Students evaluated online and print resources to gain insight into the global impact of plastic pollution. They learned to evaluate the reliability of sources and documented their understanding using Google Slides. They learned to locate and import student-friendly images and videos and shared them with each other via Google Classroom. They began to consider visual storytelling as a medium and discussed the visual components that evoked empathic responses for them personally and articulated why. They were especially drawn to clear, high resolution images of images of individual animals (with faces), simple infographics, and short informational videos. As their projects evolved, they gained insight into how other children might interpret or react to images and information. They began to understand that a high level of discomfort can lead to avoidance rather than action.
After working through initial disequilibrium we identified an actionable focus. We considered our own school's use of plastic sporks and straws wrapped in plastic. We estimated our daily and yearly school lunch generated single use plastic waste (math), developed informed opinion statements (writing), and emailed our school district to discuss alternative options (21st Century communication). Students created and presented a visual proposal to our principal and school district, requesting a change in policy from single use plastic spork and straw packets wrapped in plastic to reusable metal silverware. We also reached out to other schools who had successfully transitioned away from single-use plastic for information and insight into the process.
Students' consideration of this issue began to surface across the curriculum and their lives. They began to notice evidence of plastic waste on our playground and in our community. Parents reported conservation conversations being had at home.