EcoSchools Newsletter March 2018
Stay connected--follow us on twitter and share your great environmental initiatives with us!  @EcoSchoolsTDSB
Earth Hour in our schools: Friday, March 23rd 2-3pm
EcoSchools Section 1, Question 1.6; Section 5, Questions 5.3, 5.5; Section 6 Questions 6.5, 6.6

To raise awareness about climate change, the Toronto District School Board is once again holding its own special Earth Hour on Friday, March 23rd, from 2:00-3:00 pm in advance of the annual global Earth Hour. For at least that one hour we challenge all schools and offices to be as electricity-free as they can manage. 

Why bother turning out the lights for an hour? Isn't it just symbolic? Yes...and no. Perhaps, WWF's website puts it best,  "Turning off lights for one hour won't solve climate change. But the strong collective message generated by people around the world turning off their lights together helps WWF create the political space and demand for the large-scale change that will".

The underlying goal remains to raise awareness about the link between climate change and the unthinking use of resources. Have you tried an Earth Hour Electricity Walk? Or check out Ontario EcoSchools' Earth Hour campaign kit for other initiatives you can do in your school and use our Earth Hour checklist as a reminder to save energy and spread awareness!
In past years, schools, students and staff have been very creative in finding ways to reduce their use of electricity. Help beat last year's electricity reduction of 28% during the TDSB Earth Hour! These results can only be achieved when everyone pitches in.

Don't forget to help your community go dark on Saturday, March 24th between 8:30-9:30 pm,  when the rest of the world will be turning off its lights! For more ideas go to the global  and  Canadian Earth Hour websites .

Environmental Education AQ Course--Parts 1, 2 & 3
EcoSchools Section 5: Questions 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, and 5.7

Want to expand your knowledge and practice of environmental education? 

The TDSB has partnered with OISE to offer university certification courses in Environmental Education to Early Childhood Educators, elementary and secondary teachers. These interdisciplinary AQ courses take an inquiry-based, experiential approach to explore what it means to learn about, for, and in the environment using both in-class and on-line learning.
TDSB participants are eligible to receive a subsidy after completion of each course. 

Environmental education is central to teaching and learning in the 21st century; climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation are all pres sing contemporary societal issues that require an educational response. This course provides an engaging introduction to teaching and learning in environmental education for both elementary and secondary teachers through a combination of lectures, workshops, outdoor and experiential learning, field trips and guest speakers. It offers maximum flexibility for participants' learning needs through a blended course format (in-class and on-line hours).

Spring Session:  Part 1 is being offered at the U of T, OISE campus and taught by instructor Ron Ballentine (Thursdays in class from April 5th - June 21st from 5:15 pm - 9:15 pm and 2 Saturdays - April 21st, and June 9th from 9:00am - 1:00 pm, plus 44 hours of online learning). 

Register  with OISE by March 27th, 2018.

Summer Session: Part's 1, 2, and 3 are being offered at the University of Toronto St. George Campus. Part 1 is taught by Hilary Inwood, OISE Lecturer, Part 2 is taught by Pam Miller, TDSB EcoSchools Instructional Leader and Part 3 is taught by Beth Lisser, VP David Suzuki SS.

Delivery: 125 Hours Blended Part 1 and 2: In-Class July 3rd - 13th Monday - Friday,  9:00 am-3:30 pm Online July 3rd - 20th Part 3: In Class July 5th - 17th Monday - Friday, 9:00am-3:30pm Online July 3rd - 20th.

Register with OISE by June 26th, 2018.

Contact to ensure a spot on the TDSB subsidy list.
March 28th & 29th: FREE Professional Learning Institute for Secondary Educators
EcoSchools Sections 5: Questions 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5

Climate Change Challenges: Educators Exploring the Opportunities

Learning for a Sustainable Future presents this two day focused PD experience for TDSB secondary teachers. LSF will facilitate collaborative knowledge-building and help educatorsto pursue the knowledge and skills that will position them to be effective facilitators of climate change learning.

Throughout the two days, we will walk the talk and model inquiry methodology.
Grade 9-12 teachers who wish to explore climate change challenges and opportunities and learn how authentic inquiry is being applied to address expectations in geography, science, environmental science and other subjects. School administrators and system leaders who wish to support transformative inquiry-based learning for engaged citizenship.

