Thursday, March 05, 2020

Climate Change Fair Preparation - March 2020

Next week students will present a Climate Fair to the school community. At the Fair, teams of students will display and discuss information related to actions they are promoting to slow down climate change, protect and specifically support the SUASCO Watershed ecosystem, and educate the school community. Students' projects range from public service messages to walk-to-school, do-not-litter, less chemicals, less plastic and more initiatives.

Last year, instead of a fair, students created a movie to demonstrate their learning and actions. Our grade-level team and school colleagues have been working to educate students about their local environment and climate change. This study has included education about the local ecosystem including what makes up the ecosystem and how the ecosystem works. This learning has included reading, research, videos, and hands-on exploration both in the classroom and in nature. The study has also included many social-emotional learning goals such as self advocacy, teamwork, independence, and asking questions.

Today after our math lesson and recess, we'll begin the project with an inspirational student advocacy video from Young Voices from the Planet. Then we will have a discussion about what climate change teams need to continue their project work. The emphasis of the discussion will be that their project display should illustrate their project story including their essential question, how their project will positively affect the SUASCO watershed and slow down climate change, and a clear explanation with words and pictures about the action they have done or plan to do. After that, students will get busy with their project work. My challenge will be to get around to each group to provide the support they need. We are mainly dedicating the next two school days to this project work.

The strength of the project to date has been the interdisciplinary and interactive manner with which we have presented the learning. Students have been enthusiastic about this multi-month and varied learning experience. Successful learning has also been evident in their increased awareness of the environment, climate change, and what they can do to make a difference. This is good.

The challenge with the project to date has included the perennial challenge which is time--how do we fit in this rich learning experience amongst all the other standards and goals we have? In part, we have met this challenge by weaving in standards from all parts of our curriculum program. Another challenge we face is how to best teach and promote optimal social-emotional skills and learning. Each year we get better and better at this as we integrate more and more strategies, discussions, and activities that help students build this capacity, and the last main challenge is making sure that children gain a good foundation of environmental science facts, figures, processes, and practices. We are always working to develop our ability to meet this goal.

Tomorrow when I continue this effort, I'll spend the first part of the project work reviewing the environmental science information we learned earlier in the year so that students remember the main facts related to climate change and environmental science that this project is based upon. In our end-of-day discussions both today and tomorrow, we'll likely revisit the social-emotional skills of teamwork, perseverance, advocacy, and presentation skills to help students prepare to do their best positive work during our Climate Fair next week.