Inspired Teaching School

 

In the 2012-2013 school year, Inspired Teaching School changed their service-learning days to “Changemaker Days,” in which students designed their own social change projects. First grade teacher Athena Kopsidas paid close attention to where students showed great curiosity in their academic curriculum so that she could help students identify particular community problems they could address on Changemaker Day. As it turned out, Athena’s class was very interested in sustainability and recycling. The first grade science curriculum covered environmental stewardship, and the students quickly noticed a problem in the school: there were no recycling bins. Their parents recycled at home, why was their school not doing the same? Once the students defined the problem of no recycling program in the school, Athena guided her class in examining the reasons for the problem. The school had just moved into a new building, and the administration was so busy with other priorities that the recycling program had not been set up yet. The first graders wrote a letter to the school principal asking for permission to establish a recycling program, and Athena secured blue recycling bins for the students to distribute throughout the school. After every classroom in the school was equipped with a recycling bin, Athena’s class checked back in with the other classes to collect data on the use of those recycling bins. This allowed students to reflect on the impact of their work, as well as integrate the first grade math curriculum into their Changemaker Day project.