Curriculum: Facing the Future
Facing the Future: People and the Planet. Since 1995, this organization has been researching and writing curriculum materials that promote critical thinking and meet national and state education standards (including California); providing professional development workshops to teachers on global issues, sustainability, and service learning; and consulting with schools to integrate global sustainability across their curricula.
Students learn about sustainability (environmental, social, and economic) and the tragedy of the commons by “fishing” with straws in a bowl of candy coated chocolate, or learn about their “ecological footprint” through researching and diagramming what everyday items like a hamburger or a cell phone are made of and what their impact is. These are just two examples of the 40 activities available for FREE on Facing the Future’s award-winning website.
The activities are a starting point for young people to think critically about issues facing the planet and to find entry points to make a difference in their local and global communities. Facing the Future also publishes an intermediate and advanced textbook to provide more in-depth coverage of the issues addressed in the hands-activities. Various materials can be ordered on their website starting as low as $10; complete classroom sets of the intermedia materials run for $145, and the advanced materials for $330.
Financial support may be available for qualifying schools, so don't let lack of funds stop you! In addition to curriculum there are many resources available on Facing the Future’s website that support service learning in schools, including professional development. A Take Action! Area of the website features a service learning project database as well as endless ideas and links for students and teachers to get involved in global issues and sustainable solutions.
The feedback from students and teachers is tremendous! An eighth grade student using Facing the Future's curriculum said “I know how to reduce my ecological footprint and help solve global issues. I also know that what I do here in America affects those in other places.” A 12th grader said “I know how to develop action plans to reach goals concerning the world around me.” A science teacher at Sam Lawson Middle School in Cupertino, CA said “The curriculum is amazing. I have used it systematically this year, and can find no faults with it. The students are incredibly engaged, while learning very complex issues related to my science curriculum. The students are writing, reflecting, researching, and reading more and more about global issues. I just love it!” In a survey done by Facing the Future, 98% of teachers using the curriculum and resources rated them as excellent or “good.”
So, as teachers, principals, school board members, parent volunteers and other school community members start planning for the year ahead, Green Schools Initiative encourages you to make time in your school schedule for hands-on environmental projects. The efforts can be scaled to the time you have available, whether weekly, monthly, once a semester, or even only one single classroom period.
The materials provided by Facing the Future, and these other resources listed below, can make it easy for you!
- Facing the Future - delivers curriculum and workshops to middle and high school teachers around the world. More than 800,000 students from all walks of life have been reached with these materials, including English and non-English speaking students, students from low, middle, and high income families, rural and urban students, and students from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
- Green Schools Initiative Curriculum Page – Resources for hands-on school environment audits on waste, paper, and climate/energy, including templates for data collection, homework assignments, and other materials and links.
- California Environmental Education Initiative’s Curricula – Curricula that meet California academic standards and environmental education principles and concepts, developed by inter-agency group.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Planet Protectors Club 10-month Calendar Kit – Kit designed to teach children in Grades K-3 the concepts of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste. The Planet Protectors Club Calendar Kit contains a large, full-color poster for teachers or group leaders and smaller versions for each student, along with a set of stickers to track progress in completing the activities. Simple, step-by-step instructions are included for each activity, most of which take less than an hour to complete. From turning trash into treasure to identifying environmentally harmful products in the home, these hands-on activities provide 10-months of fun and education. To order the large poster (EPA530-H-06-004) and the child’s version with stickers (EPA530-H-06-005) by phone, call: 1-800-490-9198; by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by post: U.S. EPA/NSCEP, P.O. Box 42419, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45242-0419
- Green Teacher Magazine - Green Teacher Magazine helps youth educators enhance environmental and global education inside and outside of schools. Fifty pages of ideas and activities, four times a year. Also available in French and Spanish!