EcoSchools Newsletter | Volume 7 Issue 3 | March 2015

Read on for important application and registration deadlines, World Water Day resources, frozen Great Lakes and "grebe-mageddon", TDSB Earth Hour and School Clean-up events, Bike to School Week, EcoAction challenge, film festivals, PD opportunities, and more!


Stay connected--follow us on twitter and share your great environmental initiatives with us
April 15th: Deadline to complete and submit your certification application

Attention EcoTeams! The deadline for all schools to complete and submit the online application is Wednesday, April 15th, 2015. If you haven't already begun, please start working on the online application now so you are able to answer all of the questions in time. Please note that if you do not meet this deadline your school will not be audited this school year. 


How to complete your online application:  


Step 1: To access the online certification program (from a TDSB networked computer), go to TDSBweb>Services>EcoSchools and click on the apply online link.  Under "Already Registered" for 2014/15 sign in with your school name and password. Not sure if your school is registered? Please contact or 647-224-4382.


Step 2: Go to Program Sections and start to complete your EcoReviews - this includes all text boxes and check boxes. When completing the application it is okay to refer to initiatives that will take place after the deadline, e.g., Earth Week, EcoFairs, community clean-up or spring mulching events to name a few!


Step 3: Let your team know that the FINAL date for completing and submitting the whole application is April 15th, 2015


PLEASE REMEMBER: (1) You must complete all required text boxes and check boxes. (2) Press the Submit my application button when you are finished. Audits will take place in May and June.

Environmental AQ Course


Want to expand your knowledge and practice of environmental education? OISE has partnered with the TDSB to offer Additional Qualification courses in Environmental Education this summer. To support EcoSchools teachers, the TDSB will subsidize $400 of the cost for 50 TDSB teachers who register and successfully complete the course! This interdisciplinary AQ course will take an inquiry-based, experiential approach for elementary and secondary teachers, using both in-class and on-line learning.  Parts 1 and 2 are being offered at the U of T, St. George campus (8 days in class July 6th - 17th, 2015, no Friday classes; online done by July 23rd, 2015.)  


To register, contact to ensure a spot on the TDSB subsidy list; formal registration at OISE will begin April 13th.


Applying for Grants?

Before schools, school councils or departments can apply for grants, you must first contact the TDSB's Business Development Office. Please email any grant applications and questions to


Review the Grant Application one pager for more details.


Earth Hour in our schools: Friday, March 27th 2-3pm
EcoSchools Section 1, Question 1.6; Section 4, Questions 4.3, 4.5; Section 5, Questions 5.5 and 5.7

Earth Hour in our schools allows students to fulfill EcoSchools expectations and help to educate their community about conserving resources. What an empowering feeling that is--even the youngest student can be part of it! In some schools, students have taken the lead in organizing the campaign.  


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? You can also check out Ontario EcoSchools' Earth Hour campaign kit for other initiatives you can do in your school!

Don't forget to help Toronto go dark on Saturday, March 28th 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.

Registration now open: City of Toronto School Clean-up day is April 17th
EcoSchools Section 3: Question 3.1; Section 5: Question 5.6

On Friday, April 17th at 2 pm, students from across Toronto are encouraged to help Toronto stay clean and green. 
Team-up with students and teachers and clean your school yard or a neighbourhood park. You'll be amazed at what your team can accomplish in as little as 20 minutes! 

Register your school today! 

EcoAction Challenge: June 1st - 5th, 2015

EcoSchools Section 5: Question 5.6


To mark 13 years of TDSB EcoSchools, and help Ontario EcoSchools mark their 10 year anniversary, we are inviting all registered TDSB EcoSchools to participate in the EcoAction ChallengeJoin schools from across the province to take an EcoAction and share it for collective impact as well as a chance to win prizes!


The EcoAction Challenge is an opportunity for our schools to:

  • Celebrate 13 years of environmental learning and action!
  • Promote student leadership
  • Build momentum province-wide

What is an EcoAction?

An EcoAction is a student-led initiative that connects environmental learning with tangible actions. Some examples include:

  • A school EcoTeam makes class presentations, holds an assembly, or delivers workshops to raise awareness about key environmental issues.
  • A student plans and leads their class on a nature hike.
  • The school launches a walk-to-school campaign.

For more details and to register: Contact The first 20 TDSB EcoSchools to register will receive a print copy of our Best Practices Guide.


World Water Day: Educate and Celebrate

EcoSchools Section 4: Questions 4.2, 4.3, 4.4; Section 5: Question 5.7


International World Water Day falls on Sunday, March 22nd this year, and it's a day to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and sustainable water use. The weeks leading up to the day provide an opportunity to celebrate and educate students about the importance of water in everyday life. Many schools will be celebrating in the week prior to March break, from March 9th to 13th.


