Impact Project

I currently teach fifth grade humanities. What this means is that the subjects that are covered are numerous, they overlap, they collide, and they require students to ponder and question. They examine global history from the 1400’s to 1865, and learn to write, read and understand nuances of language. They also take part in a service learning component called an Impact Project.

Learning About the Issues

This year I decided to challenge my fifth graders (9 – 11 yrs old) to take a deeper look at issues facing our world. I want them to become experts and find ways to implement solutions. My hope is that they will dive in, explore and find a way to make a positive difference. But first, they needed to get an idea of what is considered a ‘big issue.’ So over the course of several weeks we exploerd six big topics: endangered animals, climate change, food insecurity, water scarcity, plastic pollution and education disparity. The students have watched clips of videos and TED talks, analyzed articles, participated in simulations and held roundtable discussions. They are now beginning their independent work. Over the course of the next nine weeks they will research and explore their issue. There are benchmark check-ins to discuss challenges and frustrations with me. They will also be blogging (internally) and learning to podcast. In December they will present their findings and a proposal for how they plan to make an impact. Then January through May they will implement (so exciting!). In late May, after writing a persuasive essay on their topic, they will then present their topic, TED Talk style, to parents and administrators explaining the outcome of their project and impact.

Making an Impact Close to Home

Hands on WallTo give them a taste of giving back here at home, I introduced them to a public school about 20 minutes down the road. This school has a population made up of primarily new immigrants. They speak Farsi, Dari, Ukranian, Russian, Spanish and others. Even though many speak limited English, I thought it would be fun to start a pen pal exchange. And while we were at it, a Gently Used Clothing Drive. My students were so excited to not only be able to help, but to also reach out and start a conversation. A week ago we took our gently used clothes and headed over to the other school, and met our new friends.

After eating lunch together we pushed up our sleeves and started putting hands in paint and soon a colorful wall of friendship emerged. A bit chaotic, but I saw lots of smiles. Over the rest of the year, the students will exchange letters with their pen pals and then in May we’ll have the kids come to our school for a field day of fun games.

Impact Project

While discussing one of the big issues, ‘why girls have Educate Girls 4 Successmore barriers to education than boys in many countries around the world,’ one of my female students asked a very innocent, yet difficult to answer, question. We had just watched a short video clip “Why Educate Girls?” and she raised her hand and asked, “Why aren’t girls going to school? We are just as smart and capable as boys.” So matter-of-fact, with zero hesitation. At first I struggled to find an answer that was appropriate for a class of ten year olds. I stumbled and grasped at ideas as I tried to rationalize the issue. Finally, it dawned on me that this was exactly what I was hoping they would ponder – these questions that are so difficult to answer. So, I threw it back to the class. “Why do you think there is education disparity?”

At first there was a lot of, “Well, because…” and then their voices would trail off. It was hard to come up with a legitemate argument. But eventually there were some responses around religions or cultural customs or physical strength etc. It’s a tough question.

I know many of the questions they will ask will be unanswerable, no matter what the topic of focus. But my hope is that even without an exact answer, they are inspired to make positive change, to take action and make their voices heard.

Educate Girls

Interested in helping girls get an education? Here are four, of many, amazing organizations you can support:

Impact
Red Sweater Project: www.redsweaterproject.org Friends of Pimpollo: http://friendsofpimpollo.org/ Educate Girls: https://www.educategirls.ngo/ One Girl: https://www.onegirl.org.au/

 

Anti-Plastic: Compostable Sandwich Bags

Are you anti-plastic? Me too! But my snacks needed support. While I have found alternatives (etee wraps are great), sometimes you just want to have a little zipper-bag to make life easy. Scouring the plastic bag aisle for something un-plastic one day, what did my eyes behold? BioBag! Eureka – a compostable bag at the grocery store! To make it even more exciting – it is resealable with a zipper.anti-plastic

BioBag is a company that is trying to revolutionize the “plastic” industry. They not only have retail sized bags that compost (in earth positive ways), they also make compostable products for commercial use such as grocery store bags and weed suppressing agricultural films. This is really exciting.

