Going Green – Education for Sustainability
Register for the project and request your Moodle course now!
Join us now for the fourth installment of Going Green!
Schools throughout the U.S. and Germany will navigate through web 2.0 applications and social media, and exchange their findings. They will publish their local initiatives online and contribute them to a student competition for outstanding ideas to advance sustainable development in their communities.
'Going Green' is an intercultural blended-learning project and the product of a partnership between the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Leuphana University Lüneburg, and LIFE e.V. In a pilot project in 2014, German and U.S. students explored approaches to sustainable development collaboratively through an e-learning platform (Moodle). In 2015, “Going Green” became part of a larger teaching platform Teach About US with updated content, and since its first installment, Going Green has attracted over 2,000 participants in both countries, together with their teachers, and showed that sustainable development is a shared responsibility that can actually be fun – see for yourself.
The road ahead:
- Sign up your course for the project and register your e-classroom here.
- If you want to participate with a transatlantic partner, look up important information in our FAQ section.
- A student competition will invite all participants to submit their green action plans. Deadline for student submissions is March 30, 2018.
- New STEM-oriented course contents are currently being added to the Going Green curriculum.
- A new project week module on renewable energies has been developed in cooperation with science educators at Leuphana University and will implement a stronger focus on STEM school subjects starting January 2018.
Teach About US invites all project participants to submit their action plans to the annual Going Green student competition with awards for outstanding classroom projects. The competition ends around Earth Day (April 22) each year. The submission deadline for 2018 is March 30.
We believe that this is an excellent opportunity to boost student motivation and to strengthen the understanding that their approaches for sustainable development are relevant to their communities and beyond. From our teacher and student feedback we have learned that in most cases, student engagement to produce an action plan exceeded their teachers’ expectations (and ours included) by far! Many participants saw their action plans and project outcomes featured in local newspaper articles and radio reports, at school festivities and even town hall meetings.
We would like to emphasize that participants are encouraged to submit their contributions, regardless of class grade or school level or even the type of action plan. In 2014, the competition categories were formed after receiving the submission, reflecting the open character of the contribution. As educators ourselves, we understand that a poster should not have to compete with a complete website and social media campaign, that some participants naturally will have more time to prepare their action plans than others, and that young learners (in 2014, a grade-six course from Aalen won one of the awards!) will produce different outcomes than, for example, a year twelve AP English course.
In order to take part in the Going Green student competition, your students (one representative) or you will have to submit your course's contribution by the submission deadline on March 30, 2018. This will be done by uploading the product (or a link to the product) onto the Teach About US platform. To do this, a registered and logged-in user needs to visit the platform’s Going Green section, enter the Virtual Town Hall, go to the section ‘Your sustainability action plans’ and enter your action plan into the DATABASE: Your sustainability action plan. If—for whatever reason—your upload fails, you may also submit your group’s contribution via e-mail to the Going Green team. The contributions will be reviewed by an expert jury and members of the Teach About US team. We will announce more information on this procedure in due time.
In this school project, we offer a selection of up-to-date authentic teaching materials on U.S.-American culture and the issue of sustainable development in the 21st century. The project has an open design that allows for a flexible implementation in your classroom in accordance with local state and school curricula, time budgets, teaching and learning practices, and technological infrastructures. Yet, we do emphasize several core principles of teaching and learning in this project. Tasks-cycles and materials in the Going Green project were designed following a task-based, integrated-skills approach to foreign language instruction, they provide a guided introduction of computer-assisted language learning to teachers with little e-learning experience. They also open an exciting avenue to fostering intercultural communicative competence.
Task-based language learning & teaching
All Going Green materials are organized in thematic task-cycles that logically build upon one another, but can also be used individually. These task-cycles typically involve a chain of activities that (a) conclude with a clearly defined product, (b) focus on the meaning of communication instead of isolated linguistic and grammatical structures, and (c) reflect patterns of real-world communication. Yet, there is also a place for explicit study of language: Throughout the curriculum you or your students can select language exercises according to your specific goals and needs.
