Laurel LaBar-Ahmed, a junior high school teacher in Saskatchewan, shows a good example of an innovative and ongoing action project that began with her 2011-2012 grade 8 Class. Entitled Active Citizenship for Sustainable Communities, it involves the creation of a three-part DVD series and teacher’s manual.
You can view the resource manual here.
The project is directly connected to required curriculum:
- It employs the interdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning approach promoted by Saskatchewan curricula. Education for sustainability explores issues that are real-life, authentic, and purposeful.
- It teaches sustainability concepts such as learning about the natural world; learning how nature sustains life; nurturing healthy communities; recognizing the implications of the ways we feed and provision ourselves; and knowing well the places where we live, work, and learn. These concepts are all contained within the language of the Ministry’s cross-curricular competencies (thinking, identity and interdependence, literacies, and social responsibility).
- The three Broad Areas of Learning (sense of self, community, and place; lifelong learners; and engaged citizens) identified by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education (2010) also encompass sustainability concerns.
- Grade 8 students used reading and writing skills to research sustainability issues and to write ’zine articles and stories, used technology skills to create short videos, studied water in Grade 8 Science, worked cooperatively in Art and Language Arts (English and French), practiced public speaking in Art (drama) and Language Arts, participated in outdoor activities (Physical Education), and focused on healthy living and connections to community.
The Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC) gives resources on how other teachers and educators can get involved with international and environmental action in the classroom and stories of current examples of global citizenship education.
The projects of Laurel LaBar-Ahmed and the students at École Massey included:
- A “Sustainability Viewpoints” class Zine production involving community members that the students interviewed.
- Massey School Ecological Sanctuary: Bridging the Gaps and Discovering Canadian Ecosystems, a hands-on project that involved the creation of an endangered ecosystem and species ecological park on the school grounds. Green Roots and the University of Regina’s Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) assisted with the development and maintenance of the park.
- A two-day Winter Outdoor School at Dallas Valley, in which the students learned, together with their grade 7 peers, practical and hands-on means to survive outdoors under varying conditions and situations.
- A twenty-six piece “Sustainability” mural painted and designed by the class.
- Planning, organizing, and hosting a one-day Eco-Fair at the school. This was done with the grade 6s and 7s, HELP International and other community partners and associations, and was open to the general public.
- Brainstorming and organizing an intensive one-day “Sustainability Field Trip” which was piloted, together with the Regina Public School Board’s Outdoor Education Department. Preparing a workshop for teachers about how to prepare for such a field trip.
- A three-day Outdoor Environmental School at HELP’s Center for Ecology, Research and Training (near Weyburn). While there, the students participated in exciting, innovative Green and Zero Waste technology research in collaboration with environmental engineering interns from across Canada and abroad.
- Creating a three-part documentary about the various projects together with Mae-Star Productions. The final video project was screened on the opening night of Massey School’s Ecological Sanctuary: Bridging the Gaps and Discovering Canadian Ecosystems in September 2012. DVD #1 “Seeding the Interest” was also entered for consideration of the “Learning for a Sustainable Future” 2012 Jack Layton Award. The final package is used, in collaboration with the University of Regina, and the Ministry of Education, as an information resource for pre-service teachers and teachers throughout the province and Canada.
– Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation