As educators, we search for opportunities to inspire students towards positive character and active citizenship in our schools and local communities. At Elmdale School, digital tools have been used to support students as they develop the character and citizenship necessary to become leaders.

An authentic and age-appropriate problem was presented to Mrs. Murphy’s grade two students. The problem presented was that some of the younger students in the school were not placing their garbage into the correct bins.  Discussion and inquiry emerged as students wondered why this was even a significant problem.  To answer their many questions, grade two students interviewed Eldon Wallman, Sanitation Director, at the City of Steinbach .  Through literature and video on the app Epic, research was done to discover information, including which specific items needed to go into the blue box, compost bin, or garbage can.

To assess the quality of their own sorting, grade two students displayed the contents of their own class blue box onto the floor of their classroom.  They were surprised with what they discovered!  There were pizza crusts, banana peels, straws, and plastic wrap in their blue box. With their new knowledge, they were able to self assess and determine that they had been putting the wrong items into their blue box too!  For the next week, students were highly motivated and met after lunch to sort their lunch garbage. As a group, they ensured that each item was placed into the correct bin.

As their research continued, students in 2M had many additional queries related to garbage, compost, and recycling.  In order to discover some of the answers to their questions, students developed another learning partnership.  They composed questions and interviewed Georgia from Recycle Everywhere.  Because Georgia was in Winnipeg at the time, students used Google Hangout to communicate with her. Google Hangout provided an excellent opportunity to gather information from a source who may not have otherwise been accessible.

Now that the grade two students were garbage-sorting-experts, they used the iPad app Book Creator to design books to teach grade one students the correct way to sort their garbage.  Students used their class iPads to photograph items from their lunches to use as examples of typical items grade one students might have in their class.  These photographs, along with informative guiding sentences, made up their digital books. The students from 2M proudly presented their books to students in grade one.  This was an opportunity for grade two students to show leadership and build confidence by sharing their expertise. Grade one students were very receptive to the guidance from their peers.

According to recent class blue bin sorts, grade one and grade two students have made significant improvements in the correct sorting of their garbage.  As well, students have shown initiative and application of their learning by independently picking up litter from the playground and placing it in the correct bin. To the joy of their teacher, students have been playing “Google Hangout” by taking turns being the expert while classmates ask questions.  Students are practicing and consolidating their learning through play.

At Elmdale School, students discovered that they can be leaders in their school community and that they can have a positive influence on the world by being good citizens. Digital tools were used by students to  research answers to questions, interact with experts, and communicate their learning in an authentic way.



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