ELT Footprint: who? what? why?

if not me

ELT Footprint is a blog is for people from all walks of the ELT world. We’ll be posting about initiatives, projects, campaigns, victories and ideas about how to reduce our climate/carbon/plastic footprints across the ELT profession. We’ll also be sharing links to teaching resources and materials designed to raise awareness and, more importantly, to prompt action. There are some excellent resources out there so we need to make sure they get as wide a reach as possible. Get in touch if you’d like to write a guest blog post or you have some resources you’d like us to share and please spread the word among teachers, trainers, writers, publishers, language school owners and anyone else who will listen. We’re all in this together!

What a buzz!

beeELT Footprint is three weeks old but it feels like it’s been around a lot longer. We’re overwhelmed by the buzz over on the Facebook page. We’re delighted with the response of members and your generosity in sharing lesson plans, ideas, interesting news articles and stories about what’s going on in classrooms around the world to highlight the climate crisis and be proactive in changing habits and minds.

Behind the scenes we are in discussions with publishers and conference organisers too and we’re pleased to say that the response from these quarters has, so far, been very positive. Not just idle promises but a sincere wish to discuss ideas and implement change with many plans in the pipeline. We aren’t surprised by this. After all, teachers, trainers, authors and publishers are all people. And we all live in, and care about, this beautiful planet Earth.

As these discussions progress we’ll let you all know about collaborations, initiatives, projects and policy changes that are taking place. Some of you might want to get involved and some of you might be prompted to start up a project of your own.

Have a great day everyone and keep buzzing!

The recycling quiz

We’re very happy to welcome Anita Demitroff, a teacher and trainer from Galicia in the North of Spain, as our first guest blogger with a project-based lesson plan for young learners.

A Hands-on Recycling Activity

Context: a language school in NW Spain and the secondary and older primary groups it provides classroom assistants for in the morning

Timing: This activity can run well beyond a 50-minute class because students may do research and presentation as a follow-up.  Alternatively, it can be a hands-on warmer to set the scene for a unit on the environment.

Preparation: It is easy to accumulate and then clean all kinds of rubbish that can be placed into a basket.  What may be too disgusting to handle, such as a used toothbrush or comb, can go into a (recycled) see-through plastic container sealed with sello tape.

For each object, there is a question written on pieces of scrap paper.  These questions are rolled up and attached with clips and clothes pins; sometimes they are written in felt-tip directly onto the container.

The questions are often open-ended, leading to a communicative context that is rich in modals.  For example, can we flush these wipes down the toilet?  Should we flush them? According to the indications on the packet, the wipes are flushable.  However, many water treatment plant experts argue that these wipes clog their systems.

Some questions have a more definite answer.  Soiled paper can’t go into the paper recycling bin, especially if it has been in contact with food. It can ruin a batch of paper ready to be recycled. A used takeaway pizza box is disgusting to have on hand; however, it drives home this idea.  The pizza box is the one item in this quiz that I usually don’t sanitise before I put it into the basket.   

This project can lead to web quests and contact with service providers in the local community. That is part of the challenge: thinking about how to chase up certain points. Moreover, recycling regulations vary from one municipality to the next.   And perhaps some questions aren’t so straightforward.  What should we do with old plastic toys?  Can they have a second life? What will happen to them if we do put them into the general bin?

Here are some of the objects we looked at: sequins from clothes, craft foam, all kinds plastic containers, old kitchen- and glassware, Styrofoam (particularly troublesome for recyclers), empty glue sticks, old pens, toilet wipes, toothbrushes, magazines, bottle lids, combs, packaging that is a mixture of card and plastic and food boxes. The list can go on.  Where there is no definite answer, we can speculate or see what happens in other places.  Here, we are making hypotheses, doing research, debating and considering what to do when we reach a cul-de-sac with a line of research.

Our colleagues in the Centro Británico de Viana do Castelo in Portugal had their students upload video tourist guides in English.  Our students could do the same with the results of their research, letting others know about what they discovered about hard-to-recycle objects.   An on-line guide could encourage others to consider these questions. This is a good case of where the process – looking for the information- is more fulfilling than the product- finding a specific answer.  Indeed, many objects remain below the recycling radar and this dilemma is itself a cause for concern.

1000 members!

Just over two weeks since our group was launched on Facebook on May 24 and we’ve just hit 1000 members!  A big thank you to everyone involved for your continuing enthusiasm and commitment. The response has been overwhelming – in so many different ways. Sometimes the flood of notifications has been dizzying but each and every conversation has brought something new to the table.

So what have we achieved so far?  Here are a few statistics from the Facebook group.

7.4K posts, comments and reactions

297 posts

Peak time 22.00 CEST / 21.00 BST / 20.00 GMT

Two of our top posts have been calls to action

We have members from Barcelona to Brisbane, Manchester to Minsk.

On May 31, celebrating our one week-versary, we launched our blog with a post from Katherine Bilsborough.  This is only our third blog post but we have also added 20 pages with a range of resources and materials. Three of these pages are homes to three of our on-going projects:  a charter for a greener classroom – guidelines to share and discuss with trainees on certificate and diploma course both on and offline; examples of good practice in conferences and other ELT events; suggestions for greening conferences.  Three pages celebrate key dates: June 5 World Environment Day, June 8 World Oceans Day, June 15 Nature Photography Day. Two further pages house links to a variety of lessons plans and materials as well as useful links. All these pages are work in progress, and we add to them as and when we can.  If you feel like joining in, just let us know!

What’s next?  Basically it’s up to you!  We have a few more projects bubbling away in the background (watch this space to find out more!) and lots of interesting conversations and initiatives going on behind the scenes.  One area we’re exploring is drawing up a list of examples of good practice in school management, another is drawing up a comprehensive checklist to support conference and event organisers (this one will be going public very soon, we’ll announce it here and on the group).  

All these projects have grown directly from conversations in the group and have been fueled by volunteers behind the scenes and contributions in the various threads.  If there are any projects you’d like to be part of, or something you feel very strongly about and want to find like-minded people to support you, please feel free to use this blog, or the Facebook group, to get involved.

Introducing our on-going projects

The ELT Footprint group is an incredibly dynamic and committed group of people who believe in the power of people coming together to coordinate efforts and focus on effective action in specific spheres.

The projects we’re sharing here on the blog are the fruit of posts and conversations on our Facebook page. Some have been kicked off by a small group who have formed in one of the many threads and then opened up to the whole group. Others provide a space for collecting thoughts, suggestions and calls-to-action so that they don’t get lost in the many busy conversations.

This blog came into existence to host these projects. Any member of the group can suggest or contribute to any of the projects. It’s a very organic process. Hopefully it gives everyone a chance to contribute where they want to and feel that they can.

At the moment we have three open projects which are calling for further comments and contributions ( click on the Work in Progress tab above to see the full list of projects). Click on the links below to find out more. The links are currently set to view only. If you’d like to contribute, please leave a comment below or send an email to the address on the About page.

1 Suggestions for conference organisers

2 Good practice: events and conferences

3 Tips for Trainers