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Recently, in February, Grade 5 students began their « Delicious » unit about food. From my vantage point, that represents repetition over 5 groups of a unit I’ve done at least 4 times with the same book.  Bluntly, the topic of food, restaurants and role play has been done countless times over my twenty year career.  The challenge is how to keep it fresh, up-to-date…

This winter, the hook : sprouts.  To add to the grammar lessons and practice pages of the workbook, I did a demonstration of germination in the 5 classes with different seeds and different sprouters for each group.  There was a chance for students to observe changes over a 2-week period.  Then, on Thursday, February 25th, we had a taste test.  They could taste mung bean sprouts grown in class or pea shoots, alfalfa or sunflower micro greens if they so desired. Others could practice to simply say: No thanks, not for me.  It made for lively, memorable classes just before March break.

The concrete steps of planning which materials to bring, establishing a rinsing schedule & cleaning were easy to attend to because I was highly motivated.  To see, to know, to shape, to SHOW.  The students’ curiosity and enthusiasm was palpable because there was usually some buzz around the sprout trolley. Sometimes, it was just one girl or boy hanging around, lingering. That’s enough response to « give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning ». Speaking English in class is the main competency.  In March, I’ve chosen to go with self-evaluation grids.  There’s plenty of corrections and assessments (110 students in Grade 5, 275 total) and in the midst of this hustle and bustle, there’s my involvement in the school’s environmental committee.  We needed to come up with some ideas for Earth Day.

Here’s where the story really begins.  Students have formed an environmental protection group called Anti-Polus.  They are against pollution.  They came to me to ask if they could present their PowerPoint.  As the conversation continued, I learned that 3 leaders and 15 collaborators, all 10 or 11 years old, have put together a slide show that’s 15 minutes long, addressing what kids can do to help the planet.

Essentially, my part has been to listen and to receive. They are ready to present in the Grade 5 classes this week and aim to meet every group in the school over the next few weeks leading up to Earth Day.  My committee work is done and planning reduced. Sharing is caring.  Not a slogan, an action plan. Light the spark, share the load and show you care. It keeps everybody going even when the going gets tough.

Natacha Sanson
Elementary ESL specialist at Notre-Dame-Saint-Joseph, La Prairie, Centre des services scolaires des Grandes-Seigneuries
Member of Conseil régional Nakonha:ka Regional Council Environment Network

Natacha Sanson in classroom

[Photos : Natacha Sanson]