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Classrooms Are Growing Greener


Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Physical Science
----Earth Science
Social Studies
--Current Events
Vocational Education


Grades 2 and up

News Content

Making classrooms "greener" can have a positive impact on student health and learning. Click for a printable copy of this News for You story.

Anticipation Guide

What are some ways in which people are making our planet a "greener" place to live? Pose that question to students and record their variety of responses on chart paper or a black/white board. Then ask them to place a star (*) next to any of the ideas that relate to making their school a greener place to work and learn.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the student printable page: programmed, idle, neutral, benefit, insulate, and odor. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • When she walked in the door after baseball practice, Eloise got a whiff of an unmistakable _____: brownies in the oven. (odor)
  • Exhaust spews from cars as they _____ in the school parking lot. (idle)
  • A layer of blubber beneath a penguin's skin helps to _____ the penguin from cold Antarctic temperatures. (insulate)
  • Tom _____ the DVD player to record the game so he could watch it when he got home from school. (programmed)
  • Principal McGiver hopes that students will _____ from all the practice sessions before the big test. (benefit)
  • Pablo shifted the car into _____ while he waited in bumper-to-bumper traffic. (neutral)

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story Classrooms Are Growing Greener.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story.

American Modular Systems (AMS) of Manteca, California, has debuted a line of Gen7 green classrooms [view video above] that claim to lower environmental footprints and operating costs while increasing student test scores by 20 percent. Gen 7 classrooms feature a high amount of recycled and recyclable materials; "harvest" natural daylight as much as possible; and include denim insulation that helps make them more energy-efficient and soundproof. All construction is done off-site so as not to affect any existing school environment. A Gen7 classroom can be built and installed in less than 90 days. AMS estimates that its green buildings can save school districts as much as $100,000 annually. In addition, Tony Sarich, vice president of operations for AMS, said, "Green schools enjoy 20 percent higher test scores, fewer absences, and lower healthcare costs."

School construction makes up 27 percent of the U.S. construction market. Building a school that complies with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards costs 2 percent (or $3 per square foot) more upfront. On the back end, green schools use up to 30 percent less energy, 30 to 50 percent less water, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent compared to traditionally built schools. [source] The same source notes that

  • In a 2005 survey of executives who planned and built green K-12 schools, 71 percent said that students in green schools performed better and 72 percent said that there was less absenteeism compared to other schools.
  • A report published in October 2006 by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the U.S. Green Building Council noted that Washington state saw absenteeism decrease by 15 percent in its first green school.
  • In a 1999 study, Hershong Mahone Group, a building-efficiency consulting company, evaluated 2,000 classrooms in Oakland, California, Seattle, Washington, and Fort Collins, Colorado. They found that students with the most daylight progressed 20 percent faster in math and 26 percent faster in reading than students in classrooms with poor lighting.

According to one estimate, more than 85 percent of student and teacher time is spent indoors, so improving indoor air conditions will reduce absences due to respiratory illness. In order to create a greener environment, many districts and manufacturers have turned to low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paints to improve indoor air quality.

School leaders and students are helping to create greener environments by doing some of these things:

  • They place the recycling symbol on all classroom walls as a reminder to recycle.
  • Students use reusable water bottles rather than throw-away plastic bottles.
  • In classrooms where students have jobs, one students job is to be the classs "recycling monitor."
  • Students plant seeds in classrooms and watch as plants grow; or they plant class gardens outdoors.
  • Some schools have started recycling contests to see which classrooms recycle the most.

An anti-idling campaign launched by sixth-graders at Morningside Elementary in Millcreek, Utah, is reaping real-life lessons. Teacher Patti White's 29 students penned an anti-idling resolution that Rep. Carol Moss successfully sponsored through Utah's legislature. Gov. Gary Herbert conducted a ceremonial signing of HJR5 at the Utah State Capitol.

Additional Resources

Use the News

Print out this week's Use the News printable activity page for students. Or use the questions on that page to check student comprehension.

Activity Page Answer Key
Reading Comprehension. 1.T, 2.F, 3.F, 4.T, 5.T, 6.T, 7.T, 8.F, 9.T, 10.T.
Language Practice: Word Use. 1.b, 2.d, 3.b, 4.c, 5.c.
Reading Comprehension: Whats the Main Idea? d. Schools are making an effort to go green so kids can learn and feel better.


Use the Use the News printable activity page as an assessment (answers above). Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.7 Evaluating Data
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NPH-H.K-4.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.K-4.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.K-4.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.K-4.7 Health Advocacy
GRADES 5 - 8
NPH-H.5-8.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.5-8.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.5-8.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.5-8.7 Health Advocacy
GRADES 9 - 12
NPH-H.9-12.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.9-12.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.9-12.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.9-12.7 Health Advocacy

NS.K-4.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.K-4.2 Physical Science
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
NS.K-4.5 Science and Technology
NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.5-8.2 Physical Science
NS.5-8.3 Life Science
NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
NS.5-8.5 Science and Technology
NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.9-12.2 Physical Science
NS.9-12.3 Life Science
NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science
NS.9-12.5 Science and Technology
NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

NSS-EC.K-4.2 Effective Decision Making
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-EC.5-8.1 Productive Resources
NSS-EC.5-8.2 Effective Decision Making
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-EC.9-12.1 Productive Resources
NSS-EC.9-12.2 Effective Decision Making

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.2 Social, Ethical, and Human Issues

See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Updated 11/28/2012