resource management. At my husband’s school (he teaches math), kids spent the majority of the day performing direct service in the name of the planet. They picked up trash, traveled to farms, etc.

Now that the official “day” is over, though, I’m hoping we can keep that spirit alive in ourselves and our schools. A good start? Make time to talk about the planet and its needs with the students, faculty, and families we work with.

Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Check out #GlobalCitizenEarthDay and #ActOnClimate to see some inspiring images & messages about the day. Have kids browse the feeds and make some generalizations about what they see. What seems important? Who is involved? Check back a week or so later. Has the Earth Day “buzz” died down? What are the implications? Let’s start thinking about how social media can help us cultivate students who see themselves as global citizens and to connect responsibly to others to support a cause using tools like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
  • Read and discuss articles in the news that explain the water crisis in California and some of the potential solutions. Here are a few from Time (this one too) and the LA Times to get you started. Talk about the different points of view involved, and what’s at stake for various groups, like farm owners and farmworkers, poor families, even landscape architects. Have kids see this as an opportunity for innovation and to brainstorm creative solutions.
  • Look for novel situations involving environmental issues and have kids apply concepts learned in your class or discipline to modern problems. Concepts like change & continuity, interdependence, cause & effect, diversity, hybridity, as well as justice, peace, and sustainability all meet in discussions of the Earth’s health. Check out this site for a variety of articles to get started.
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