"Students were surprised by their consumption habits when they were tasked with tracking within their own families. Many reported speaking to their parents about the household consumption of products and their packaging."
PART 1: Tell us about the learners at your school. (Gathering Evidence/Scanning)
(E.g. what did you notice about the experience of your learners that was most important to your work? Are you a rural, urban or new school?)
Windermere is an urban school located on the East side of Vancouver. We have a student population of roughly 1200 students. Many of our students have not explored their own province and do not have significant ties to the natural environment. Windermere has a very strong community school program, so our students have great potential to teach our younger community students.
PART 2: What did you do? (Focus and Plan, New Learning)
(What keys areas of health and learning did you focus on? What were your driving questions? What contributed to the need to address health and learning at your school? What did you do to make things better? What tools/resources did you use?)
My focus was to help foster healthier attitudes and actions regarding our role in the natural world. With my geography 12 classes, we incorporated healthy living (the impact of our consumption patterns) on earth’s four spheres (biosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere). Key questions included: How do my consumption habits affect global sustainability? How can I improve my personal actions for a healthier planet?
Students already had a good understanding of earth’s four spheres and how they interact. Great hooks included the impact of our consumption through the videos MAN and The Human Footprint. The Human Footprint video was broken down into it’s natural segments and students then presented a visual representation how our consumption of products (diapers, millk, clothes etc.) have greater global impacts.
Together, we studied ocean currents and the gyre system and how garbage patches are formed. We also studied landfills and the impact of our waste on the natural systems. Once students had an idea of the bigger global picture, we personalized it using the consumption module from Be The Change Earth Alliance. In groups, students tracked the use of paper cups at coffee shops, the amount of reducing, recycling and reusing materials in their home, and also tracking the amount of organic waste students were composting in the cafeteria. Other inquiry questions led students to track their shopping habits.
This unit, using the Be The Change Earth Alliance health and conscious consumption modules was accompanied by a fieldtrip to the Vancouver landfill and Burn’s Bog.
PART 3: How did it go? (Taking Action)
(E.g. What actions or strategies did you decide on? Who was involved? What type of support did you gather? How were students involved? What new areas of professional learning did you explore? What difference did this make for students and the school community? How did this impact students’ learning?)
In groups, students fulfilled their various actions using the consumption module. Students were given options as to how they would present to the class (some delivered debates, and power point/prezi presentations.
PART 4: What are your reflections and how can you build on your efforts? (Reflect & Evaluate)
(E.g. what change was evident? What did you use as a baseline for evidence of change? What did you learn from the inquiry? What is most important for you to learn to build on your efforts to sustain changes for your students and in your school? What advice do you have for others?)
One important result of the ‘taking action’ component was around composting lunches in the cafeteria. The group in charge of tracking compostable waste lamented that many of our students in the cafeteria just throw their food in the garbage. Hallway behavior is better with students using the little green bins for smaller items. The group concluded that the little green bins were too small and too inconvenient to use for whole meals. This was reported to the administration and we hope this observation will result in ‘easier to use’ compost bins in the cafeteria.
Students were surprised by their consumption habits when they were tasked with tracking within their own families. Many reported speaking to their parents about the household consumption of products and their packaging.
Many students appreciated learning about the ocean gyres and understanding why they occur and how we contribute to garbage that collects in them. After viewing a couple of children books about garbage patches, a few of my students created their own children storybooks on the Pacific Garbage Patch and the impacts on ocean life.
*This story was originally shared on the Healthy Schools BC Stories Map.