Anti-Plastic!

For the discerning sandwich maker and nibbles connoisseur, they have sizes ranging from snack to gallon! Even the “resealable zipper” is compostable! Just keep the box in a cool drawer, don’t put hot liquids in them and they will last up to a year. They are made “from the starches of GMO free crops.” Click HERE to check out the details.

Pretty Litter

Pretty Litter for Cats

Are you tired of lugging heavy litter in from the store? Sick of dumping clumps of clay into your garbage? Cat litter does not have to be this awful. Thank goodness for Pretty Litter. This company has found an earth positive solution to the monthly (if not weekly) dreaded cleaning and replacing of our furry friend’s poop and pee.

Pretty Litter LogoPretty Litter is unique in that it is made out of super absorbent silica microgels infused with a “formulation of indicators to help you monitor your cat’s urine.” The only thing you have to do during the month is scoop out the hardened feces. No smell, super light, one bag lasts a whole month (with one cat) and is shipped to your door. I have been using Pretty Litter for about a year now and I just love it. The company is looking into creating a bag that is more biodegradeable which I hope comes soon. The rest of the packaging is cardboard.

This stuff is great as it changes color if your cat is having health problems. My cats had no issue adjusting to it when I introduced it to them. It doesn’t cling to their paws as much as well, so I don’t see the litter all over my house which is super nice. I have been so impressed with this product that I asked to be an affiliate of the company. This simply means that I get a bit of commission if you purchase through my link. So if you are interested – click HERE or on the image in the side bar. Enjoy – I sure do.

Compostable

Compostable Cell Phone Covers!

While working to open my eyes to all the plastic in my life, I noticed that my cell phone was wrapped snuggly in a cover of teal blue plastic. Ugh. But I am thrilled to say I have an alternative that is seriously cool! Never heard of compostable cell phone cover?

Pela Case to the rescue!

Cell Phone Cover by Pela100% compostable, made from flax. Its flexible, durable, and smooth. The company works with great organizations such as Save the Waves World Wildlife Fund and Amnesty International.

Check out this great video that shows you why you need to ditch the plastic and go flaxstic!

Toothpowder to the Rescue

The Dirt ToothpowderI am loving toothpowder as a new way to scrub my teeth. They not only feel super smooth afterwards, but the taste in my mouth is minty fresh!

Company: The Dirt is a woman-owned company that cares about ridding our morning routines from toxins and plastic. A US based company that is focused on keeping Americans employed as well as helping the earth.

Product: I tried the trial size of the “Super Mint Toothpowder” and it is great. The glass jar with metal top is filled with a greyish powder. It will keep me brushing for six weeks. Super easy to use. Simply wet your (non-plastic 🙂 brush, tap off the excess water, dip into the powder, tap again (why be wasteful) and then gently scrub away.

The large (glass jar) size will last up to six months. My current toothpaste costs about $5 every two months. The Dirt Toothpowder costs about $5 per month – so a bit more, but the upside is that it contains only natural ingredients, zero flouride, does not have soy/gluten/corn, and is woman owned. Give it try!

etee food wraps

etee Food Wraps & Bags

etee food wraps & bagsDitch the plastic!

etee creates beeswax and organic cotton and hemp wraps and bags. I have been using them since last summer and I love them. They are super easy to use, pliable, reusable, and when they wear out (after about 150 uses), you simply cut them up and put them in the compost.

Company: Family owned out of Toronto, Canada. They are big outdoor people and kept running into plastic – even while kayaking. So etee was born: everything touches everything else.

They use only organic cotton and hemp blends. The dyes used are free of heavy metals and are non-toxic. They manufacture their products with little water use and recycle a good portion of what they do use. They are certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard – so they are a socially responsible company too.

The wraps and bags come in three sizes. You work with the warmth of your hands to roll and seal them. Cleaning is easy – just take a soft sponge and run cool water over them and hang to dry. Just don’t put raw meat in them and do not put in freezer. The company is now coming out with a line of satchels as well. Give them a try – ditch the plastic!