By Stephanie Reynolds, Teacher, Blueridge Elementary
The North Vancouver School District is excited to share an initiative that is currently underway called "nvkidscare." This organization was founded in 2017 by upper intermediate students at Canyon Heights, with the help of their teacher, Stephanie Reynolds. It continued to grow at Blueridge when Ms. Reynolds joined this community at the start of this 2018/19 academic year.
What began as an interdisciplinary unit in Career 7 and ADST 7 (Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies) that asked students to find a way to bring more kindness to their school, has grown into a movement that is striving for the entire North Shore to become the best version of itself.
Their working mission statement reads:
We want to make North Vancouver more sustainable by educating people about the impact single use plastic has on the environment. We hope this knowledge will motivate North Vancouverites to use less single use plastic each day. The skills and content taught in our classes will also help us make change, as we are learning to knit and sew sustainable items that will be sold to raise funds for organizations that remove plastic from the ocean.
The sooner we initiate change, the less damage will be done to the earth in the long run. We will do this by reducing our consumption of single use plastic, encouraging others to do the same, and raising money for environmental based charities.
As the excitement from the students snowballed, so has the connections with the curriculum. The only rule is that every skill learned or task completed needs to be carefully connected to the curriculum, so time does not get the better of them.
While working on this project over the past two years, students have been applying, and are continuing to apply their learning to real life situations:
- In Career, while focusing on the Big Idea: "Leadership represents good planning, goal-setting, and collaboration," students create SMART goals, to do lists, timelines, success criteria checklists, self and peer evaluations, and meaningful reflection.
- In ADST, students are learning about Entrepreneurship and Marketing, Textiles, and Digital Literacy. They've created a name (nvkidscare), brand, mission statement, logo, slogan, and organic biodegradable knit and sewn items. They've also worked to market and sell the nvkidscare brand in the North Vancouver community.
- In Science, lessons on ecosystems were done in collaboration with Lynnmour students. Students were able to apply what they learned by informing North Vancouverites of actions they can take to reduce the negative effects on local wildlife.
- In Language Arts, students focus on how developing one's understanding of how language works allows us to use it purposefully. This is leading to the creation of a website with semi-monthly blog posts, letters to companies in our community, and bulletins that are written by students to be shared by our PAC.
- In Arts Education, students are learning how, through art making, one's sense of identity and community continually evolves. This Big Idea was most recently brought to life after Gordon Dick came to Blueridge to help the students create a new indigenized logo of their eagle. Now they are extending this lesson as Gordon Dick has kindly offered to collaborate with the class when revising their nvkidscare logo.
In addition to the concepts covered, skills are being mastered as students develop and present mini workshops for their peers; create and market homemade products to raise money for 4Ocean ($20 = the removal of 1 pound of plastic from our ocean); and run monthly challenges to raise awareness and encourage small daily changes to our behaviour that will lead to positive changes for our environment.
We encourage you to follow along with each of these challenges on social media. January was the "No Plastic Bag Challenge," February was "Stop Sucking" (in which participants were encouraged to abstain from using plastic straws), and March's challenge was to "Only use Reusable Cups." And April's challenge is to avoid plastic bottles.
At the end of the day, the students' primary goal is to teach others that it's not about one person doing it perfectly, it's about the entire North Shore making small, sustainable changes.
As nvkidscare is a relatively new not-for-profit organization, everything is still a work in progress. The students are continually reflecting and revising. And while the wording may change in future revisions, the goal certainly will not - nvkidscare wants to make a positive difference in the community.
This student-centered project is based off of the pedagogy, Service Learning. While this may be a new term for some, the action itself is occurring in classrooms everyday. A central goal of Service Learning is to find strategies to integrate community service into the curriculum in a meaningful way. This is important for all learners as service participation shows significant positive effects on all learning outcome measures - including academic, values (commitment to activism and to promoting racial understanding), leadership, self-efficacy, and plans to actively participate in service after grades school. And we are excited to see service as action in the form of nvkidscare.
If anyone is interested in joining this movement, please contact Stephanie Reynolds at email@example.com
. She has her Masters of Education in Curriculum Development and Pedagogy with a specialization in Service Learning and would love to share resources and ideas for incorporating the Service Learning methodologies in your classroom, as well as helping your class join the nvkidscare movement.
If you would like to know more, or simply want to offer your support by liking, commenting on, or sharing what they are doing on social media, please check out the links below:
Official nvkidscare website
Follow them on Instagram
Follow them on Facebook
Follow them on Twitter