Lesson Planning: A Work in Progress

This week, more than others, I have focused largely on creating in-school lesson plans for primary school classes. Because I am only the second person to work as a sustainability intern in St. Lucia, they do not have nearly as many resources or experience in this topic. As a result, many volunteers have had to come up with ideas on their own, even when they do not have very much personal knowledge on the subject. This has made lessons very inconsistent and the project managers have had trouble getting the children to participate fully in their programming.

When visiting a school this Tuesday, we had prepared a lesson on Waste and Eco-Bricking. We were told that these students hadn’t learned about this topic and so we brought a lesson plan to introduce the students to this issue. When we arrived and started giving the lesson, we found that three months prior, the students received the same lesson from other volunteers. Luckily, I had other topics that I could teach because of my time in Livingstone, but I have found that this is a common theme. While these students had already learned about eco-bricking, they did not have a consistent check-in procedure and so they stopped eco-bricking because their bricks were not being collected. Ideally, by the end of next week, we will have a clear and consistent structure laid out for working with classes and encouraging children to participate in eco-bricking even when there is not a designated sustainability intern.

Taking the five lesson plans that I completed in Livingstone, I set a goal for this week to adapt them to the local structures within the St. Lucian communities. St. Lucia, more than Livingstone, exclusively burns their waste. Everything that people use, from chip wrappers to diapers, gets burnt in fires that are constantly burning throughout the year. During dry season, this creates a high risk of wildfire and during the rest of the year it is extremely dangerous for children and animals who frequently get burnt or experience breathing problems. When talking with these communities, they have largely no idea that burning releases any toxins and only report bad smells as a common issue. One common problem that I ran into when trying to teach about this in Livingstone was that kids often didn’t have the background knowledge necessary to explain climate change to them in a capacity that made sense. As a result, I decided to break down the workshops into 5 sections: Waste, The Earth, The environment, Climate Change, and one final review session. In each of these sessions, the children will learn the vital information they need to connect their actions to the changing climate. Each session will also underscore the importance of eco-bricking (using plastic bottles stuffed with plastic as bricks) in cleaning up their environment. This week, I led the first sessions in several different classrooms and found the students very receptive.

I also realized while leading these lessons that visual aids and fun games help to get this information across more effectively. Rather than having volunteers figure this out along the way, my goal is to have a set of resources that are stored alongside the lesson plans for volunteers to grab-and-go. I’ve been working on these posters during any free time I have in the week and have received lots of positive feedback from the project coordinators and the students. My hope is that, through meticulous planning in the upcoming week, we can set up a largely foolproof plan to get more community schools involved in the eco-bricking and environmental education programs. By setting up a framework for volunteers, I will be able to ensure that children continue to learn about these issues even when I am gone.