As teachers,we wanted to encourage students to think outside of themselves. In the end, we wanted them to be more aware of the local and global communities. To first recognize real life problems or issues and the resulting impact/s that can occur. Using project based learning, the goal was to have students take more ownership of personal learning within the context of authentic experiences. Encouraging students to take on leadership roles within the classroom and school was also of high importance.
Ubuntu Club- Students from Grades four to six who were interested in being involved in projects involving the local and global community were invited to join this club. Ubuntu is an African saying meaning, “I am because we are”. The club focused on four projects, two being action pieces and two awareness initiatives. First, the students organized the school to be involved in Operation Christmas Child. Each class donated items to fill two shoeboxes with school supplies and treats for children across the world. During that time, some of the classes mapped out some of the countries where the shoeboxes were going and learned about those counrtries. Second, the students organized a food drive for Agincourt Community Services.
For our third project, the students took part in the Free the Children "We Stand Together" initiative. The students decided to make announcements teaching the school about First Nation people, they created posters using quotes from First Nation leaders, and finally created a video for the Earth Day Assembly, to teach the other students about First Nation values. The students were quite excited to hear that someone at Free the Children actually watched the video and that they got some nice comments about it. They really enjoyed it being presented on the big screen to the school and prior to that, we had a special “Sneak Preview” for just the Ubuntu members to see the final product before the rest of the school got to see it. It was great to see the members of the club making connections to issues the First Nations people were having, to other problems in the world such as having unclean water in some communities. Our fourth project was being part of the Free the Children "We are Silent" initiative. They led the junior students in being silent for the day to honour people around the world who are marginalized and do not always have a voice heard.
Special Education Resource Classroom:
Students in my class are exploring social skills with the focus of making friends. We have started our Inquiry process on "How to be a friend" as global citizens. We have read related books, watch videos, analyze photos taken from around the world, etc.. We have created a class book as a result of the inquiry. Students posted pictures of food they eat at home and activities they do to show that even though we are from different cultures, we have the same need of good friendship to keep us going.
Grade 2 / 3 Classroom:
As global citizens, how could we help make learning more fair and equitable around the world? With students in Grade 2 and 3, learning how to read and having access to education is something that is most likely considered a norm. My class is wondering about education around the world and how we can make access to education more fair. Recently, we have been led to information about the importance of early childhood education and how the brain develops so much in the first 5 years. My students are wondering about why some places have a stronger emphasis on this, and others do not. They are wondering what they can do to make a difference and raise awareness. I read a book to my class called I Will Make Miracles by Susie Morgenstern. My students were thinking about the author’s message and as a group they considered the fact that they could be miracle makers. We also read a text called A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton. It is about a boy from a Ugandan village whose daily routine involves going for a long walk barefoot to get the day’s supply of water in two jerry cans. Next, he has chores. There is no school mentioned. An aid worker comes and hands out shoes. We have discussed the similarities and differences between his daily routine and ours with an emphasis on which of the “activities” are needs / wants/ rights/ luxuries. We co-constructed the meaning of “right”. We have reconnected with that teacher who is now back in his village in Africa by Lake Tanganika – thinking maybe we could take some sort of global action based on their needs. We found out from the school in Africa that they are need of shoes so we are all going to bring in a pair of gently used shoes to pass on to the students there. In order to raise awareness in our local community, our class will be making signs and contributing to the school newsletter.
THEORY TO PRACTICE:
We led Professional Learning Development workshops on project based learning to help shift school thought to create a culture of critical thinking and global leadership. During our projects, we helped the students to connect with existing global and local organizations such as Agincourt Community Services, Samartin's Purse, and Free the Children. As well, as having a speaker from a school in Africa. Students were introduced to different cultural practices (e.g. food we eat, activities we do) to learn that making friends around the world takes appreciation and acknowledgement that even though we are different, we are the same. Students researched some topics independently using internet sources, and learned how to present information using google apps and animoto.