I am proud of this unit despite the many changes it underwent. Although I loved my original plan, implementation of the unit required a lot of flexibility around challenges beyond my control. I maintained focus on the community-building project and guiding my students to become more aware of those in need. Several of the students truly connected with the unit and really are working toward our goal of making the world “more awesome.”
During the unit, I introduced students to some new tech tools such as the search engine Ecosia, the information organizer Padlet, and infographic creator Canva. The students liked Ecosia because they didn’t need a VPN to use it at home and because a tree is planted for every search. Without a strong sense of economics, they didn’t quite understand how it worked, but they understood that it was a simple way to help the planet with minimal effort on their part.
I introduced Padlet to my class as a way of organizing their thinking, brainstorming and research. First, they used their Padlets to map systems and their components and then to gather information about the needs they identified when systems were lacking crucial components. I wanted the students to decide for themselves what was already in place and what could be improved. Next, each group held a debate and color-coded their Padlet accordingly. This helped them stay focused on the specific needs they were researching.
I try not to make posters in my class, as I don’t think they are the most effective way to share information and thus waste paper. However, I wanted to introduce the use of Canva as a way to have the students focus their message. The infographics that were created by each group of students were shared with the rest of the school. As a result of their hard work, the school stopped using plastic for one week and a contest was held between the houses of the school to reduce food waste.
If/when I do a unit like this again, I will make sure to integrate technology more. I was extremely focused on changing the unit into a project-based approach, and looking back I missed opportunities where I could have authentically included technology to more effectively share the students’ learning with a larger audience.