The Superhero Within Each Of Us: ESD with Grade 1 and 2

After seeing posters for the new The Lorax movie, I was reminded  of the education for sustainable development unit I did last year in my grade 1 -2 practicum classroom. The ESD project came about as I was rounding up a science unit on the ‘characteristics of objects and materials’. Early on in my blogging journey I wrote a post about the incredible Trash-o-saurus we created together as a class. In that post I mentioned how we sat down and discussed how we could all help take care of the earth and be agents of change in our world. I must say one of the most rewarding things about this whole project was help students see themselves as being powerful enough to create change for the better in their world despite only being 6 or 7 years old.

Being in a grade 1-2 classroom the natural way for me to kick off the discussion was to read stories on the theme of environmental stewardship, Dr Seuss’s The Lorax was one of the many books I chose as one I would share with the class. At first I was a bit apprehensive reading it to a group of 30 grade 1 -2 students because at times the book can get a bit complex and tricky to understand. However, the themes in the book are ones that all young students can understand: use your resources wisely and take care of the planet. I could never do a synopsis justice so see the video below for a full dramatic reading of the book!

C.C. 

A  few of the other books I read to the class were:

  •  Michael Recycle written by Ellie Bethel,
  • The Garbage Monster by Joni Sensel,
  • The EARTH Book by Todd Parr, I Can Save the Earth : One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Alison Inches

Sadly those are the ones that  I can remember reading, just a few of the many we did read!

After reading each story I made a point of asking the students if they could do anything to help take care of the planet; each and every time they said yes. Together we brainstormed and learned about all the ways we could be our very own superhero’s and save the planet one small step at a time. Each child made a leaf with a deed they would do to be environmental stewards and together we created our own Earth Day pledge tree.

C.C. Grade 1/2 M 2011

 During the project  I challenged my students to create informational posters to help teach their schoolmates about the importance of recycling! Below are two examples of what they came up with.

C.C. Grade 1/2 M 2011

C.C. Grade 1/2 M 2011

During all this time we were also creating our very own classroom Trash-o-saurus! (If you would like to learn more about how to make your own dino, head on over to my earlier blog post: Prehistoric Enviro-Art Project)

Some links and resources:

http://www.r4r.ca/

http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/institute/lesson-clearinghouse

Power of a sharing circle

Today I had the opportunity to be a part of a group running a whole class session on sharing circles. Typically, as all early years teachers would, I would do sharing circles on a daily or weekly basis with a grade 1 and 2 class. It provides time to meet as a group, to have an opportunity to share and most importantly listen to each other. A sharing circle helps build a sense of community where students become comfortable enough with one another to share their own personal narratives be it about an event that occurred at home or something that they learnt at school, the possibilities are endless!

Cassiopeia A: Cassiopeia A in Many Colors

Cassiopeia A: Cassiopeia A in Many Colors

Now back to the sharing circle session… The group we were presenting to were all adults and all pre-service teachers from the middle and high school streams of our education program. The prospect of doing a lesson that I would do with a group of grade 2’s with a group of adults made me nervous. I thought that it would be painful and boring for the class.

Boy was I wrong…. It didn’t bomb, the class was receptive to the presentation and were completely willing to share in the sharing circle . We prefaced the circle by reading The Seven Teachings By David-Courchene (a beautiful kid friendly story on the Aboriginal Seven Teachings) and asked everyone to think about how they could connect with the story in a personal way. As each person shared their connection to the text we had them hold a ball of yarn which they passed to the next person while they held the end.

Everyone had the right to pass but had the responsibility to participate by listening to their peers. The people in my group focused mainly on connecting their expectations and hopes for their upcoming practicum session with one of the seven teachings in the text. It was amazing to see how people were willing to share and connect with the text in very personal ways. Some shared their fears surrounding practicum, some shared their hopes and some shared some of their nuggets of wisdom. As the process continued a web appeared in the circle, giving a clear visual representation of how we are all connected and that although we all come from different places we all have something in common.

So if ever you are looking for a way to break the ice  or reconnect a group of people consider the power of a sharing circle.