ILLUSTRATION: Simone Martin-Newberry
I've taught K–12 in Canada and abroad in many subject areas. Every year, I'm looking to improve as a teacher and learn something new. Based on a suggestion I read in the book Rock Your Class, I tried a project in my Grade 6 French Immersion class last year as a social studies assessment, with great success. I had students create fake Facebook (or "Fakebook") profile pages for early explorers, in French. The assignment challenged students to consider how those explorers would have described themselves, what kind of messages they would have shared, and what sort of news and ideas they would have been interested in. The modern platform engaged them, and thinking of explorers in this context helped bring the idea of these historical figures to life. Student feedback suggested they enjoyed the project, and it was incredible to see the high calibre of work they produced! Afterwards a parent actually wrote to thank me, as they were impressed with how their child was taking their learning to new heights.
Mark Raby, OCT, is a Grade 7/8 Core French teacher in eastern Ontario.
By Stefan Dubowski
Help your students grow into conscientious caretakers of the environment by introducing them to outdoor activities available through Evergreen, a Toronto-based non-profit specializing in community development.
Go to evergreen.ca and click Tools & Publications, then By Subject, then Outdoor Learning & Play to peruse environmentally friendly lesson plans for your students.
You'll see all sorts of activities for K to 12 including The Sensitive Scavenger, a "multi-sensory scavenger hunt" in which Grade 4 students work together to create their own activity involving not just what they see, but also what they hear and smell as they explore outdoors. You'll also find Give Me Back My School: A Back to Basics Approach to Ecological Restoration — a Grade 9 "greening project" to reduce a school's environmental footprint. Or try Go With The Flow: Teaching and Taking Action for a Healthier Watershed. That one's for multiple grades; it encourages students to learn about local water systems and to understand how schools can play an important role in watershed health.
Evergreen's activities tie right in with Ontario's environmental curriculum, including the high school level. The province's Resource Guide: Environmental Education reads, "Students need to have the knowledge and skills that will enable them to understand and deal with complex issues that affect the environment now and in the future."
Luke Howie, Evergreen's senior manager of programming, says the organization takes care to craft resources that are both practical and powerful. "The resources take a fun, hopeful and grateful approach to learning about the natural world while addressing the climate change emergency and empowering a new generation of future city builders and environmental leaders."