by Corinna Raasch and Melissa Alcorn, Grade 2 teachers
As the world has paused to examine the best ways for students to meet together safely while learning, playing and exploring the world around them, a group of second grade writers at Concordia have been reimagining learning in their own classrooms.
Could we move beyond creating books in isolation, to writing books together in a synergistic way to teach others? Could we integrate content areas to experience a flow between reading, writing, and social studies? Could we join the community of nurses, administrators and teachers who are active members of the Concordia Shanghai community? With a resounding “YES” to these questions, the second grade writers began to show the community what Active Global Citizens do and say.
Cross-curricular Teaching and Learning
The focus of the G2 social studies unit was "I Am An Active Global Citizen", a cross-curricular unit that included writing informational texts and reading nonfiction text. Students enjoyed learning how to integrate their knowledge and work across the reading, writing and social studies learning blocks. They were excited to work with different experts about topics they were passionate about. The students learned how a subject is relevant right across the curriculum. True collaboration across many avenues!
As the students discussed what they cared about with nurses, administrators and community leaders, Heart Maps were created. The Heart Maps showed what made them feel loved and who was precious to them in their lives.
When the Heart Maps were analyzed as a class, the students realized that most of them had chosen animals, people or the planet as something they valued. With this in mind, the students began interviewing special guests to learn how to take care of our plants, animals and people. Developing an understanding and acceptance of different viewpoints, opinions and attitudes was also part of this unit, so now the students had a chance to put these new skills to use. With the information they had gained from the interviews, the students became excited about choosing an area of interest where they could go deeper.
Seeing the world through the eyes of others
Ms. Petersen, Concordia's Assistant Head of School for Human Resources, came and shared about how she looks after homeless cats and gives them a forever home here in Shanghai. She shared a lot of beautiful photos of the cats she has helped and cared for. Ms. Petersen also took in a few homeless cats herself, and they became her forever friends. Caring for animals is an essential part of being an active global citizen.
Mrs. Fay Zhuang and Mrs. Emily Yu graciously provided tours of the nurse’s office and conducted demonstrations with the equipment to teach the students how to care for different injuries and illnesses. The second graders were excited to record all the information they learned through the tours, interviews and observations to use later in the unit as a valuable resource.
Mr. Klammer shared about caring for the planet, and taught the class about coral bleaching caused by the warming climate and peoples’ lack of care for the planet. He shared how his high school students cared for the fish and animals in the ocean, taking data and studying it year by year.
Mrs. Love and Mrs. Lavender came to speak, sharing how they care deeply for people. Mrs. Love discussed her Yunnan coffee project, which helps the farmers in Yunnan get a fair price for their coffee beans and Mrs. Lavender shared how she built a library in Kenya for students who didn’t have one, and then filled it with books.
The Mandarin teacher, Mrs. Ning also collaborated with second graders, during their Mandarin lesson about being an active global citizen in the Mandarin language.
It’s time to take action
With all the new knowledge gleaned from experts about how to care for people, the planet and animals, the students began to ask essential questions like: How do we think and act like global citizens? How can we care and be more aware of our world? How can we use different tools and our learning experiences to teach about people and environments?
The next step was for each student to take action in their area of interest, and spend more time researching, writing and advocating. Once every student had chosen their area of choice, the book titles began to fall on the covers like rain on the ground. Every child created and presented a piece of information writing on their chosen topic, and then as a class they decided to make these writing pieces into big books.
Miss Romer and Miss Minor (ELL Coaches) encouraged the students to use precise words and verbally rehearse their writing. Mrs. Raasch and Ms. Alcorn encouraged the students to use text features, ask questions and reflect on their learning.
Taking the Big Books to other G2 Classes
The 2nd grade students presented their big books and teaching videos to multiple G2 classes. They enjoyed presenting about all that they had designed and created through the social studies process. The students learned that being an active global citizen is more than just picking up trash, it also means advocating for the protection of the planet, wellbeing of people and the conservation of animals.
To conclude the unit every child reflected on what they had learned, and set a goal of what they would personally do from this time onwards, to be an active global citizen in their own lives.