Problem Solving for a Sustainable Society teaching SUSTAINABILITY and 21st century literacy through the four lenses of learning

One of the main challenges in developing this unit was creating a lesson style that would be easy to implement across any area of study. After much brainstorming and debate we realized that having the students design a common assessment tool would be the connecting factor; a key components to Charlotte Danielson's framework.

A unit was created that combined tech ed, 21st century literacy, and social studies content which sought to answer two questions:

  • How do artists/writers use tools and techniques to express their ideas?
  • How do we ensure that our design repeatedly produces desired results?

The main focus was how do "21st century citizens create, share and publish to produce practical solutions to real world problems"

Meet William. The boy who harnessed the wind.

Student would begin by reading the foreword of the book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

THE PREPARATION WAS COMPLETE, so I waited. The muscles in my arms still burned from having worked so hard, but now I was finished. The machinery was bolted and secured. The tower was steady and unmoving under the weight of twisted steel and plastic. Looking at it now, it appeared exactly as it was—something out of a dream. News of the machine had spread to the villages, and people were starting to arrive. The traders spotted it from their stalls and packed up their things. The truckers left their vehicles along the roads. Everyone walked into the valley, and now gathered in its shadow. I recognized these faces. Some of these people had mocked me for months, and still they whispered, even laughed. More of them were coming. It was time. Balancing the small reed and wires in my left hand, I used the other to pull myself onto the tower’s first rung. The softwood groaned under my weight, and the compound fell silent. I continued to climb, slowly and assuredly, until I was facing the machine’s crude frame. Its plastic arms were burned and blackened, its metal bones bolted and welded into place. I paused and studied the flecks of rust and paint, how they appeared against the fields and mountains beyond. Each piece told its own tale of discovery, of being lost and found in a time of hardship and fear. Finally together now, we were all being reborn. Two wires dangled from the heart of the machine and gently danced in the breeze. I knotted their frayed ends together with the wires that sprouted off the reed, just as I’d always pictured. Down below, the crowd cackled like a gang of birds. “Quiet down,” someone said. “Let’s see how crazy this boy really is.” A sudden gust muffled the voices below, then picked up into a steady wind. It took hold of my T-shirt and whistled through the tower rungs. Reaching over, I removed a bent piece of wire that locked the machine’s spinning wheel in place. Once released, the wheel and arms began to turn. They spun slowly at first, then faster and faster, until the force of their motion rocked the tower. My knees buckled, but I held on. Don’t let me down. I gripped the reed and wires and waited for the miracle. Finally it came, at first a tiny light that flickered from my palm, then a surging magnificent glow. The crowd gasped and shuddered. The children pushed for a better look. “It’s true!” someone said. “Yes,” said another. “The boy has done it.”

In Lesson 3 - Students use this mentor template to create a rubric that they will use to evaluate each other's created sites

Now, we give the students a brand new problem (water shortage) and they must do what William did - create a site that informs, narrates, and persuades

Students, to create their site, need to construct artifacts that inform and persuade

Lesson 5 + 6 focuses on gathering informative and persuasive information to go on their website.

Before - Students will familiarize themselves with some facts from The Water Project so that they can practice creating a simple info-graphic to be displayed on their website.

Exposure to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene is a leading cause of cholera and a variety of infectious and tropical diseases in the African Region.

Student were then asked how they felt they could improve the impact of the facts they had just read.

Was one more effective than that other? Why?

Facts coupled with graphics help us understand and retain the information

Lesson 6 - Groundwater Round Table

Students then learned about the rolls different members of society play in making policies that control one of our most valuable, if not the most valuable natural resources, water.

Students would then add all of their persuasive, narrative, and informative content into WIX to create a web page that raises awareness about water issues and shares their ideas of how to address the water crisis in Africa using a sustainable water pump design.

FIN

Credits:

Created with images by N. Feans - "Acacia" • ** RCB ** - "solano wind"

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