Ontario Ecoschools has produced a new 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.


The UN World Water Day website showcases other great ideas for youth both at school and at home, including an art contest, running a "Walk for Water" campaign, and instructions on goal setting for a family water conservation competition.

Additional Resources:

Use inquiry-based learning, STEM pedagogy and field work to investigate how human actions have an impact on the sustainability of your local waterways.  "Is our Local Waterway Sustainable?" provides grade 4 students with an opportunity to use digital technologies to investigate the natural resources within their own community.
Produced by OESSTA, OTF and the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Few children can resist water's attraction.  Marvelous Explorations Through Science and Stories (MESS) Investigating Water Guide engages children in the process of scientific inquiry using the context of a favorite early childhood pastime--water play! This guide includes 16 inquiry activities for young learners to explore the properties of water and its importance to all living things. 

Is access to clean water a basic human right or something to be sold?  Oxfam Water Week introduces students to the idea that water is a shared human need and is a right recognised by the UN. 


See EcoSchools Instructional Leader, Pam Miller's recommended list of books on water and 26 more books on water from Wisconsin's Water Library for kids. 

Frozen Great Lakes
EcoSchools Section 4: Questions 4.3, 4.5

Winter continues to be cold as we set new records for temperature and snow cover. The impact of these environmental changes has been captured by TIME Explains, through beautiful time lapse imagery of the frozen Great Lakes. During Ontario's frigid winter of 2014, 91% of the Great Lakes' water was frozen; this amounts to 214,814 Sq. Km of ice covering Canada's largest source of fresh water! This year, NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory reported the lakes' surface area was covered with 81% of ice. Understanding the effect of ice on the Great Lakes is crucial because it impacts a range of economic, societal, and environmental benefits provided by the lakes.


Our frozen Great Lakes are also effecting the migration of grebes. Grebes spend their entire lives in the air or on the water. With so much of the Great Lakes frozen over, grebes are unable to find open water, forcing them to land on hard surface areas. Once on land, Grebes are known as "sitting ducks" because their lobed feet, while suitable for diving, are so far back on their bodies that they cannot walk or take flight again. Toronto Wildlife Centre has declared a grebe-mageddon because of the number of trapped or injured birds they are caring for this winter.

The Water Brothers returns to TVO on April 7th at 7pm!
EcoSchools Section 4: Questions 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4

Join Alex and Tyler on their adventures in Season 3 of their award winning documentary series as they tag sharks and sea turtles in Costa Rica, explore renewable power generation from the Ocean, travel to the Middle East to understand the conflicts surrounding access to water on the Jordan River and investigate the possibility of deep space travel and the search for water beyond Earth. The Water Brothers circle the globe to bring back stories that affect, inspire and educate viewers.

Want to learn more about the topics covered by The
Water Brothers? This April, be sure to check out Dive Deeper - a series of new interactive scrollable stories by The Water Brothers available at Each interactive story will become available after the episode's broadcast, allowing each user to "Dive Deeper" into the episode's themes.

Bike to School Leadership Camp

EcoSchools Section 5: Question 5.2


On March 13th, 2015 the Bike to School Project

will host a Bike to School Leadership Camp at Evergreen Brick Works, to build excitement about cycling and share resources. Secondary students and teachers from participating TDSB schools will be presented with an opportunity to share their experiences, plan for spring activities, hear an inspirational presentation by international urban sustainability expert Gil Penalosa, take part in hands-on workshops on bike mechanics, cycling apps, dressing for cycling, and connect with the broader cycling community.


The Bike to School Project is a collaborative initiative of CultureLink Settlement Services, Cycle Toronto, the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank (University of Toronto) and Evergreen.

Save the date: Bike to School Week takes place May 25th - 29th

EcoSchools Section 5: Questions 5.2, 5.5, 5.6



Schools and municipalities from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) will be celebrating Bike to School Week between May 25th and 29th, 2015. New this year, schools will have an opportunity to register their Bike to School Week event(s) and initiative(s) online (website coming soon!) and will receive a certificate of participation upon completion. 


Stay tuned for our Bike to School Week news bulletin in April that will include ideas and resources to support Bike to School Week at your school! 

Questions? Contact Kristen Evers at

Evergreen Bike Works volunteers needed

EcoSchools Section 5: Question 5.6

Evergreen Bike Works - a community DIY bicycle repair and workshop space that helps to promote sustainable transportation - is seeking volunteers to expand their Bike Works Community Builders team.


