Yes we can!

| October 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

Some teachers just get it, like Joan Wright-Albertini, a firstgrade teacher at Park Day School in Oakland, California, US, whose story appears in in Centre for Ecoliteracy’s (based in Berkeley, California) latest book by the centre’s director Lisa Bennett: Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence ( Jossey-Bass, August 2012).

Every year, Wright-Albertini works with her young students to transform her classroom into a completely different ecosystem. This year, over an extended period of time, the young learners painstaking created an ocean habitat, learning about anglerfish, octopi, jellyfish, sharks and other wonders of the deep.

It is a simple project that any teacher with imagination and commitment and some resources can undertake. Each student selected a creature, created and displayed it, spoke about it to their classmates and the whole school and presented it to their parents on a special evening.

Then, as Bennett describes: “The next morning brought something most unexpected. The room was dark, and a black substance covered the creatures they’d lovingly created. “There’s been an oil spill,” says Wright-Albertini.

“The students were already familiar with oil spills – but even though this mock disaster was really created by stretching out black lawn bags, it felt personal, and they wanted to know more. After reading about how people clean up after an oil spill, students asked, ‘What can we do?’ One boy suggested they put on their gardening gloves.

“Then they got to work, completely restoring the mock habitat they had worked so hard to create. “When their work was done, they discussed what they learned: why it was important to take care of nature, what they could do to help, and how the experience made them feel. “I could have cried,” Wright-Albertini says. “It was so rich a life lesson, so deeply felt.” Indeed, she saw her students progress from loving the ocean creatures they had created to loving the ocean itself while gaining the knowledge that, even as six- and sevenyear- olds, they could make a difference.

Perhaps the following occasions can jump-start exciting projects in your school either this year or in the future:

  • World Vegetarian Awareness Month – held annually during the month of October
  • World Habitat Day – held annually on the first Monday of October
  • World Farm Animals Day – held annually on or around 2 October (Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday)
  • International Walk to School Month – held annually in October (America)
  • No Trash Week – held annually in October (America) • World Food Day – held annually on 16 October by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • World Vegan Day – held annually on 1 November (kicks off World Vegan Month)
  • International Volunteer Day – held annually on 5 December. 

Category: Summer 2013

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