How Do Humans Impact the Earth?

June 24, 2021
By
Joanne Marriott
Anne Sashegyi

HOW DO HUMANS IMPACT THE EARTH?

Case Study: Term 3 

School: Bob Hawke College

Teacher: Anne Sashegyi

Year Group: 7

Creative Practitioner: Joanne Marriott

Creative Practice: Creative Facilitator

Main Curriculum Focus: Science – Human activity can affect interactions between organisms; some of the Earth's resources are renewable but others are non-renewable, water is an important resource that cycles through the environment. 

Cross-curricular Links: General Capabilities, English, Science, HASS, Technologies, Health and Physical Education. 

General Capabilities  – Literacy, numeracy, critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, personal and social capability, and intercultural understanding.

English – Listening and speaking interactions, oral presentations and comprehension strategies.

Science – Science knowledge can develop through collaboration across the disciplines of science and the contributions of people from a range of cultures. Solutions to contemporary issues that are found using science and technology, may impact on other areas of society and may involve ethical considerations. Identifying problems and questions that can be investigated scientifically and making predictions based on scientific knowledge.

Humanities and Social Sciences – Questioning and research, evaluating, analysing, communicating and reflecting. History - investigating the ancient past. Geography - classification of environmental resources (renewable and non-renewable). The influence of environmental quality on the livability of places, and the strategies to enhance the livability of places.

Technologies – Investigating and defining, designing, producing and implementing, evaluating, collaborating and managing. 

Health and Physical Education –  The impact of relationships on own and others well being, health and social benefits of physical activity and recreational pursuits in natural and outdoor settings, movement skills and sequences within different physical activity contexts and settings and communication skills that support and team cohesion, such as body language and listening skills.

CONTEXT 

Bob Hawke College is a new public secondary school in Subiaco, which recently opened in February 2020. The 270 students in Year 7 are the first to experience the school and the only student cohort currently in attendance (there is no Year 8-12). As such, the culture is evolving, relationships are forming and ways of working are developing.

The students are embarking on their learning journey at the college with a positive mindset, enthusiasm and a willingness to take on new challenges. They are supported by a diverse and resourceful parent community and a highly skilled teaching staff focused on innovative learning practices and responding to student needs through a balance of academic, social, emotional and environmental learning opportunities.

The school leadership is very open and supportive, with a strong commitment to developing creativity as a sustainable capability, alongside innovation, technology and industry/university partnerships. The motto ‘Extraordinary Together’ is a commitment to being the best and to be courageous, innovative and inclusive.

The Year 7 class nominated for the Creative Schools program is working with creative practitioners in Science and English lessons. There are 30 students in the class, with varying levels of literacy and engagement. The Creative Schools program in this context, was intended to trial new ways of learning, increase the level of student engagement and build new creative habits (in particular collaboration and discipline). 

“I’ve gained skills of interacting with others. I’ve expanded on who I hang out with. By putting us in random groups you get to know your peers better.” - Student

In a broader sense, the school would like to build on and scale their capacity and capability for creativity, by sharing the learnings from the program across the teaching community, incorporating it into teacher professional development opportunities and developing a school-wide capability model (wheel) for the Creative Habits of Mind.

WHAT WE DID 

The focus of the project this term was on sustainability and human impact, considering how humans impact the earth, and what effects this can have on the water cycle and ecosystems (living places and relationships). 

HOW WE MADE THE CURRICULUM COME ALIVE

We began the term by anchoring ourselves with the question of "what does sustainability mean to me?" and used outdoor activities, games and stimuli throughout the term to bring it to life in a very physical way. We created our own sustainability superheroes in clay and talked about what challenges they would face and what superpowers they would need. We looked at the Museum of Water to stimulate the idea of water as a precious resource and used photography to capture moments with water that we consider precious in our lives. We created watercolour paintings and "Missing" posters for endangered species in Australia and each of the students investigated the ecosystems and threats for their chosen species. We invited Marissa Verma from Bindi Bindi Dreaming to join us for a cultural incursion and spent time exploring the concept of sustainability in Aboriginal culture, discussing the use of different resources, caring for the bush and working with the land through the seasons.

