Author: Malgorzata Kulesza
We are facing unprecedented times during COVID-19 pandemic. I would say the biggest challenge for students, teachers and parents is that we’ve had never done this before, so we are all facing the unknown.
Planning for education in the pandemic requires different approaches. I needed to think and choose how to incorporate a blended learning approach and which tools and pedagogical practices will serve my students best.
Project-based learning is a great solution to teaching in a time of coronavirus. I have focused my teaching on building relationships and creating learning opportunities to help my students understand the world and their place in it.
Recently I have been working with my students on the UN Sustainable Development Goals Projects that included many real-world applications. Now I have used them at the starting point for our online learning.
I have developed online activities to start working on the Sustainable Consumption Project. What we eat not only affects our own health, but also the environment. Food is at the heart of many environmental issues – it’s a significant contributor to climate change and responsible for almost 60% of global biodiversity loss.
I have planned activities which involve a combination of synchronous and asynchronous approaches. A synchronous approach takes place in real-time, allowing instant feedback and clarification. Microsoft Teams gives me the opportunity to set up a live session with my students, to answer their questions and to support each other. An asynchronous approach allowed my students working independently at their own pace, at different times. We use different collaboration tools like Flipgrid, Sway, Wakelet, Padlet, Google Earth, Mentimeter, Microsoft forms, Google Forms and many more.
How People Around the World Get Their Food
In this activity, students have explored challenges that communities around the world are facing in accessing food and the ways they combat those challenges.
Students from 6 of the first-year classes analyzed global stories in order to evaluate challenges and solutions that people from around the world are engaging with when trying to access food. They discussed the term ‘ethical consumption‘, the challenge which the seafood industry is facing and the solution that scientists have come up with to produce more salmon. They identified the arguments for and against producing and consuming genetically engineered salmon and cell-based/lab-grown meat.
As a result, they prepared short videos on Flipgrid on the different topics and shared their reflections. By posting videos in one grid all 6 classes of first years students could see the results of their research. We shared the Flipgrid with the school community by posting it on school social media.
Where does our food come from?
Students explored where their favourite food comes from and assessed their daily food consumption and global connectivity. They also analyzed human rights and environmental issues connected with food production. They conducted a survey in the classroom (using Microsoft Forms) about everyone’s favourite type of food. Each student picked one ingredient, found out where it comes from and how it is produced. They had to explore where the ingredient comes from, who grows it, considering the number of people around the world that helped to make the food they consumed: from the farmworker and the trucker to the grocery store attendant. They also researched what are the human rights and environmental issues surrounding it. Students calculated their carbon footprint as well. Upon completion of the research, they were asked to create a 3-D (Google Earth) model that illustrates where all of their food consumed in a single day comes form.
Campaign “ How to eat more sustainable food“
Students explored the World Wildlife Federation website and identified six tips on solutions to eating more sustainably.
Each group then picked one tip they like best and made a poster using Canva. We made a collection of posters. Students explained the tips to the school community and their friends by launching a campaign in their social media about how small changes to our diet can make a big difference to our planet.
Reduce the impact of the food you eat by trying planet-friendly recipes
If we want a world where people and nature thrive, we need to fix our food system. We can’t achieve this system change on our own, but adopting a healthy and sustainable diet could help us achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from our food supply chain.
I asked my students to brainstorm about it on Flipgrid. They shared their favourite recipes and showed how to prepare healthy food which is good for the planet. It was a great way to empower students’ voice on an issue that leaves many of us feeling hopeless.
Take Action Project
We integrated these activities into the Take Action Project – a global project where students and educators from around 100 countries make a difference for our planet through social action with a guiding question: What kind of world do I want to create? Classrooms and teachers have been invited to participate in expert webinars, social media conversations, class-to-class video exchange discussions, and community outreach through action research!
My students joined a great webinar with Matt Larsen-Daw from WWF UK emphasizing the importance of all schools to help save our planet and putting the students in charge of learning more about our planet and how to be changemakers.
Together with the students participating in this project, we celebrated the Earth Day by making a Padlet Collection of ideas on how to take action for the planet from home during the pandemic time.
All Take Action Project classrooms have been invited to join for the TAKE ACTION DAY, an online global celebration of taking action for people and planet. My students are invited to join the event as presenters. The event will take place online on the 1st of May. We will share the results of the Sustainable Consumption Project.
During these difficult times, technology is replacing my traditional classroom. However, I have been using technology for a long time and offering my students to share, collaborate and explore with their peers from different cultures, gain the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to improve their academic achievement and become thoughtful, compassionate and globally competent individuals. I have focused my teaching on building relationships and creating learning opportunities to help my students understand the world and their place in it.
The ongoing pandemic presents us with many new challenges. It shows how in the lens the problems that we have struggled for a long time. Many dilemmas and questions arise, as well as a great need for new solutions and strategies. The most important is the welfare of learners – children and young people. No other purpose can be considered as more important.
Supporting each other and staying connected is always important, especially now. Teachers need to share their fillings. Through Scientix Community, Twitter Chats and Learn to Change Community I have connected with one of the most important educators who helped me to expand my own vision for what education should be.