Photo of students looking at a map

Educator of the Week Shares Water Conservation Activity

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Photo of Audrey HughesAudrey Hughes, this week’s Educator of the Week, is a 7th science grade teacher at a middle school in Georgia. She has been teaching for 22 years.

Activity: Earth’s Limited Water Resources: Issues of Conservation and Access
Grade Level: 5-7
Time Commitment: 50 minutes

I coordinate a school-wide Trash Hunger Campaign which is a student-led effort in which non-traditional items are collected and sold to recyclers. The items include everything from juice pouches to small appliances. The earnings are donated to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and UNICEF. All students in the school, as well as outside participants, learn how to conserve resources and recycle while helping others. Students directly involved in the program are given opportunities to help at the local food bank to further their understanding of its mission and the needs in the community.

Photo of students in a food bank.
Hughes’ students volunteering in their local food bank. Photograph by Audrey Hughes

In addition, the project helps all students better understand people in the countries that UNICEF serves. Teachers across all grade levels and curricular areas use resources from TeachUNICEF to enhance their existing standards-based instruction. The campaign also allows teachers to make real-world connections with students. In turn, they can directly see the impact of their learning and efforts to conserve and help others.

I also incorporate global perspectives into my everyday lessons. The focus of this sample lesson is to teach about water conservation while enhancing a global view of resource use and our global responsibility. The lesson teaches students to describe and graph the percentages of Earth’s salt and fresh water. This demonstrates the distribution of water on Earth. The inequity of this distribution is simulated using jellybeans. Students then determine ways communities can protect freshwater resources and explain the impact the global water crisis has on people.

How did this activity impact your students? Did students change an aspect of their behavior or way of thinking?

Photo of a student looking at a poster
A student studies the life cycle of an aluminum can. Aluminum cans are one of many items the school collects for the Trash Hunger Campaign. Photograph by Audrey Hughes

The Trash Hunger Campaign has made a positive impact at my school. The students think about their trash and different ways it can be used. They think about others in our own community and around the globe and want to make a positive impact. The majority of students are high-poverty themselves. Our local newspaper recently reported that one-third of students in our county are living in food insecure households. The students understand hunger and why it is important to “Trash Hunger.” The Trash Hunger Campaign allows them to do something to help put a dent in childhood hunger, both in their own community and in other countries around the world while helping the environment at the same time. Students school-wide have embraced this campaign. The local community is also supporting this campaign. Currently, more than 20 local businesses collect Trash Hunger items for our campaign.

What academic topics or standards did you integrate into this specific lesson or activity?

The Trash Hunger Campaign incorporates many of the Next Generation Science Standards for middle school.

How does teaching with a global perspective impact your students?

Photo of students looking at a map
Hughes shows a group of students places around the world where the earnings from the Trash Hunger Recycling Campaign help others. Photograph by Kevin Kotrick, UGA Student Teacher

Teaching with a global perspective allows my students to visualize their role in the global community. It allows them to take ownership of their choices and how those choices impact the environment, other people, and species that we share the planet’s resources with. Teaching with a global perspective makes the learning more meaningful for the students.

What advice do you have for teachers who want to get more involved with teaching students about the world across disciplines?

My advice is to give it a try! Students from all types of circumstances are interested in learning about others and how they fit into the global society. Teaching with this perspective makes the content come to life and it engages the students. TeachUNICEF and National Geographic Education both have a library of resources that encompass all grade levels and disciplines that can provide many ideas for teachers to use and adapt to meet their students’ specific learning needs. Teachers don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

Do you have a favorite book or blog that inspires your teaching?

My favorite teacher resource books are Project Wild and Project Wet teacher guides. I believe that students retain content better when they are involved and engaged in the lesson and make a connection with that content.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you in your personal life or in your teaching?

My favorite quote is from Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

3 thoughts on “Educator of the Week Shares Water Conservation Activity

  1. Greate article. Keep posting such kind of info on your site.
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  2. Thank you so much for sharing these links. Very helpful. Blogging for teachers can prove to be very productive. Because it is the only medium that can let teachers share their idea and experience that is not restricted to a specific region, but to the whole world.

  3. Bravo Ms. Hughes. The words “global perspective” as used often in education, and you have a project that is effective in making the local/global connection – scaffolding your students’ current world with the “world out there.”.

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