High Park Earth Show
The goal of the grade 6/7 students at High Park Alternative school was to educate our school community about climate issues and stories as well as solutions through developing an entertaining new type show for grades 1-8. The show aims to promote clean water, waste management, gender equality, responsible consumption and climate action.
The Grade 6/7 students at High Park Alternative School participated in the Youth Forum Action Project and were inspired by the information presented in the Ontario Climate Action webinars from Learning for a Sustainable Future. As a class, we participated in ‘Help from Kelp’, ‘Parks Canada’, ‘Oakville Green’ and ‘Watt a Waste’. The project was student-led and evolved organically throughout the school year. Our project was named the ‘High Park Earth Show’, after our school and our connectedness to High Park in the city of Toronto.
To begin, earlier in the year the students attended a climate action webinar which outlined the 3 steps of action we can take for the environment; individual, educating others and speaking to elected officials. As a class, the students had engaged in writing letters to provincial and federal officials as well as taking individual steps, such as writing personal land acknowledgements. The third step of action, to educate our school community, was the driving factor for the students to develop this project. Hence, the High Park Earth Show was created. The students’ goal: to inform and engage our school community to think deeper about climate issues, showcase solutions and be positive!
To promote the creation of a ‘news type’ show the students had the opportunity to meet with a filmmaker parent from our school community that walked us through the steps of producing a show. The students really got to see the behind-the-scenes of production and the process of making a television show which one student pointed out paralleled the ‘Writing Process’. To continue, the students were exposed to ‘CBC Kids News’ episodes throughout the year that connected with current event discussions in the classroom and while watching they gathered ideas for what a show could look like. We even had a virtual visit from a producer of the CBC Kids News in our class to discuss how to be a reporter!
The next step led to discussions of how to get good quality video, and video thats other students will enjoy watching that will help them become informed. The students researched and gathered information on what young people are doing to be ‘Youtubers’ and came up with some proposals for gear. I told them we had an IPad as the main recording device. The students gathered pictures of YouTube filming set-ups. Guided by the budget, I was able to use all the funds to turn a classroom IPad into a mobile news camera; with lights, mounted microphone and lapel mics for interviews. I sourced a tripod at a garage sale and made a green screen from used green material for the students to use. Professional and high quality were boxes that had to be checked.
Going forward, this project had a lot of moving parts and roles for the students to fill. We needed editors, filmers, actors, reporters, graphic designers and writers! The one rule was everyone had a job to fill and everyone was connected to the goal of creating a quality product. The roles were assigned based on expertise, willingness to learn from others, or taking a risk to learn a new skill. The students were presented with show topics choices from the information presented in each of the forum webinars and they voted on what would be in each episode. The students had to meet with me after brainstorming to get the go-ahead and continue conferencing throughout the editing stages. The students used their notes made during the webinars, the slide decks from the Youth Forum Hub and their own research, which gave them confidence to take on multiple roles and collaborate throughout the process.
After the first episode was shown to the whole school community, the feedback from teachers, students and families built up the class confidence. The buzz helped create new ideas and kept the class motivated for a 2nd and 3rd episode and a Youtube channel. Throughout the project, the students began asking questions, asking to do more, and taking the project beyond the school, such as interviewing a professor from the University of New Brunswick about the importance of kelp and contacting the city waste management services about the importance of waste management in the urban environment. Further, the school community was engaged and included in every episode. Students and teachers from the school community, were featured in interviews or by showcasing other environmental action in the school. Our class, even had a student bring in their drone to capture aerial shots for other students’ projects in each episode. Overall, by creating a well-planned, well-filmed and edited piece of media, the students experienced the meaning of input vs. output.
To demonstrate the impact High Park Earth Show had on the school community, the students collected data focused on the ad campaign in the show about the city of Toronto ‘Waste Wizard’ waste sorting website and app. In the form of a paperless questionnaire, students and staff were asked if they had heard of Waste Wizard, if they had used Waste Wizard before, and if they would continue to use it or start using it after watching an advertisement. The students found that 76% of respondents said they had not used the app; 68% said they would now use the app to sort waste at home as well as when in doubt of where to throw waste. In episode three, the students had the chance to interview a representative from Waste Wizard and share more about the app and program to the school community.
Throughout the project, the grade 6/7 students at High Park Alternative were able to film, edit and produce three 12 minute climate news shows that are posted on Youtube. The students were empowered by the success of each show after it was shared with the school. The LSF Youth Forum gave the students information they could relate to and wrap their own ideas around them to create something quite wonderful. The collaboration and the interest in educating our school about climate issues and stories was feverish at times but also done methodically and with care. The grade 6/7 students from High Park Alternative made an impact through this action on both themselves and the environment.
Reflection & Celebration
Overall, the students who participated in this project all had a great experience. Students were engaged and were inspired to be a part of the project. Looking back, this project supported so much learning: collaboration, file management, production, planning and revising. This project empowered students to have an informed voice.
The students celebrated creating the show by having a waste free lunch with families in High Park, Toronto Ontario, Canada!