JRNEY is so excited to feature a story from Jodie Deinhammer to kick off 2018 because it focuses on something that I hope will become everyday classroom practice in the very near future. She weaves The Sustainable Development Goals into her year, not as something fun or outside of the curriculum, but an essential piece of it. World Water Day isn't until March, but it's never too early to start thinking about how to bring it into your classroom and school.
We began the year in science by discussing the qualities of a good scientist. Students were challenged to think like a scientist and develop an invention to make the world a better place. Students shared their ideas such as generating clean energy, trapping air pollution, and cleaning our waters on this collaborative FlipGrid board with students around the world. This gave them a chance to investigate the Sustainable Development Goals and interact with other students.
I wanted students to understand how critical water is for survival. During our unit on cell biology, we looked at dehydration and how lack of water can cause serious issues within your body. Students needed to be able to connect the goal to our class objectives and understand the relevance of what they were learning. Teaching about osmosis and cells can be a bit boring for students, but when they can connect it to a real-world issue, it makes it more interesting and applicable. By teaching the standards and objectives in a way that addresses real world issues, students are more likely to retain the information. I believe that deeper learning occurs when students care about the topics and can apply the learning to their own lives.
First students will introduce themselves to their global classroom. Then, we will begin with a read aloud in class on A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park, and reflect on the characteristics of the two main characters. After that, we will watch a short documentary called Ru, which follows a day in the life of a young girl in Sudan. Students will explain their thoughts on the water problems that people around the world are facing and identify ways we could potentially help.
We will collect water samples from area lakes and conduct water quality testing on them. We will share our results on FlipGrid. Last year we were able to learn about water sources in Turkey, Colorado, New York, California, Canada, and Michigan. It was eye opening for students to realize how similar our water sources are but also how different some are. For example, a couple of schools reported high amounts of pollution in their water. We used Apple Maps to identify the water source they tested and hypothesized what around that area was causing the increase in pollution.
Next, each student will be challenged to come up with an “I can…” statement on how they can improve their own water footprint. They will share their commitments with others and listen to what other students committed to do.
Students will then determine how we can make a large scale impact. “What can we do to help address Global Goal #6, Clean Water and Sanitation, to ensure that everyone has access to clean water?”
Students have already suggested that we raise money to build a well in Sudan and do local clean- ups at our lakes and rivers. We will brainstorm together to decide what we can accomplish before the end of the school year and move forward with that plan.
At the conclusion of this lesson, students will individually reflect on that they have learned from our World Water Day collaboration.
Using the SDG’s in class brings relevancy and authenticity to the classroom. The students I am teaching today will inherit these world problems. They need to be aware of the damage we are causing to our planet and actively look for ways to make changes. If we capture their interest at a younger age, these goals are more likely to be achieved.
Jodie Deinhammer has been teaching science in Coppell ISD for over 20 years. She was the Texas Region 10’s Secondary Teacher of the Year for 2015, and was the Texas Medical Association Texas Science Teacher of the Year in 2013. She is also an Apple Distinguished Educator. Learn more about Jodie's class from her blog or connect with her on twitter @jdeinhammer