Computer-assisted language learning
Whether you complete the Going Green project in a blended learning format with your students enrolled on the Teach about US learning platform and include activities such as peer editing, forum discussions, or blog writing, or whether you teach Going Green in a more traditional setting with the paper-and-pencil handbook, the Going Green curriculum introduces the following competencies: reading in the web, evaluating information resources critically, participating in digital discourses in forums and social media, and presenting oneself in the digital arena through user videos to your classroom. We understand that even the most fascinating technological advances can be of little use in the classroom if not supported by a critical and robust pedagogy to support its implementation. Going Green materials have been developed in line with current research on school-based blended learning research and in close exchange with practitioner teachers.
Intercultural communicative competence
The thematic focus of this teaching unit is on U.S.-American culture and approaches to sustainable development in a transatlantic perspective. Through the critical review of authentic texts and local case studies, students are encouraged to perform a change of (cultural) perspectives. While students might hold—and openly exhibit—unreflected stereotypical images of their transatlantic partners (and even their own native culture), authentic texts and local case studies can stimulate learners to develop what has been termed an ‘insider’s perspective’ into the target culture in foreign language research. When German learners, for example, explore that in the U.S. many political and civic initiatives to protect the environment and combat climate change originate on the local level of individual communities and NGOs – and not necessary on the federal government level -, this insight can change the way they perceive this target culture – and, in turn, their own. In addition, Going Green can serve as an avenue to strengthen or initiate transatlantic partnerships between schools or courses. Does your school participate in a German-American exchange program? Then why don’t you participate with your exchange partner as a team.
The overall curricular goals of Going Green relate to the domains of task- and content-based language learning, intercultural and civic learning, as well as computer-assisted language learning. The following learning goals, amongst others, are targeted in the project:
- To intensively study different measures both countries are implementing concerning environmental issues
- To analyze the role of the federal governments versus local and state initiatives and contest commonly held stereotypes
- To reach out to local policy makers and organizations, compare measures that could be implemented in the students’ families, their schools, and their respective communities
- To establish online school co-operations and jointly develop ideas for real life actions, execute them, and present them on a shared-learning platform
- To actively participate in authentic intercultural discussions
- To produce materials and share them with other learners
- To learn how to use digital media effectively and critically
- To participate in a competition
Background: Content and language integrated learning
We are adding new STEM-based extensions to the Going Green curriculum to facilitate a greater integration of science and foreign language instruction and attract wider circles of participants. (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is similar to the German MINT - Mathematik, Informatik, Naturwissenschaft, Technik.) Current research on CLIL, short for "content and language integrated learning," shows that the conbined teaching of content and a foreign language creates benefits for learners, teachers, and schools. We know today that CLIL learners...
- are motivated,
- develop cognitively and their brains work harder,
- develop communication skills,
- make new personal meanings in another language,
- progress more in terms of learner language,
- receive a lot more foreign language input and work effectively with that input,
- interact meaningfully,
- learn to speak and write,
- develop intercultural awareness,
- learn about the 'culture' of a subject,
- are prepared for studying in another language,
- and they learn in different ways.
(Dale & Tanner 2012: 11-13)
Introducing CLIL can help schools and teachers think about school subjects in new ways and facilitate curricular renewal and innovation. Science teachers learn about the language aspects of their own subjects, while language teachers explore new relevant application fields of foreign languages. More inmportantly, maybe, CLIL supports teaching faculty to cooperate closer with each other:
Subject and language teachers start to collaborate more, for example on how to work on language in lessons or on cross-curricular projects. And with learners and teachers who have high level communication skills in English, schools are better equipped to participate in and benefit from international educational projects. CLIL also encourages greater collaboration among subject teachers as well as between subject and language teachers.
(Dale & Tanner 2012: 14)
So why combine science and foreign language instruction? Science subjects use language to communicate contents - scientific phenomena are described, explained, and analyzed. In science, different types of multimodal inputs like reports, charts, graphs, and video are common. This content becomes multimodal foreign language input for learners. They learn to express complex scientific findings in academically appropriate ways - they learn to think, talk, and write like scientists (cf. Dale & Tanner 2012: 80).
