Paper Recylcling Program

By Kelly O'Brien, December 5, 2009

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Green Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

240 minutes for classroom activities


This lesson is a continuation of a lesson titled, “How to Make Our School More Green.”  The students went through the design process and presented their ideas of how to make the school greener.  Of all of the proposals, a paper recycling program is what they decided was the most reasonable project for students to take on. With this lesson, students must design a campaign to get their message of recycling out to the students and staff.  They will need to create a slogan, symbol, PowerPoint presentation to present to the school to persuade them to recycle. Instead of a PowerPoint presentation the students can create a brochure, highlighting on each section of the pamphlet what would be on the PowerPoint slides.  However, keeping with the idea of being green, brochures can be a waste of paper. 

National Standards


  • Students will:
  • develop a recycling campaign
  • design a way to persuade students and staff members to take on the new recycling program


phone number of local waste management company to organize a regularly scheduled pick-up and containers computer, with PowerPoint program examples of brochures that persuade people to buy products or travel


  • many large cardboard boxes (recycled boxes from school deliveries that will be used as class collection containers)
  • markers
  • poster paper
  • butcher paper
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue


  • campaign: a connected series of operations designed to bring about a particular result
  • persuade: to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action


1. REVIEW THE CHALLENGE – Design a way to educate students and staff about the students’ paper recycling campaign.

2. INVESTIGATE THE PROBLEM – Students spend one day surveying classrooms.  They need to look in each classroom for where the teacher can store a container, where around the school to place large collection containers, how they will get the recycled paper to the dumpster, and who will take on the responsibility to follow up and make sure the program is being implemented around the school.

3. FRAME/REFRAME THE PROBLEM – Give a mini-lesson on the 3Rs – Reexamine, Rethink, and Redefine – Have the students discuss what they think the problems will be with the implementation.  Have students work in small groups of four to six to discuss issues found in investigation.  Circulate through the groups to make sure they are still discussing the problems, not ways to solve issues they see.  Help the students narrow down their problems to what they need to address in their campaign and what problems they cannot solve. Meet with each small group in order to focus their thoughts.  They are to chart their ideas and share with the whole class.

4. GENERATE POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS – Small groups meet to discuss solutions to the problems they identified that they must address with the students and staff.  This is a brainstorming session so anything is a good idea.  Ideas can be charted on a group chart.  Give this step a time limit, about twenty minutes. Then have the students share their ideas and have the rest of the class help them practice the 3Rs, as they question and discuss each others’ ideas.

5. EDIT/DEVELOP IDEAS – Have the students meet again in their small groups to discuss their group's ideas and the ideas of others in the class. Students then develop a presentation to share the program with the students and staff.  They need a symbol, a slogan, and FAQs that are to be included in their presentation.  They are to chart their solution and examples of how their solution can work.

6. SHARE/EVALUATE THE PROCESS & IDEAS – Partner groups up so that they can present to each other their thinking.  Have the students question each other’s presentations and offer advice regarding making each group’s project stronger.

7. FINALIZE THE SOLUTION – Groups are to finalize their solution by presenting their ideas, through  a PowerPoint presentation, to each other. They are to plan an oral presentation in which each member takes a turn to speak to the audience.  In their presentation they should explain their thinking at each step of the design process and how this helped them arrive at their solution for the problem.

8. ARTICULATE THE SOLUTION AND PROCESS – Present to their ideas to each other.  They are to include in their presentations how and why their solution will be the better way to encourage people on campus to recycle paper daily.  Based on the many ideas presented the class finally votes on a symbol, slogan, and plan(s) that should be implemented.  Then the final presentation can be prepared for the school.


To determine if the student successfully learned the objectives I will assess each student’s writing at each stage of the writing process; brainstorm, draft, revise, edit, publish.   In addition, the images used in the presentation will be assessed for audience impact and support of the text.  A self-reflection writing sample from each student will also help to see what the student believes s/he learned, what s/he believes was successful about their work on the project, as well as what wasn’t successful.

Enrichment Extension Activities

As an extension, students could present to parents at a parent night, in order to begin recycling at home. Students can also take their campaign to the other schools in the area to get the same thing started.

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