Dates: Wednesday, March 28th and Thursday, March 29th
Location: West Education Office, 1 Civic Centre Court
Time: 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
Cost: FREE for TDSB staff ($350 cost is being covered by the TDSB Sustainability Office)
Register:  Key to Learn
Questions: Contact Pam Miller
Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) Info Sessions
OPAL Program Information Session:

Earth Day Canada has partnered with the TDSB to provide schools with an in-depth training for improving outdoor play. 
The Outdoor Play and Learning program (OPAL) originated in the U.K, where it has helped to improve play at over 240 schools, and is recognized as a best practice by academics and public  health agencies addressing the childhood health crisis in the U.K.
The OPAL training program is a 10 month collaborative, community consultation process, directed by an OPAL mentor from Earth Day Canada working closely with a Lead Team at the school.  The Lead Team consists of a school administrator, educators, support staff, parents and facilities staff. In a series of meetings, the Lead Team will examine play, its importance to child development and wellness, and will work with the OPAL mentor to answer practical challenges.  They will steward the development of a school play policy, and an action plan to improve and enrich play provision. With the help of their OPAL mentor, they will take responsibility for communicating the program and creating collaboration on a school-wide basis. Topics covered will include improving play supervision through risk/benefit management, introducing loose parts for recess play and environmental site improvements. 
Earth Day Canada will deliver the OPAL program to 30+ schools, each year, over the next 3 years. Schools will be selected based on an application process.
Are you interested in becoming an OPAL school? Attending an OPAL information session is the first step in the application process. School administrators should attend to gain a greater understanding of the program and the commitments involved. Please invite a lead teacher to attend the session with you.
Please RSVP your attendance at one of the following events  to
Information Session 1: West Location

Date:  Wednesday, March 21st
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 pm
Location: 1 Civic Centre Court - Demonstration Classroom

Information Session 2: East Location

Date:   Wednesday, April 4th
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 pm
Location: 85 Shorting Rd. Large Conference Room
Clean Toronto Together annual school clean-up day: Register your school by April 3rd!
EcoSchools Section 4: Question 4.4; Question Section 6: Question 6.5

On Friday, April 20th at 2:00 p.m. students, staff, and parents from across Toronto are encouraged to help rejuvenate our city's green spaces by picking up litter in their schoolyard, neighbourhood park, or local community. 
Register your school today and celebrate Earth Day by joining over 550 schools who are helping to keep our City clean and green! Y ou'll be amazed at what we can accomplish in as little as 20 minutes!  ( Note:  Schools may opt to do their clean-up event at any time).

Be one of the first 500 schools to register your cleanup event and you'll receive a free school cleanup kit with 50 litter bags, 100 blue recycling bags and a box of gloves. Supplies are limited. Registration closes April 3rd. Learn more at

To increase participation at the TDSB, we're challenging each Learning Network to encourage schools to participate and collect as much waste as they can in their local community.

Campaign Incentive for Learning Networks:

First Place: three water bottle refill stations to the first Learning Network that has 100% of their school sites participate and provides photo evidence of the amount of waste collected (total number of bags or total weight).
Second Place: two water bottle refill stations to the second Learning Network that has 100% of their school sites participate and provides photo evidence of the amount of waste collected (total number of bags or total weight).
Third Place: one water bottle refill station to the third Learning Network that has 100% of their school sites participate and provides photo evidence of the amount of waste collected (total number of bags or total weight).

*Schools can provide photo evidence by tweeting @EcoSchoolsTDSB using the hashtag #cleantoronto (or email Water Refill Stations will be installed during the 2018/19 school year.  Superintendents will select the schools that will receive the stations.

Questions: Contact
City of Toronto Earth Month Clothing Drive

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Clean Toronto Together,  t he City is supporting the TDSB  and Bag2School partnership on an Earth Month Clothing Drive. Bag2School is the official approved vendor for all textile diversion campaigns at TDSB schools.

