Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Primary School Visits in 2014

Since September I've been visiting primary schools talking to children about all the different things we can do to green up our daily lives just by making a few small changes to our habits.

Having visited a number of schools now, I've found it works best when the children have had a chance to read some of my book before the visit.  So learning as I go along, I've planned to send out boxes of books to schools on the first day of next term for those already booked in.  Visits will start in the third week of term.   For term 4 I will send books out at the beginning of February.

Another thing I learnt is that children do love to have their books signed, so please do allow some time for this if the children get to keep their books.

If you would like a school visit next term please email me at anna@dustbindiet.com.

Visits are free to schools purchasing a box of 30 books @ £180 which includes postage.

There will be a poster competition at the end of March for all participating primary schools.  Details of how to enter will accompany your books.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Neurodidactics - The Key to Good Practice in Education?

Thanks to my involvement with LEEF (London Environmental Educators' Forum) I have the privilege of taking part in the “iTongue: Our Multilingual Future” workshop in Stuttgart at the end of this week.

“iTongue: Our Multilingual Future” aims to bring together scientific knowledge about how people learn and  new mobile learning programmes (Apps) to help meet socio-educational as well as labour-market needs arising from demographic change and industry-migration in Europe.

That brings me to explain why I'm sitting on the floor in front of a log fire, candles burning, with my children's long ago abandoned coloured pencils and some bits of scrap paper - old handouts from past training courses from the days when we generally only used one side of the paper for fear that our printer would jam up if we tried to print on the other side.

I'm learning about neurodidactics. And I'm hoping that by applying all the techniques that I'm learning about I'll have a deeper understanding of the subject and will be able to recall the relevant information promptly and painlessly for ever more.  If only I could say the same about my German grammar!

The thing about mind maps is they only really help the person who made them, but if the pretty colours in the picture have piqued your interest, then you could always sit down with you own candles and coloured pencils and have a read about this fascinating and important science.  Here's a link: http://didactic-pilot.eu/images/pdf/EN/en_neurodidactic%20complete.pdf

And why the candles?  The clue's in the picture...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Year 5s enjoying their green curriculum

In September I visited Henry Cavendish Primary School in Balham to talk to the children about my book, 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free.

We started the day with an assembly for Year 2 through to Year 6 where we did a landfill bin audit and then talked about waste and how to reduce it.

After the assembly I spent an hour with each Year 5 class, playing games based on my book and talking through the children's own ideas about the simple everyday things they can do to live cleaner and greener for free.

The children had been working with my book across various areas of the curriculum and it was lovely to see the results displayed on the wall.  Here's a taster of some of the posters they've produced.

The children told me about the wormery, where their fruit peel gets eaten and turned into compost.  They explained about their eco-warriors, who go round each classroom and check that lights, screens and computers have been correctly turned off, and that the correct recycling bins have been used.  Each class is monitored to ensure they are putting into practice all the green measures they can and progress is reported and celebrated to keep everyone on their toes.

For me, it was great to see my book in use in the classroom and as well as seeing the literacy work they had been doing, I heard about the plans for drama sessions, science sessions and the children had even asked to be able to work with some of the maths.

101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free gives an insight into the science and maths of going green.  Although aimed principally at Key Stage 3, and therefore challenging for primary level, it just shows that where there's a will there's a way and when children are keen to do something, they will rise to the challenge.

For more information about primary school talks and school discounts for books please email me directly at anna@dustbindiet.com.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Landfill Bin Survey

We start the Dustbin Diet with a Landfill bin survey and it has been no surprise to find that over 80% of students thought they filled their landfill bin every fortnight.  We clearly have work to do!

Students also reported that although there were recycling bins around the site they felt that most students were more likely to put recyclable rubbish into the nearest landfill bin.  As one of our workshops was held in the canteen, we talked particularly about the signs in the canteen area where lots of the recyclable waste was generated.  All the signs encouraged students to 'Bin It'.  There was no mention of the recycling bins and what should and shouldn't go into landfill bins.  Students thought that better posters encouraging recycling and recycling bins alongside landfill bins would encourage more students to recycle and would mean less waste for the school and therefore lower waste costs.

Later this year, students will present their book to the rest of their year group and will talk about their suggestions for reducing waste in school and at home.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Year 9 Geography Students go on a Dustbin Diet

In June 2013, 60 students from the Henry Box School in Witney took part in the Dustbin Diet as part of their geography curriculum.

In year 9 students are expected to gain an "understanding that the physical and human dimensions of the environment are interrelated and together influence environmental change". They also explore "sustainable development and its impact on environmental interaction and climate change."

The students took part in activities and discussions to further their understanding of the impact of waste on the environment, why we waste, and how we can reduce waste.

We looked at the differences between dealing with food waste by composting or anaerobic digestion compared to allowing waste to go to landfill.  We also looked at the waste hierarchy and where different ways of dealing with waste fitted into it.

An important part of the Dustbin Diet is looking at 'change management'.  Thanks to some game cooperation of the teachers and teaching assistants, we looked at what happened when change is not managed in suitably sized chunks that people can cope with.  By contrast, applying a few easy principles of change management, students were also able to see and feel what that was like too.  Armed with this experience, the students were able to understand how best to bring about changes to the waste management within the school.

