“We applied for the Be the Change Earth Alliance Student Leadership in Sustainability Curriculum. This topic was chosen because it is a Social Justice class that is relatively new to the school – students are interested in these topics but want to choose research that is meaningful to them.”
A group of 28 students worked over 5 months working on Inquiry Based Learning using school or personal laptops to do the research and create presentations. We first signed up for a module from the Student Leadership in Curriculum. Students had 8 options to choose from:
1. Environmental Justice
2. Water Privatization
3. Animals & Us
4. Gender Equality
5. Local Economy
7. Food Security
8. Nature’s Rights
Students spent approximately 15 hours doing guided independent research and then had to create an educational presentation for the rest of the class and advise the class on various actions they could take to help the particular social justice issue they researched. We also invited the Superintendent of our School District to watch some of the presentations.
Our class implemented or started the following actions:
1. We went around to all of the classrooms to present our findings on the impact of water privatization and plastic water bottles and had students/teachers sign a petition to stop the sale of plastic water bottles in our school and also spoke to the Superintendent of our District to find out if we could spread this district wide.
2. We have engaged in multiple meetings and researched the criteria to try and get a school farm implemented at our school – this will be a 2-3 year project to get off the ground. From here, students were invited to choose any topic they wanted to do inquiry based research on.
Students were able to interact with a variety of teachers when presenting to classes on water bottle issues.
Superintendent was clearly engaged with our research.
I believe students, on the whole, felt more responsible for their school and related well with teachers.
Students really enjoyed doing the research although I may have given them too much time to put their presentations together. This year I did not assign any grade to their action – the suggestions from the students were that as bad as it sounds, there should be accountability and a grade associated with the action as that will spur them to do more.
Also, before students presented I met with each group to make sure their presentation was thorough enough and gave advice on what they could add, change, etc. This was very time consuming and also prolonged the class time taken – A better strategy could be to meet before school or at lunch for these class meetings or have something else related that other students could be working and moving forward on.
- We will continue to work on getting bottled water banned from our school district.
- We will continue to get a working farm implemented in our school.