“Creative Schools is different to other lessons where we get told what to do and just do it. In Creative Schools we get to talk in a group and talk about different things like endangered animals and get to discuss stuff. It’s a more enjoyable way of learning.” - Student

HOW WE MADE THE CREATIVE HABITS OF MIND COME ALIVE

The students really enjoyed a scavenger hunt around the school to find the Creative Habits of Mind. They were launched into an imaginative scenario: "The evil tyrants from the Planet Testalot have stolen the Five Habits of Learning and hidden them in the farthest corners of the galaxy Bobus Hawkus. Without these habits of learning, children all over the world will be forced to relinquish their creativity and succumb to a harsh regime of mindless testing." The students were recruited into teams of creative warriors tasked with finding and returning the five learning habits. When they had completed the challenge, they worked on what each of the habits look like (behaviours) and sound like (words) and then developed a role play scenario to act out one habit together as a team. This was a really worthwhile exercise to see how the students interpreted and described each of the Five Creative Habits. It allowed us to focus more during the term on solidifying our understanding of the habits by experiencing them, e.g. using visual aids such as a mountain biking video, or reflection card activities to practice being inquisitive or imaginative. We now have a much more coherent dialogue around the habits and we were able to reflect at the end of term on which we had used the most and what we wanted to focus on next term.

“It’s a lot more out of the classroom rather than sitting at your desk. You get to use a lot more things other than just computers.” - Student

HOW WE ACTIVATED STUDENT VOICE AND LEARNER AGENCY 

This term has been very much about experimenting with different ways of learning, with a view to trialing a range of different environments, practices and approaches. The students were asked at the beginning of term to write a postcard to their future self, revealing a picture of what learning looks like. The majority of the class drew pictures of laptops and desks. By the end of term, students were able to articulate their learning preferences, what worked well for them this term and how they would like to learn next term. A large majority of students expressed preferences for team challenges, collaboration, outdoor environments, drawing and games. Next term we look to extend student agency by developing their own personal and project team goals, designing their own lessons and developing their work product. 

“You learn new things and discover different ways of learning. It’s different to the normal teaching way where you have a text book. But in Creative Schools you learn in different ways.” - Student

WHAT WAS THE IMPACT? 

Student Impact

The students now demonstrate a greater sense of self-awareness, of their own behaviour and discipline, of their creative capabilities, of their values and of their preferred ways of learning. They've also developed greater social awareness, recognising others strengths and contributions, expectations and values. The diversity of social styles and learning preferences has become more apparent.

“I’m not usually a great team member and I’m getting better at it because in Creative Schools we are doing fun things in a group.” - Student

Teacher Impact 

The Creative Schools program has provided an opportunity to be courageous, push the boundaries and try new things. We have gained a much greater sense of what’s possible with this group and what works or doesn’t work for their learning. The program has motivated a broader approach to learning and built teacher confidence in developing new lessons that incorporate the Creative Habits of Mind.

“Seeing the change of teachers’ thinking has been really interesting for me.” - John Burke (Principal)

Creative Practitioner Impact

This project has tested and challenged me to innovate and develop new facilitation techniques to best engage with this group and bring the Creative Habits of Mind to life in a tangible and hands on way. I've learned what works well with the class and what doesn't work, and also about the specific needs of some individual students. 

“In Creative Schools you make new friends - it’s good, especially for people who don’t have many friends.” - Student

School Impact 

Other classes are benefiting from the Creative Schools program by the teachers replicating the creative lessons with other classes, and other teachers are learning about the Creative Habits through the professional learning communities and observing each other delivering their own creative lessons. 

“You could see the children are thinking about what creativity looks like.” - John Burke (Principal)

Parent Impact

For the parent community, insights have been provided on the Creative Schools program through the school newsletter and there are plans to showcase some of the Creative Schools work at the Celebration of Learning event in Term 4.

“The Creative School’s program has had a number of long term benefits to both students and teachers. The students are more engaged, and have built a range of skills that will be an asset to them moving forward and staff have explored non-traditional lesson ideas that have inspired further innovation in their classrooms. It has been wonderful to watch the journey unfold.” - Matthew Titmanis (Head of Science)