First of all, Happy New Year, everyone! Congrats to Jason, who is a fifth-grade teacher in Tyngsboro, MA, for winning the writer's workshop book basket! Jason, please fill out the contact form on my website and be sure to include your school address so we can send the books.
There is no gift like time. December break provides time to sleep, time to be with loved ones, and for teachers who write, time to create.
This vacation was unexpectedly productive for me. I’m putting that in print because I spend way too much time thinking about goals I didn’t accomplish instead of celebrating goals I do accomplish. More on corraling negative thoughts another time!
Anyway, I finished a draft of a nonfiction manuscript I’ve been working on since early fall. I talked about the seed idea for this manuscript in my October 23rd post Get Angry. In order to be able to write the manuscript, I did a ton of research. Check out the photos below to see some of the sources I read.
Sometimes though, the information one is looking for, is hard to find. In National Geographic’s "Why Carrying Your Own Fork and Spoon Helps Solve the Plastic Crisis," they state the sobering fact that in the U.S. we throw away one million plastic utensils every day. But I’m not only focusing on the problem in my manuscript, I’m focusing on solutions.
One can research solutions forever because humans are constantly coming up with creative ways to solve problems. While researching creative solutions people have devised to cut down on consuming plastic utensils, I came across this article on two middle schools in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Since I’m a teacher and I’m from the blustery Midwest, my interest meter shot sky high.
The two schools wrote a grant to replace plastic cutlery and bowls with stainless steel utensils and reusable bowls. They saved their district $23,000 over a three-year period, prevented 6,712 pounds of trash, reduced greenhouse gases by 77% and decreased water consumption by tens of thousands of gallons. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency awarded the grant.
Wheels whirring, I typed in Massachusetts Pollution Control Agency. That agency doesn’t exist but the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) does exist and guess what? They provide grants to schools that want to replace, “reusable dish-ware… to reduce single use service ware.” The grant is called the Reduce, Reuse, Repair Micro-Grant, and it awards up to $5,000 a year to non-profit organizations looking to make changes that benefit the environment.
I plan to apply for a 2020 micro-grant to replace our school’s plastic cutlery with reusable stainless steel flatware. In 2019, the DEP posted their grant guidelines in March. Hopefully, the DEP will post the 2020 guidelines in March as well which will give my class and me plenty of time to write the grant before the school year ends.
One day at the end of writer’s workshop, of my students who struggles with reading and writing stated, “I never liked writing before, but now I understand it has a purpose.”
Show your students writing has a purpose. Apply for a grant from your state’s department of environmental protection to replace your school’s plastic cutlery. If your state doesn’t have similar grants to those available in Minnesota and Massachusetts, write to your legislators asking them to make micro-grants available for your state.
Chalk and Ink
Chalk and Ink is a biweekly podcast that publishes on Fridays throughout the school year. Learn how teachers who write and writers who teach combine craft moves to create outstanding products for their students and readers. Download Chalk and Ink wherever you get your favorite podcasts.