Spencer Middle School SD#62 Sooke

School Name: Spencer Middle School

School District: SD#62 Sooke

Inquiry Team Members: Peter Jakab: pjakab@ds62.bc.ca, Sam Watkins: swatkins@sd62.bc.ca, Thom Constable: thconstable@sd62.bc.ca, Tabitha Chester: tchester@sd62.bc.ca, Stefan Vasilakopoulos: svasilakopoulos@sd62.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: pjakab@sd62.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Science

Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Inquiry-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How can we further develop students’ sense of social awareness and responsibility (core competency) through the science curriculum?

Scanning: We created a survey to gather information from students about social issues they cared about and would prompt them to take action. We noticed that they had difficulties articulating how they could take action and have a sense of agency to effect change. We drew upon the OECD principle of “Understand that emotions are central to learning”.

Focus: In previous years we have noticed that when we’ve taught different topics in the science curriculum that lend themselves to social awareness/action, there hasn’t been the engagement around social awareness and responsibility that we had anticipated. We hoped we could find a way to bridge the gap from passive learner to active participant. We wanted to build on the core competency of social responsibility in relation to the big idea in earth sciences, and in particular climate change. Ultimately, we wanted to foster student’s engagement in social issues and see themselves as capable of making a positive impact in the world.

Hunch: A hunch we have, is it could be how we are teaching the topics, and the opportunity for students to engage in social awareness and responsibility core competency.

New Professional Learning: We delved deeper into the science curricular competencies and examined where social awareness and responsibility lived in the curriculum. We used resources such as https://www.footprintcalculator.org/ and other online sites to learn more about ways to make the big ideas of this topic more personal to our students. We also conferenced with our district curriculum coordinator to draw on her expertise on how other schools had personalized the learning for their students.

Taking Action: We used resources such as https://www.footprintcalculator.org/ in combination with personal data collection, to take ownership of the issue of climate change. We then broadened the scope from the individual to society at large, to tackle issues of politics, economic and social justice. Potential topics include: plastics, carbon taxes, factory farming, and corporate pollution. We then had students apply their learning and test out new insights as they work through the open-ended “Green-Island” project, to design a more environmentally conscious society.

Checking: We noticed that the activities prompted students to think more about their own lives. The students demonstrated a curiosity about what sustainability would really take. In redoing our initial survey, our findings indicate that students saw the pressing nature of climate change with an increased sense of agency in addressing the issue.

Reflections/Advice: It was important to find a way to make it personal, especially at the middle school years. We really want to try to incorporate more technology to differentiate the ways that students could demonstrate their learning.

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