(For more information, see: Dale, Liz & Tanner, Rosie (2012). CLIL Activities. A Resource for Subject and Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)
New STEM-based contents: Research tasks and eco-challenges
The new STEM-based curriculum extensions can be found in the content modules on plastic, green cities, food, and fashion in the Going Green e-classroom, where we have added additional research tasks and eco-challenges. This give learners the choice to follow a more language-oriented or a science-oriented path.
The new research tasks prompts students to explore the science behind the topic they are investigating. For example, in the course module Plastic // Recycle learners can now investigate the question what is more sustainable – paper or plastic bags. Learners are asked to think in life-cycles, that is, to research how different types of bags are actually produced, what resources are necessary during this production process, and how these bags can be disposed. Finally, learners should return to the initial question and assess how environmentally friendly both option are, based on the research findings.
The new STEM-based eco-challenges ask students to slip into the role of scientists, that is, to conduct their own research experiments and report about the implications of their findings. This also means that learners must adhere to the basic principles of the scientific method. For the plastics module, for example, learners can experiment with creating biodegradable plastic from everyday ingredients or they can investigate how people used to go about their daily businesses before the advent of plastics – and thereby re-discover alternatives to this material.
Visit the Going Green demo course to view this additional content.
Using Going Green materials for a project week approach
Finally, a number of colleagues have reported that they used the Going Green curriculum in their classes to carry out project days or project weeks. The curriculum is well-suited to facilitate learning in alternative contexts, including workshops or extracurricular settings. To give you an idea of how this can be done, we propose the following procedure (but feel free to experiment with the content and adjust it to you local environment):
Power to the People
An interdisciplinary project week on community energy planning to bridge the Science and English language classrooms
The project week POWER TO THE PEOPLE is an interdisciplinary curriculum connecting the Science and English language curricula and is the latest addition to Going Green. Students are asked to investigate the energy infrastructure in a fictional town, understand the science behind renewable energies, and develop a concept for their community’s future energy supply.
In order to combat the global phenomenon of climate change and the warming of our planet’s atmosphere, different goals of national and international scope are being developed in order to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that largely cause this effect. Common strategies include the transition toward renewable energy sources and the implementation of energy efficient technologies. But while climate goals like the Paris Climate Agreement are negotiated internationally, it is the responsibility of localities - communities and cities - to put these decisions into action. Their geographic concentration, their complex structures and use of energy for housing, commerce, industry, traffic, and leisure, make communities and cities a major producer of greenhouse gases. At the same time, however, this offers a large potential for reducing these emissions.
This is where the project week curriculum for Power to the People starts. Modelled after community energy planning guidelines by the U.S. department of energy and the German Deutsche Energie Agentur dena, it introduces students to the context of the fictional town of Leinwig whose mayor is reaching out to your students to develop a plan for the town’s transition to renewable energy sources. This includes the steps of exploring this fictional scenario, comparing it to real-life case studies and best practices in the U.S. and Germany, and developing an action plan that is economically, ecologically, and technologically viable. As a project outcome, students present their solution in a 2-minute video and pitch their approach to an expert commission. A student competition with awards for outstanding project week outcomes will conclude the project.
With this approach, we intend to break up the borders between school subjects. The project week addresses contents and competences of both English language and Science instruction. We thus suggest that English language and Science teachers team up to carry out the project together. In preparation to the project week, preparatory science modules can be covered in science classes focusing on the concept of renewable energy sources, their availability and tradeoffs, as well as the science behind the different technologies.
Here is the project week curriculum at a glance:
- IDEA: The mayor of the fictional town of Leinwig needs your help! Her town is struggling with the transition toward a renewable energy portfolio and asks you to develop a community energy plan. You have one week to come up with a scientifically-backed and context-sensitive plan and pitch it to an expert commission.
- CONTENT FOCUS: renewable energy sources and the energy transition in a transatlantic perspective, especially at the community level
- SCHOOL SUBJECTS: English as a foreign language, STEM school subjects, social studies; we encourage Science and EFL teachers to partner up for the project
- COUNTRIES: groups from Germany and the U.S. (and of course other countries as well) can participate
- DURATION: 5 school days (c. 6 lessons each day) for the project week curriculum; four STEM-based preparatory study modules on renewable energy are available; curriculum can be adapted to shorter time budgets
- TARGET PARTICIPANTS: advanced secondary students (10th grade and older)
- MATERIALS & TOOLS: all materials are available in an online Moodle course and as copy-ready PDF files; internet access and computers or other digital devices are recommended
- COSTS: All materials on Teach About US are available at no cost upon registration
- OUTCOMES: Students pitch their community energy plan to an expert commission at their school. They present their concept in a 3-minute video and submit it to a student competition.
