Anytime Lesson Plan: Green Classroom Audit
In this activity, students understand that their actions in the classroom can affect the environment, and work together to establish new environmentally-friendly practices for the classroom.
In this activity, students will:
- evaluate how “green” their classroom is.
- understand that their actions in the classroom can affect the environment.
- work together to establish new environmentally-friendly practices for the classroom.
- Teacher Information Sheet (one)
- Student Information Sheet (one per student)
- Classroom Audit Question Sheet (one per group of students)
- Classroom Audit Score Sheet #1 (one per group)
- Classroom Audit Score Sheet #2 (one per group)
- Goal Sheet (one)
- daylighting: using natural light instead of artificial light to light indoor spaces.
- fluorescent bulbs: energy-efficient light bulbs that use ¼ the amount of energy used by traditional light bulbs. Includes CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs).
- incandescent bulbs: traditional light bulbs; less energy-efficient than CFLs.
- standby power: the electricity used by many appliances while they are turned off.
- Review the Teacher Information Sheet to help you start thinking about ways your classroom operations could change.
- Make copies of the Student Information Sheet, Classroom Audit Question Sheet, Classroom Audit Score Sheet #1, and Classroom Audit Score Sheet #2. Note that there are two slightly different versions of the Question Sheet. One involves calculating percentages in two questions and is intended for older students. The other does not involve any calculations and is intended for younger students. Choose the version that is appropriate for your students. (Note that the same Score Sheet works for both versions of the Question Sheet.)
- Choose ten of the questions on the Question Sheet for your students to answer. Skip questions that are impossible for you to answer (for example, if you do not have a sink in your classroom, skip the questions on water). If students do not answer exactly ten questions, the results on the score sheet will not work out.
- Explain to your students that they will be examining the way they do things in the classroom and figuring out the impact that their actions have on the environment.
- Hand out the Student Information Sheet. Discuss with students the ways that our actions in each of these categories affect the environment. These connections are often not obvious to students at first glance. You can use the Teacher Information Sheet to guide your discussion.
Part One: Classroom Audit #1.
- Tell your students which 10 questions they will be answering. Students will work together in groups to answer the questions. You may want to assign each group two or three specific questions to answer. Alternatively, each group could answer all of the questions, then the results from each group could be compared to see whether the answers were consistent.
- Give students time to figure out and record their answers.
- Show students how to use the score sheet. Help them add up their scores on Score Sheet #1 and make sure the results are accurate.
- Write the results on the Goal Sheet under “Classroom Audit #1.” Post the goal sheet in an area where students can see it.
- Discuss the results with your students.
- How do they feel about their score?
- What areas do they see in the audit that could be improved? Are there certain questions that are lowering their score?
Part Two: Greening classroom operations.
- As a class, decide on a goal for the audit score. For example, the goal could be to move up one category (e.g. from “Silver” to “Gold”) or to improve their score by 10 points (e.g. from 65 to 75). Choose a goal that seems fairly feasible.
- Write the goal on the Goal Sheet.
- Have students work in groups to brainstorm ideas for things they can do to improve the audit score. If there are certain areas that were especially low-scoring on the audit, tell students to focus on those areas. You can use examples from the Teacher Information Sheet to start students’ thought processes. The ideas on the info sheet are only meant as a starting point—let your students be creative and come up with their own ideas.
- Have each group report their ideas to the class. Write each suggestion on the board.
- When all ideas are up on the board, decide as a class which three to implement.
- Tell them that three of these ideas will become new rules of classroom operations.
- You may want to start by having students eliminate options that they feel would be too difficult or might not improve the audit score enough.
- When the list has been narrowed down a bit, students can vote for the ideas they think are best.
- Remind them before they vote that they will be committed to carrying out these ideas, so they should think carefully about what they really want to do.
- As the teacher, you hold veto powers and can eliminate ideas that would be too difficult or expensive.
- Write the three winning ideas on the Goal Sheet. These will act as new rules of classroom operations. Make sure that this is posted in a visible area to remind students of their goal.
- Put the new rules into practice!
Part Three: Classroom Audit #2.
- One month after starting the new classroom operations rules, repeat the audit.
- Give each group of students a blank copy of the classroom audit questions and give them time to figure out the answers. Important: have students answer the same ten questions that were answered in the first audit. Otherwise the results will not be comparable.
- Have students use Score Sheet #2 to add up their scores. Check their work and make sure the results are accurate.
- Write the new results on the Goal Sheet under “Classroom Audit #2.”
Discuss the results of the second audit with your students.
- Was the class goal met? If so, this is a cause for celebration! If not, make sure that your students don’t feel too bad about it. Remind them that change can be a gradual process and it can take time for us to reach our goals.
- If the goal was not met, ask students what they want to do next. Should they try again with the same rules? Do they want to try different ideas for classroom operations rules? Do they want to set a less ambitious goal?
- If the goal was met, ask students what they want to do next. Do they want to keep using the rules that they created to reach the goal? Do they want to set a new goal to keep improving? Or are they happy with their score as it is?
- Point out that, while building a new “green” school is an exciting (and expensive) way to lessen negative environmental impacts, there are also simpler and faster ways to be a greener class. Congratulate them on their improvements, however large or small.
- Additional informational resources are listed on the Teacher Information Sheet.
California Content Standards
Science: Earth Sciences
- 3c. Students know how to identify resources from Earth that are used in everyday life and understand that many resources can be conserved.
Science: Earth Sciences
- 3e. Students know rock, water, plants, and soil provide many resources, including food, fuel, and building materials, that humans use.
Mathematics: Number Sense
- 2.1. Find the sum or difference of two whole numbers between 0 and 10,000.
English and Language Arts: Reading Comprehension
- 2.7. Follow simple multiple-step written instructions (e.g. how to assemble a product or play a board game).
Science: Earth Sciences
- 3d. Students know that the amount of fresh water located in rivers, lakes, underground sources, and glaciers is limited and that its availability can be extended by recycling and decreasing the use of water.
While it is rare to get the chance to rebuild your school into a true green facility, there are plenty of smaller actions you can take to reduce the impact that your classroom has on the environment. In this activity, students will conduct an audit of classroom operations to find out how “green” their classroom is. They will then decide on changes that they can make as a class to improve their green classroom score and lessen their negative impacts on the environment.
The connections between our daily activities and the environment are not always obvious to students (or even to adults). Use the Teacher Information Sheet to fill in your knowledge for each of the categories covered in the audit.