Guest Author, Jen Friske – Rocky View Schools Portrait of of a 21st Century Leaner states, “To succeed in in our global community, I will need to be globally aware and civically engaged.” Of course, these are only 2 of the 10 tenets set out by RVS in their vision for our students’ future. However, these are the 2 that have stood out for me in my grade three classroom in the last couple of months.
At our school, we are on a journey to develop our students’ international mindedness. With everything that is currently happening around the world, my students have been actively engaged in wanting to learn and inquire more about these events. The catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan have really struck a cord with many of my students. We are one week into our current six week Unit of Inquiry, Sharing the Planet; based around the central idea, “People have a responsibility to create positive change in the world” and already, I have seen a shift in many of these 9 year olds’ thinking.
I am always encouraging my students to realize that they can make a change, big or small, it doesn’t matter; if they follow the Action Cycle (Reflect on the things that you could do. Choose what you think you will see success in. Act on it!) So I must take a moment to brag about the change that even our elementary students can make. After our discussion in class about the events unfolding in Japan, I had a student raise their hand,
Student: “Mrs. Friske, I know we are supposed to be thinking about perspective, and putting ourselves in the shoes of another person, but I just can’t imagine how the kids in Japan are living life right now.”
Mrs. Friske: “Yes, you’re right. It is difficult to imagine yourself in a situation that you haven’t experienced.”
Student: “It really makes me sad to think of everything that they have lost. I think I would like to help by donating money and clothes and blankets to those who have lost everything.”
And thus began the Action Cycle. We discussed how to make an informed decision on which organizations your donations should go to, how to go about creating awareness of your initiative, and how to collaborate as a team to see your action through. In the end, a group of 9 grade three students took on the initiative to plan and carry out a school-wide fundraiser for the people of Japan.
Creating awareness (they made posters that were hung around the school, and wrote a letter that was sent home to every family in the school):
Collaborating by collecting and sorting monetary donations (they chose to donate their funds to the Canadian Red Cross):
And collecting clothes and blankets (they chose to send these to the local Goodwill):
All of which was generated solely by students who are demonstrating that they are becoming globally aware, wanting to be civically engaged and making a positive change in their world. They weren’t told to do it, they chose to do it on their own. Those are 21st Century Learners in the making!
About the author: I am currently a grade three teacher at Prairie Waters Elementary School in Chestermere. I am a passionate, lifelong learner and I fully embrace the goals that Rocky View has set out to create the 21st Century Learner.