The focus of the course then moved to producing their own book of 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free.

The book is available to buy through the school.

The Dustbin Diet is a fun and informative way of providing learning activities and information that meet the geography curriculum aims for key stage 3.

"Geographical enquiry encourages questioning, investigation and critical thinking about issues affecting the world and people’s lives, now and in the future."

"Geography inspires pupils to become global citizens by exploring their own place in the world, their values and their responsibilities to other people, to the environment and to the sustainability of the planet."

Source for curriculum information:

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Out Now! The First School Edition of 101 Ways

The first school edition of 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free is now published and the school took delivery of their first order just in time for the summer holidays!

Here's a taste of some of the tips the students came up with.

Appropriate for the hot weather spell we're having, here are some of the water saving tips.

And here are some great fuel saving tips!

The Marlborough School Edition of 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free is available to buy direct from the school.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Pilot Course at Marlborough School

In May and June of 2013 I held my first Dustbin Diet course at Marlborough school, Woodstock, with around a hundred and eighty Year 8 students.

We opened the session with a thought provoking short film trailer by photographer, Chris Jordan.

Here's the link if you'd like to take a look: http://www.midwayfilm.com.

The course had been kept a big secret.  The students and their parents were told that over the next few weeks they would be involved in an exciting project. (Yes, you bet, I was ecstatic that the teachers were so excited about my project!)  But the students had no idea what the course was about and what they were going to be doing.

As they watched the film, the room was in silence.  It was very moving.  I find it difficult to watch without a tear in my eye.

So in an atmosphere you could cut with a knife, the lead teacher, Mr Easterbrook, introduced me, and told the students that we were about to embark on something very powerful together, in relation to the film they had just seen.

There was an air of intrigue.  They all looked a bit unsure of what was about to happen.  But I've found that when people are a bit baffled, they tend to be very honest.  They don't know what's happening, so they can't think too deeply about the answers they are giving.  And when that happens, it is a good time to get an honest survey.

I first of all asked everyone to raise their hand if they recycled.  I know that Oxfordshire has pretty good recycling rates, and I've even been out with the recycling team supervisor in the catchment area for Marlborough school, so it was no surprise to me that everyone put their hand up to say they recycled.

But the next thing that happened blew me away! We'd move on to talking about landfill bins.  I asked them to stand up if they also used a landfill bin.  Not surprisingly, most people stood up.  But next, I asked them to sit down if they thought that, when they put their bin out for collection each fortnight,  it was mostly full up.

I couldn't believe how many people sat down.  I think you could see horror in my eyes!  And this was in an area I knew was pretty good for recycling.  Where did they get all their rubbish?  How did they manage to fill up a wheelie bin in just two weeks?  I can't remember the last time I put my bin out.  I certainly haven't yet put it out in 2013.  So to see a whole room full of people saying that they filled their bin every two weeks - well, my face says it all, doesn't it?

You can see some of the bin surveys on the photo gallery page of the Dustbin Diet website.

So, what else did we cover on our Dustbin Diet journey?

We looked at the differences between linear economies and circular economies.  We talked about the waste hierarchy.  We used story telling to understand 'habit' and we played some games to help us understand change management.

For the whole course, each student had the loan of a copy of 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for free, and they jumped at the idea of making their own version of the book.

Over the four week period, the students spent some time discussing and thinking about how they could live cleaner and greener for free.  The talked about it in assembly and in additional PSHE lessons they played some of the games developed to encourage a closer read of the facts and figures in the book and made posters about living cleaner and greener.

They had a collection box, in which they could submit their ideas and illustrations for the tip pages and the box gradually filled up.

When Mr Easterbrook delivered the said box of tips to me over the half term break, it was like opening up a goldmine.  There were some thoughtful contributions, some excellent tips and some great art work.  Some of the contributions demonstrated the need to delve deeper into the waste hierarchy as a concept and so deeper we delved.

By the fourth and final session, we had the makings of a book and we looked at it together in its pdf form on screen.  Watching the students' faces as they saw their tip come up on screen was truly magical.  For me it was the culmination of five years of research and development, but for all of us it was also the start of something new.  A waste revolution.

Was it worth it?  Well here's something that tells me it most certainly was (or indeed is)...

Two of the students wrote reviews of the book and the workshops.  Here they are for you to see.

In my next post, I will give you a sneak preview of some of the students' fantastic work!

If you would like to run a Dustbin Diet workshop in your school, take a look at the website for more information and booking details.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Welcome to The Dustbin Diet

The Dustbin Diet is a series of workshops for secondary schools, designed principally for Years 8 and 9 at a key time in their lives, as they become increasingly independent and more and more responsible for their own decisions about how they live their lives as consumers.

The Dustbin Diet is all about reducing waste and saving resources. But it is also about behaviour change. It is thought-provoking and enlightening and designed to make students think about their habits and subconscious decisions.

In this blog I plan to track the progress of the Dustbin Diet workshops, celebrate the achievements of the students and share news and views. Please do join the conversation!