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Using 21st Century Skills: Science Teachers, Media Specialists And An ITRT Help Their School Become Part Of “The Green Generation”

Deborah Marshall, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher
Granby High School, Norfolk, VA

Lisa Ward-McKnight, Media Specialist,
Granby High School, Norfolk, VA

Betsy Davis, Media Specialist,
Granby High School
, Norfolk, VA

Earth DayApril 22, 2010 is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The Earth Day Network’s goal is for “all people to have a healthy and sustainable environment” and science teachers are working with media specialists to be part of the “educated” and “energized population” that can make that happen ( It’s easy, and in the process, you will be helping to infuse your school with 21st century skills and a healthy respect for the environment.

At Granby High, we started gearing up a little early. It all started with a discussion about how we could promote Earth day with an activity that would really make the students think about their impact on the earth and the school. Through a collaborative effort that started with the Science department, Media Specialists and ITRT, a renewed interest in conservation has taken hold throughout the school.

During the first week of the 2008-09 school year, ninth grade science teachers Michelle Baird, Henry Coppola, Nancy Stewart and Crissy Crusemire brought their classes to the media center’s research/ training lab. We, Betsy Davis and Lisa Ward, Granby High’s media specialists and Deborah Marshall, the ITRT, talked to them about their environmental impact and then took turns teaching the students how to access their grades on-line and their student e-mail from school and home, as well as how to attach documents to send. We also showed students how to save their documents in their personal folders on the server Norfolk Public Schools provides for students so that they may have remote access to their documents anywhere they have Internet access. Their teachers set up their web pages with downloadable worksheets and posted assignments to eSembler, the grades on-line tool that all students and parents have access to from school and home. Students sent or posted their assignments, which were now time stamped and dated; teachers used the comment tool in Word to make suggestions or corrections, paperlessly.

Science teachers Therese Whitehurst and Tracy Grant chose research topics which made their students really focus on the environment and what it means to be green. Whitehurst‘s students researched the possible benefits of and obstacles to using the alterative energy sources that are in the news and in the political arena. She wants her students to understand that in order to evaluate an alterative energy source’s efficacy we have to see the bigger picture, how this solution works in the ecological system not in isolation. NPR has wonderful sources including podcasts from Science Friday. Tracy Grant suggested that her students research what it means to be “Green Certified.” What makes a product or building green? They then compare and discuss the requirements. Start with the “Green Certified” requirements for your state. Good sites for information on green building are and the US Green Building Council This site includes PowerPoint presentations and a multi-page worksheet for the students to evaluate how green their school building is.

We also worked with science teachers to create tracks in Trackstar ( which guided the students’ research, paperlessly. Some teachers used their portaportal sites ( The students then added their findings to a table or spreadsheet, which was saved in the teacher’s folder on the server. We also worked with members of the science department to create quizzes and reviews using TurningPoint, an automatic response system. Teachers brought their students to the media center lab, or we brought the system to their classrooms, and by the end of the block, the students had quiz grades, paperlessly. We repeated the process for paperless SOL review; paper copies were available. The students reviewed in class and saved the presentations in their folders, so they could be accessed in the building or at home to review before the test. No more reams of paper printing out slides. Every visit began with a brief discussion of the environment and the many ways we can be good stewards of the planet.

As Earth Day approached, Betsy sent out an email reminding people on Earth Day there would be no printing at all in the media center. There was not the uproar from the students or teachers we had anticipated when we first planned our paperless day. We actually heard students, and not just our now very environmentally aware science students, tell others, “You don’t need to print that” and “Just save the good parts in your folder… Oh yeah, remember to cite your source.” Some of the paper-saving techniques we used were not new; in fact, we “recycled” from an earlier time when paper was not so plentiful at GHS. We had just updated with the new resources now available.
So, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (the most celebrated secular event in the world), dig out your earth shoes (or Birkenstocks for you youngsters), wear some natural fiber, shop at your local farmer’s market and think about and research all the ways you can recommit to “go green” in your school. For more information on Earth Day or to check out your personal carbon footprint as Kelly Alperin’s students did, go to Click on the “resources link” for educational resources.

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Earth Day

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Click on the “resources link” for educational resources