Do you...Have an interest in cycling? Want to strengthen your bike mechanics and customer service skills? Enjoy giving back to your community? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, consider becoming a volunteer with Bike Works! For more information visit the Evergreen website.


Water Docs Film Festival: March 20th - 28th


A documentary film festival about all things water, Water Docs presents features and shorts, discussions with special guests and filmmakers, and opportunities to take action to protect water. The festival aims to inform and educate audiences about water and water issues.


For detailed information about the films, venues, and schedules please visit the Water Docs Festival webpage.

HSBC-Evergreen Youth Action Series 2015
EcoSchools Section 1, Question 1.6

Application deadline:
 Friday, March 27th

This annual FREE day-long event hosted by Evergreen and the Toronto Youth Environment Council is part of a national series happening in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. This year the event will explore urban watersheds through keynote speakers, tours and youth-led workshops to inspire youth in taking action towards water friendly cities. Delicious locally-sourced lunch and shuttle bus service from Broadview subway station are included!

Volunteer opportunities are available.
Audience: Secondary students and their teachers
Day and time: Wednesday, May 20th, 10am - 3pm
Location: Evergreen Brick Works , 550 Bayview Ave
To register: Contact Claire Bodkin at or 416-596-1495 x300 to apply for an online registration link. Evergreen media releases and event info will be sent upon confirmation. If your school needs accommodation to attend the event, let Claire know.
Short Environmental Film Festival Grades K-8: 
Call for submissions
EcoSchools Section 4, Question 4.5; Section 5, Question 5.6

Planet in Focus invites students to make short films (max. 5 min) on an environmental theme. What are your students doing to help the planet? What EcoSchools activities might they share with the world? Films will be screened at the AGO on June 4th, 2015 for World Environment Day. View last year's film submissions here.

Submission deadline:
May 1st, 2015
Genres: PSA, live action, drama, comedy
Questions: Contact
Art & Environment: K-12 Teacher PD Course Content Available May 15th - Aug 18th, 2015

With 12 years' experience teaching Eco Art to high school students, the Wexner Center for the Art's Shelly Casto has extensive materials and resources to share. Designed for K-12 art teachers, this online-only course will provide an in-depth introduction to the field of Eco Art as well as a basic introduction to environmentalism. Teachers will leave the course with an extensive online curriculum packet.  K-5 general classroom, 6-12 humanities, and 6-12 science teachers will also find the course of interest.  Graduate credit available with tuition fee.  See details here


RBC/Evergreen Watershed Champions

EcoSchools Section 4, Questions 4.2, 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5


For the 2014-2015 school year, generous cash awards will recognize the best watershed education in Canada 

(1-$3,500 award: K-12) and for elementary (4 -$2,500 awards: Gr. K-6) and intermediate/secondary categories 

(4 -$2,500 awards: Gr. 7-12). What a great way to focus everyone's desire to achieve excellence!


Take a few minutes to visit the web page and examine the judging criteria to decide if your approach to water issues and watershed education will put your class or school in the running! Materials may be submitted in English or French. For more information, email or phone 1-888-426-3138 xH2O (426).


Abundant resources: The excellent teaching tools page includes teaching strategies, questions to get started, videos, and teacher resources. Webinars this March and April will give you ideas on how to take action in your watershed and inspiration for water-wise school ground greening projects that support teaching and learning while improving ecological function.


*Deadline: Friday, April 17th, 2015 at 5pm

Edward Burtynsky Award for Teaching Excellence in Environmental Education

Awards for outstanding teachers--applications due March 27th

The Laboratory School at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study 


This award recognizes outstanding elementary teachers who create learning opportunities that inspire students to become environmentally conscious, responsible global citizens who act to protect and restore the environment. One first place and two runner-up prizes will be awarded. Prizes include funds for Environmental Education and books signed by Edward Burtynsky.  


For more information on these awards and to access the applications, visit and click on awards. 

Bus Grants for the Kortright Centre for Conservation School Programs

Bring your class to the Kortright Centre for some hands-on environmental education outside the classroom!

TRCA is offering 12 bus grants, valued at $250 each to the first 12 schools to contact Caroline at 416-667-6295 ext. 602 and book a green energy program.

Bus Grant Criteria:


1. You must book one of the following programs: 

  • Sustainable House Tour (grades 5-12); 
  • Energy in our Lives (grades 1,2); 
  • Conservation of Energy (grades 5, 9-12); 
  • Climate Change (grades 9-12); 
  • Go Green (grades 4-8)

2. Program must take place between April 7th and June 7th, 2015


For program descriptions and more information see our Elementary School Brochure or Secondary School Brochure.