Integrating Technology with Instruction
Generative Topic for the seminar: The Green House We Live In
The question is what does it mean to go ‘green’? This unit of curriculum is designed as a seminar for younger or older adults who want to better understand what ‘going green’ means, some ways they can accomplish green living in their lives and how a ‘green house’ connects to a the larger issues of our planet as a home. The ultimate goal of the seminar is to provide each student with several things you can do in the course of a day that will impact the environment (whether an apartment, dorm or residential home), as well as benefit the larger world we live in. In addition, students will explore the green concept in a variety of fields like environmental literature, science, history and economics to understand how their simple, individual actions relate to broader and more complex issues. As Wiske (2005) states, generative topics should “have a ‘bottomless’ quality that generates and rewards continuing inquiry” and should also be “connected to multiple ideas within and across subject matters.” (p.10)
Essential Questions for the seminar:
Along the way we hope to answer a number of essential questions about going green:
- Why go green? These days most people have some awareness about the coming global changes in the availability of natural resources and the danger of green house gases warming our planet. While aware, taking action often seems futile because of the magnitude of the problem. In addition, the issues we will eventually face as communities seems far away. We want students to find answers to the question “why go green?”
- How do we go green? If we knew what to do and made a commitment to action, we might find there are a number of steps we could take day-to-day to contribute in a small way to the solution, instead of contributing to the problem. Some green actions may surprise you for their cost effectiveness, while you may be unaware that everyday activities you think nothing of contribute to the problem. Whether you pick out easy activities or make more difficult commitments, becoming conscious of what contributes to the problem and what can help solve it is the best first step in how you go green.
- How do these small steps impact the larger world? For each inconsequential individual step, the greater impact can add up to a collaborative solution, though we never really sit down for a meeting with our neighbors or go to a community gathering or join an environmental action committee. And as large as the problem is, it is the collective of more than a billion people who took the global community to this point in history, so perhaps it’s the steps of more than a billion individuals that has the capacity to solve the problem. Still, countries like the U.S. consume a greater quantity of the natural resources in the world and have contributed more greenhouse gases. Does that make us ethically responsible to place greater efforts towards solutions?
Overarching goals and objectives for the class are as follows:
- Students will gain a background in environmental writing, research and documentaries in several subject areas: literature, science, economics and history.
- Students will gain an understanding of how everyday activities impact the environment.
- Students will gain an understanding of the choices individuals and communities make and their impact on the planet through analysis, research and problem solving.
- Students will gain a greater understanding in researching, problem solving and analyzing carbon footprints and other environmental data.
As Wiske (2005) notes, “understanding goals address multiple dimensions: knowledge, methods of inquiry and reasoning, purposes for learning, and forms of expression. “ (p.10)
This following course outline plans to use the ‘green’ concept as the central generative idea, while focusing each course topic on an academic subject, utilizing specific tools in conjunction with that area and showing how each subject area and tool relate back to an environmental issue. As Savery & Duffy (2001) stated in their paper on problem based learning “Anchor all learning activities to a larger task or problem.” (p.3) In selecting to look at the environment through different fields of study, students receive a more rounded and dimensional view of the generative topic.
Generative Topic One: Reading, writing and recycling with a focus on literature.
Textbook: McGibbon, W. (Ed.). (2008). American earth: Environmental writing since Thoreau. New York, N.Y.: Library of America
Essential Questions Topic One:
What are some of the defining literary works that celebrate the environment?
What makes this writing relevant today?
How will recycling impact the printed word?
Generative Topic Two: Media, sound and creating with a focus on economics and jobs.
Textbook: McDonough, W. & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle To Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things. New York, N. Y.: North Point Press (This book itself isn’t made of paper and is biodegradable.)
Essential Questions Topic Two:
Does recycling adequately address our environmental issues?
Will diminishing resources require businesses to rethink how things are made?
Can green products really result in an era of new industrial innovation?
Generative Topic Three: Technology use with a focus on science.
Documentary: Bender, L., Burns, S.Z. & David, L. (2006). An inconvenient truth. U.S.: Paramount Pictures.
http://www.climatehotmap.org/ (prepared by the Union of Concerned Scientists)
Essential Questions Topic Three:
What is the connection between energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2)?
What is a carbon footprint?
What is your household’s carbon footprint?
What actions can you take at home or in the car to reduce your carbon footprint?
Generative Topic Four: Collaboration, groups and action with a focus on history.
Textbooks: Carson, R. (1962) Silent Spring. New York, N.Y.: Fawcett Crest Books
Essential Questions Topic Four:
What launched the environmental movement?
What were the first national environmental issues to capture broad public attention?
What were some solutions to initial environmental problems?
Additional reference material for the class: Rogers, E. & Kostigen, T.M. (2007). The green book. Three Rivers Press
READ THE PAPER:The Green House- Detrie, Susan