For Teachers


Teachers' Guide

Candlewick Press's Teachers' Guide written by Kathleen Odean



Lib Guide

Middle-school librarian Nadine Bailey has gathered a rich bounty of resources--including many of the videos recommended in Eyes Wide Open--into this excellent Lib Guide


Curriculum and Resources

San Jose, CA middle-school teacher Luke Holm was shocked to see so many of his students buying into the Mayan calendar's prediction of the end of the world in 2012. He uses Eyes Wide Open to promote critical thinking along with environmental awareness and has posted his strategies here. Check out his student-grabbing trove in the Further Resources section at the end, with everything from Dr. Seuss to YouTube videos to Ursula Le Guin.

Brain Hive

The e-book edition of Eyes Wide Open can now be rented at one dollar a book from Brain Hive, an online resource for K-12 educators. This website offers current titles that are in line with STEM, Common Core, and state standards.


Media Literacy

The Don't Buy It website created by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS offers wide-ranging projects for encouraging media literacy, from thinking about food images on packaging to violence in cartoons.  Though the website is aimed at upper elementary students, its ideas and excellent resources could easily be adapted for older students. 


Classroom Ideas from the Author


When you flip a light switch in your class, how is the electricity made?

When you turn on a tap, where does your water come from?

What happens to the trash in the wastebasket in the corner?

These questions are both basic and rarely asked. Tracking down the answers is eye-opening, revealing how little we know about the systems we rely on--and how we can change that. Let students do the phoning and researching. Prepare for some dead ends. Be persistent and creative. Keep the focus local. Consider making videos of the hunt for answers.



A cellphone. Shoes. A plastic water bottle. A t-shirt. It's easy to see our products' present, but not their past or future. And yet this is where most of their impact lies. How to get a glimpse?

Unless the products are made nearby, we need to rely on photos, videos, and descriptions. Check out the websites in the What to Buy section on the Recommended Resources page. If the product in question isn't covered there, students can do their own research on the web. Having everyone report to the class will give students a good look at the big picture, as issues of scarcity and side effects come up repeatedly. They may also see the turning point we're in the midst of, with companies newly aware of problems and working to solve them.

Because the chain of places and materials can be long, a team of students is a good fit for each product.  Along with looking behind--and behind, and behind again--there's looking ahead to what happens after the product is tossed.  Consider making videos of the search for answers, showing interviews with salespeople, help from reference librarians, phone calls with corporate public information dispensers, reading and watching what's online.



Carpeting, linoleum, glass, ceiling tiles, doors, walls, desks, lights. Everything in your classroom comes from something. Just as we can track tap water to a watershed, we can track the synthetic carpeting back to oil and the window glass back to sand. This is a great exercise in noticing the unnoticed and seeing hidden pasts and impacts. Be prepared to see how widely fossil fuels are woven into our lives.

When you're done, try to find pictures of classrooms from the early 20th century and see what's changed.



Probing the secret life of lunch is eye-opening. How is milk produced? Meat? Bread? Chips? The books Chew on This (for middle school) and Fast Food Nation (for older high school) have great reporting on this. See the Food and Water section in Recommended Resources.



Survey the class, then the grade, then maybe the school. A great project for applied math, from percentages to rounding to averages. 

Beyond school, how many miles do students travel in a year? How do their parents get around? Weight each method of transportation to get an approximate footprint.