At Burford District Elementary School, students are consistently being challenged to consider ways to help their communities and take their learning out into the world. Whether it be through the school’s EcoTeam, which works to reduce the school’s ecological footprint; the student helpers who assist younger students in their lunch rooms; or the Coding Club, which is improving members’ problem solving skills, staff believe that when we learn, we have more to give. In line with Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan and its Community indicator, here are a few of the ways students are broadening the classroom to include real-world learning…
Coffee for a Cop
Ian, a Junior Kindergarten student in Teacher Danielle Hunter’s class, recently insisted to his parents that he needed to buy a coffee for a police officer. This came as a shock, as they had not suggested this to their son. So they did what any parent would do: they started asking questions.
It turns out that Ian’s Kindergarten class had been quite disturbed by a recent Amber Alert that happened in the middle of the night. Many of the students expressed that the alert had scared them. Mme. Hunter heard their conversations and saw a teachable moment. She spoke of 9-1-1 as a number that people can call when they need help and made a personal connection to her sister who is a 9-1-1 operator. The class also spoke about the role of police officers in keeping people safe and helping those who are in trouble.
This real-life learning experience prompted Ian to want to thank the police for the work that they do. In the end, Ian persisted, and went to the Police Station with his parents to present an officer with a Tim Horton’s gift card. We are very proud of Ian for his persistence and his self-advocacy. It sure made this particular police officer’s day with Ian’s demonstration of gratitude.
Donors Save Lives
Julie, a Grade 6 student in Brianne MacGregor’s class, is known as a quiet and kind student by her classmates and the staff at Burford Elementary. Those who did not know Julie well would not have recognized that she always had a lot on her mind. Her father, Bruce, had been waiting for a life-saving liver transplant for many years and his health was an ongoing issue. In January, a miracle happened. A donor was found and her father’s surgery went forward successfully.
Since that time, Julie has mounted a campaign to raise awareness around organ donation. She began by presenting teachers and classmates with green ribbons to wear in support of her father’s recovery, and organ donation in general. When her classmates learned more about this issue, they joined Julie in her cause. They worked to produce posters to display around the school urging people to become donors. Following surgery, medical expenses were high, so the whole class helped fundraise to support Julie’s family. In a brave act, Julie, who is normally shy and quiet, wrote a speech about organ donation, and presented it in front of hundreds of students at the school-wide speech competition.
Julie’s strength and determination have spread through her class and around the school. What was going on in her life became a part of all of our lives and our learning.
Environmental Activists In Training
Grade 3 students in Teacher Carly Malott’s class were learning recently about the waste produced by plastic drinking straws, and writing opinion pieces on the topic. All students were shocked that restaurants used so many plastic straws, and prepared brochures to educate others on the ecological impact of this practice.
Since that time, the students have not forgotten the arguments that they formed during their opinion-writing lessons, and have continued to share the message wherever they have gone. Hudson, one of the Grade 3 students, asked to speak to the manager at a large restaurant during a family dinner, and gave him a detailed argument as to why his establishment should abandon the practice of using plastic straws. Another student, Piper, has started a letter-writing campaign to petition fast food restaurants to stop using straws and replace them with something more environmentally-friendly, and speaks to restaurant staff wherever she goes to spread this message. This simple writing lesson has turned into so much more for the Grade 3 students as they become leaders and activists in our community.
Burford Elementary is proud of all of its students, particularly when the learning turns into action at the school, in their homes, and beyond.