- TIME FRAME: The project week curriculum can be implemented flexibly (no specific date or week). The submission deadline for the video contributions will be announced soon.
To view the curriculum, visit the project week demo course (to be added in January 2018).
Going Green contents are in line with all 16 German state curricula for English as a Foreign Language in the German Gymnasium (Sekundarstufe II). The overview below lists different points of departure for integrating teaching contents in regular classes.
|Bundesland||T = Themenbereich/-schwerpunkt; Q = Thema i. d. Qualifikationsphase; Zahl = Angabe d. Halbjahres (sofern vorgegeben)|
||T: Chancen & Probleme soz. Wandels & der Globalisierung; T: zeitgenöss. öffentl. Leben & polit. Kultur d. USA; u.a.m.|
|Bayern||T: Umwelt, Natur, Wissenschaft und Technik|
|Berlin||Q3: Eine Welt - Globale Fragen; Q4: Herausforderung der Gegenwart|
|Brandenburg||Q3: Eine Welt - Globale Fragen; Q4: Herausforderung der Gegenwart|
|Bremen||T1: Universelle Themen der Menschen; T2: Aktuelle Lebenswirklichkeit in der anglophonen Welt|
|Hamburg||T2: Politische und soziale Themen der Gegenwart; T2: Universelle Themen der Menschheit|
|Hessen||Q1: The Challenge of Individualism (USA, Science & Technology); Q4: The Global Challenge|
||Q3: Eine Welt - Globale Fragen; Q4: Herausforderung der Gegenwart|
|Niedersachsen||T1: Beliefs, values & norms in Western societies: T5: Globalisation; T6: Science & technology|
|NRW||T1: Erschließung von Alltagswirklichkeiten; T4: Themen & Inhalte von globaler Bedeutung|
|Rheinland-Pfalz||T4: Naturwissenschaften - Technologie - Ökologie,|
|Saarland||Q1: Aspects of society; Q2: Science, technology,ecology|
|Sachsen||T: „sich positionieren zu Contemporary Issues in Politics and Society: science and technology, environment”; u.a.m.|
|Sachsen-Anhalt||T: The American Way of Life; T: Challenges of Our Time;|
|Schleswig-Holstein||T: Global Challenges;
|Thüringen||T2: People in Society; T3: Politics and Economy; T4: Environment, Science and Technology|
Click on the States to access the curriculum.
Going Green lessons and activities are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the College, Career & Civic Life C3 Framework for inclusion in your existing curriculum. Students who demonstrate understanding can:
Next Generation Science Standards
|Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.|
|Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.|
|Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.|
|Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.|
|Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.|
|Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.|
|Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.|
College, Career & Civic Life C3 Framework
|Explain how current globalization trends and policies affect economic growth, labor markets, rights of citizens, the environment, and resource and income distribution in different nations.|
|Evaluate how economic globalization and the expanding use of scarce resources contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among countries.|
|Construct explanations using sound reasoning, correct sequence (linear or non-linear), examples, and details with significant and pertinent information and data, while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of the explanation given its purpose (e.g., cause and effect, chronological, procedural, technical).|
|Present adaptations of arguments and explanations that feature evocative ideas and perspectives on issues and topics to reach a range of audiences and venues outside the classroom using print and oral technologies (e.g., posters, essays, letters, debates, speeches, reports, and maps) and digital technologies (e.g., Internet, social media, and digital documentary).|
|Use disciplinary and interdisciplinary lenses to understand the characteristics and causes of local, regional, and global problems; instances of such problems in multiple contexts; and challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address these problems over time and place.|
|Assess options for individual and collective action to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.|
|Apply a range of deliberative and democratic strategies and procedures to make decisions and take action in their classrooms, schools, and out-of-school civic contexts.|