by Rachel Poff, Grade 3 Teacher, Lakeside –
Action is one of the essential elements of the Primary Years Programme (PYP). It is important for students to learn that they can make a difference in the world. During our final unit of inquiry we really focused on student action in a variety of ways. This is the story of 3-3 and coffee.
Our central idea for the unit was “distribution of wealth affects communities and individuals access to equal opportunities”. After reading the book Zapizapu Crosses the Sea: A Story About Being Fair by Diane Abad Vergara, the students became interested in the idea of fair trade. As part of their home learning, they went to the grocery store with their parents and looked for fair trade products, found the fair trade logo and compared prices of products. Many families made changes and started to buy fair trade coffee, chocolate, bananas and other products.
Our writing genre for this unit was persuasive writing. As writing is integrated into our units of inquiry, we completed a shared writing activity and wrote a letter to Dr. Odland asking him if we could put fair trade coffee in the Vive Café at the school. We explained to him about all the positive things fair trade could bring to coffee growers. We also told him that we thought Fair Trade coffee was an example of being caring and principled, which are two of our learner profiles. He wrote us back right away and shared some exciting information with us. He informed us that he had shared our letter with some other very important people at the school and from Sodexo. We arranged a meeting with Mr. Aman (Sodexo) to come to our class so we could speak to him about putting fair trade coffee into Vive Café.
To allow for the different learning styles of the students, ideas were presented in different ways. At the end we had a poster, a poem, a slide show, a booklet and we read the book Zapizapu Crosses the Ocean. The students also started a Twitter campaign to use technology to affect positive change. During our Student Led Conferences, students and their parents created tweets about our campaign: #fairtrade #coffee #Room315. We also created a display board in the Grade Three hallway.
Mr. Aman was exceptionally gracious with his time and enthusiasm. He listened to the children and really made them feel important. Best of all, he was persuaded. Thanks to the hard work of the students, Vive Café will be selling fair trade coffee next academic year. In addition, the seven other school canteens catered by Sodexo will also make the switch to fair trade coffee.
I could not be more proud of the efforts of these children. What a fantastic example of student action and what a way to finish the year!