Quilchena Challenge-Based Learning Project
Every year, my class participates in a school district-initiated, yearlong CBL (Challenge-Based Learning) project. CBL projects must be related to community, leadership, and stewardship. Our district provides classrooms with access to 1 to 1 devices and in-class tech consultant support. CBL projects are completed in 3 parts: (1) Research (topic exploration and learning), (2) Creating (written, videos, posters), and (3) Action and Sharing (educating others). This year’s guiding themes were “human impact and consequence” following the First Peoples Principle of learning, where “learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.” Our guiding question is, “How do our choices impact others now and in the future?” Our goal is to inspire students to consider how their actions impact others, realize their decisions matter, and that they have a responsibility to the greater community. For this project, even though it is class-based, it is important to involve other classes and educate the entire school.
Students follow the model of:
1. What? What is the issue? Who is it affecting?
2. So what? Why is this issue important? Why should we care about the issue?
3. Now what? What can we do to help? How can we create a positive impact or change?
This year, my class spent time brainstorming and considering how they could make an impact and leave a mark on their school community. Students were inspired when listening to young activists like Autumn Peltier and Greta Thunberg speak. This propelled students to want to learn more about global issues and what is being done around the world to create positive change within them, but also what small steps they might be able to begin to take to create change in themselves as well. Students explored the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and began to learn about topics such as water pollution, world hunger, climate change and global warming, extinction, sustainability, and inequality issues. Students were allowed to pick a topic that interested them the most to learn more about. Students spent the year exploring their chosen global issue, researching consequences and actions; planning and designing solutions; and sharing with the larger Quilchena community.
As a class, students brainstormed a list of what they could create and what actions they could take to be stewards of these topics and how they could educate the rest of the school community. The first thing students wanted to do was to write and create their own picture books that they could present at a school assembly, read with their younger buddy classes during Friday Buddy Reading, and then donate to our school library so these stories could live on and continue to educate our school community for years to come. Students had to research the best program and most cost-effective Canadian company that could print their books for them. Students reached out to a couple of Canadian sites to inquire about bulk orders and shipping costs and found a Canadian photo book company that would print 28 individual photo books, discounted and with free shipping. My class took their time to think thoughtfully about the messages they wanted their books to portray to educate students on important global issues and provide others with possible solutions. Students had to come up with a design plan and effective story layouts and create their own digital illustrations. This was a time-consuming process, especially for their digital illustrations, and took many months of revising, editing and changing. We are currently anxiously awaiting the arrival of our picture books so we can read with our younger buddies, present them at our year-end assembly and put special library labels on to donate to our library! Students are hoping their books are read for years to come to continue to educate others on the importance of paying more attention to global warming and better sustainability practices.
Since another focus of the district-wide CBL project was community leadership and service, students wanted to provide the school with more than just resources and books. We first completed a Green Schools survey to see where we thought our school was at, what we were doing well, and what we still needed to work on. They also brainstormed various activities small groups of them could participate in and activities we could do as a class. Their first activity was getting together with their younger buddy class to teach them about our community and place (living along the Richmond Dyke, and the resources here), and they helped their little buddies create digitalized oral stories about the plants and animals that live here and how we can work together to protect them. Another group of students began a Green Team, where they go class to class educating students on best practices for recycling and composting properly at the school and creating posters for the school hallways. A third activity we participated in was creating a weekly school ground clean-up schedule. Each week a different division is responsible for helping out at recess and lunch to pick up any litter on the school grounds to help keep our school clean and safe.
An upcoming school-wide event that a group of grade 6/7s students is leading is a beach clean-up. Each year our school goes to Centennial Beach for the day in June as a whole school year-end celebration. This year a group of students is going to lead younger groups of students in helping to pick up any litter and garbage at the beach.
Finally, we discussed what we could do with the leftover grant money. Students wanted to contribute something that would live long at our school. Since global warming was the issue that most students believed to be the biggest issue, having us worry for their future, students wanted to contribute to our school garden and provide pollinators to keep our gardens healthy and growing. Therefore, we used our leftover money to buy pollinator blueberry bushes to plant.
Reflection & Celebration
Throughout this project, students were extremely engaged and really showed their care for our school community and the greater community. This year, students have realized that global issues need greater attention, and even though they are big and really hard to solve, small actions can have a big impact!