Why is textile diversion important? 
The City's Long Term Waste Management Strategy puts priority on reducing waste and minimizing the amount sent to landfill, including textiles. The average Toronto household unnecessarily throws out an estimated 13 kilograms (29 pounds) of unwanted clothing and other textiles every year. Your school can help to keep this waste out of landfill by holding a clothing drive.  

How can your school help?
Starting in April, TDSB schools are encouraged to hold a clothing drive, with students and teachers collecting and donating unwanted textiles (e.g., clothing, shoes, sheets, towels) at the school. The process to join is simple and outcome is very rewarding.

How will your school benefit?
You'll benefit the environment, raise awareness of waste and textile diversion, and receive $200/ton from Bag2School for the items you collect. You'll also have an opportunity to win a free water refill station for your school (details below).

How to participate in the Earth Month Clothing Drive:
  1. Visit Bag2School  and complete the online booking form. Bag2School will contact you to confirm a pick up date and provide free promotional materials. 
  2. Promote the drive to your students and families. 
  3. Use the clear blue bags in your Clean Toronto Together school cleanup kit for your textile collection. 
  4. On your arranged pickup date in April or May, Bag2School will pick up your textile donation. 
  5. Bag2School will pay you for the total weight of donated textiles ($200/ton).
Win a water refill station for your school!
Signup and host a clothing drive between April 1st - May 15th, and your school will be entered into a contest to win a free water refill station. Prizes will be awarded to the top four schools that collect the most textiles per student (total weight of textiles collected divided by number of participating students). Installation of the Water Refill Stations will take place during the 2018/19 school year. Questions? Contact

For more information about Bag2School please contact Aaron Curran, 416-762-9415,
World Water Day: Nature for Water
 EcoSchools Section 5: Question 5.3, 5.4, 5.5
World Water Day is held annually on March 22nd as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The weeks leading up to the day provide an opportunity to celebrate and educate students about the importance of water in everyday life. 

The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ' Nature for Water' - exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21 st century.  Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education and livelihoods.

Ontario Ecoschools has produced a  learning resource for Grade 8 classes that provides tips and ideas on how to celebrate World Water Day or Week at your school. In this learning activity, students explore water conservation and the positive and negative impacts that human activity has on natural resources. Students then design a media campaign to raise awareness about the importance of conservation. Also check out their Water Awareness and Action Campaign kit for water related topics that impact our schools.
The UN World Water Day website showcases other great ideas for youth both at school and at home.
Green Thumbs 
Urban Trees from Seed is a science-curriculum-linked program for Grade 3 students,promoting increasing our city's tree canopy and biodiversity within species. Students will collect seed from nearby native trees, plant the trees from seed and nurture the seedlings. In addition, students will learn the name of the tree in a local indigenous language. A goal of the project is to locate the trees to their permanent positions with the help of the students. 

Green Thumbs has funding to offer this program to 
ten schools free of charge. Please  contact if you are interested. 

Preference will be given to schools that our low on the LOI, have a fenced area available for the tree nursery, and can commit to the project for 3 years.
PlantBest Fundraiser for Schools
Looking for a new fundraising idea this spring? TDSB approved vendor, PlantBest Inc. has an educational, fun and eco-friendly  program that consists of easy "Grow Your Own" seed starter kits that include seeds, soil, and biodegradable coconut coir pots.  The kits have been designed to work in small spaces as well as larger gardens. They are great for container planting and can be grown year round. Feel good about promoting a product that uses renewable, biodegradable, and organic materials that encourages healthy eating habits! Prices for each item start as low as $3.00 and schools will be able to retain 50% of the funds they raise! 
Proceeds raised from this campaign are a natural fit for funding school gardens, food literacy, and science workshops linked to the curriculum. 

This fundraising opportunity has already been adopted by the Muirhead PS community. Organizers at this school were thrilled to offer a spring garden fundraiser that was accessible to all families in their community which includes a large proportion of families living
in apartments and condos. At Birch Cliff Heights PS and Norman Ingram PS, fundraisers are planned to coincide with Mother's Day.  At Northern SS and Etobicoke CI, the EcoTeams at these schools were pleased to organize fundraisers using such a sustainable product to fund their school gardens.

If you are interested in learning more about program, please contact Mary Jo Tamin at or 416-220-6957.

More information is also available at