Resource 6: Thinking globally – acting locally

Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

Learning through action: a step-by-step approach

1. Encounter

Take your class out on four short survey walks. Explain that you want them to use all their senses. What do they feel, see, smell?

Using the school as a base, walk out from the school in an easterly direction. Walk about 500 metres to a convenient safe place to stand. Get everybody to stand quietly facing east for a few minutes with their eyes shut, and to be very sensitive to what they feel, hear and smell.

Then, with their eyes open, ask them to observe carefully all that the environment to the east of the school has to offer. What has nature to offer? What does the built environment (area covered with houses or other buildings) provide? Then ask them to think of the resources beyond, resources that are out of sight, but in that direction.

Tell them that as they walk slowly back to the school, you want them to think about what they have become aware of. When they get back to the classroom, give them some time to jot down thoughts in their books or on a poster.

Repeat this stage, walking in northerly, southerly and westerly directions.

2. The first draft

You need to decide or discuss with your class how you can capture the results of their sensory ‘encounter’ with the environment.

You could clear your desk, place a matchbox in the centre to represent the school, and then write the names of different local resources on small cards. The cards could be placed in a position that represents the direction and distance of each place or feature. You could even colour-code so that one colour card represents a natural feature, and another colour represents a built item. Perhaps if there is a road, river or stream, you could use ribbon, or a strip of cloth, rope, string, or wool to show shape and direction.

You could build up a diagram on the chalkboard, or you could use sheets of newsprint so that you have a record of this work. You could go outside and mark out the features on a clear patch of sand. You could use stones to hold any names written on scrap paper in place. There are many possibilities.

The end result should be that you and your pupils have a rough plan/model/map of the local environment that you are happy with.

You and your pupils are now ready for the next stage. This will be to list and discuss any problems or dangers they are aware of for people or the environment itself.

3. Representing what has been researched

If the work has gone well, your pupils may want to develop a special project. This could be to make a permanent mural on a school wall of what the environment of the school has to offer.

4. Agreeing a plan

You have started the process of raising awareness about the environment and pupils have been doing some research. This will have lead to an awareness of problems or potential problems in the local environment.

Spend some time with your class discussing problems or potential problems and possible courses of action. Share ideas of alternatives. Then spend a few minutes sharing personal views and feelings as you work with your pupils towards an agreement of what needs to be done, and possible ways it could be done. Set a time for the next lesson and ask your pupils to go on thinking in their own time, and even to share what they are thinking with others at home.

5. Designing a plan of action

At the next lesson, you and your pupils will be turning ideas into proposals and commenting constructively on the ideas being shared. This stage of deliberation is very important. Pay careful attention to the way ideas are developed and challenged. Make sure that quieter pupils are taken seriously.

The outcome of this lesson should be an agreed plan of action in a written form. Tell your pupils that the plan will get turned into action.

Just before you finish, spend a short while with your pupils assessing the process of developing the action plan. What went well? What could have helped things go better? What aspects of the plan might need review?

6. Taking action

This stage will depend on your pupils and the nature of their project. Your role will be to encourage, praise and support their action. You will do this by smoothing the way, making sure that they are ‘safe’ in whatever they do, and by giving them positive feedback and good advice.

Remember that the action stage of some projects may take weeks or even months. But you need to make sure that you keep good records of progress (what is happening) so that you can report on ‘work in progress’ at any stage.

7. Assessing outcomes and reporting

Although this can be seen as a final activity, it need not be. An ongoing process of assessing progress should be put in place. Regular time should be scheduled to report on how things are going and all the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ on the project.

Adapted from: Umthamo 39, University of Fort Hare Distance Education Project

Resource 5: Ideas pupils may have about working in a group