This challenge invites students to think about the personal or collective actions they might take to care for the environment in the classroom, school or schoolyard. Begin by helping students identify the conditions around them that contribute to a pleasing environment (e.g., free of clutter or garbage, organized, contains growing plants, everyone shares the resources). In a separate column, list things that are unpleasant or harmful to the environment. To assist students in identifying these problems, take students (in small groups if possible) on a tour of the school grounds, looking for evidence of situations that are unpleasant or harmful to the environment. In reporting back on their findings, encourage students to use points of reference (e.g., the garbage was near the swings) when explaining the location of their identified problems to the rest of the class. Invite other students to ask for directions so their group might locate the identified problems.
Gather and record the information about conditions that contribute to a pleasing environment and problems that need to be acted on. To assist students in deciding what action they might take to enhance or improve their environment, review or introduce the criteria for an effective contribution to the environment (e.g., addresses an important problem, is realistic to do, helps many people). From the class list, suggest that students (collectively or individually) choose and select something that would make a big contribution to their school. When students have decided upon the problem they will address, identify the actions each person can take to contribute to a pleasing school environment. You may want to adapt the charts and strategies for Considering Options (Support Material) and Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure this activity.
Adapted from I Can Make Difference, edited by Mary Abbott, Roland Case and Jan Nicol (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2002), 7587.