Going Green – Education for Sustainability
Welcome to the Going Green Project! '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). Between September 2015 and April 2016, “Going Green” became part of a larger teaching platform Teach About US with updated content, and some 900 students in both countries, together with their teachers, showed that sustainable development is a shared responsibility that can actually be fun – see for yourself.
Joing us now for the third 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.
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.
- Deadline for student submissions is June 2, 2017.
- Winners will be rewarded a school visit by representatives of the Teach About Us team or the U.S. Embassy and Consulates, or a briefing in the U.S. Embassy Berlin should your school be in the vicinity.
The U.S. Embassy and their partners invite all participants to enter their action plans into a student competition with awards for outstanding products arising from classroom work. 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 the 2014 pilot project we know 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, June 2, 2017 (before midnight, Berlin time). 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 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 allowing for different degrees of 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 this 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