During the second half of the autumn term, British International School of Washington (BISW) primary school students in Year 5 and Year 6 wrote and illustrated books to inspire children to look after the environment. Some students created audiobook recordings to correspond with their works. Later, the classes shared their stories with Year 1 and Year 2 students, who discussed the moral of each story and provided feedback to the authors to share what they learned and liked.
“There are many ways children can make a difference when it comes to the environment, so as a class, we talked about complex topics like climate change and deforestation,” Year 5 Teacher Joanna McBride said. “However, for our books, we specifically selected topics with achievable goals for young people, such as picking up litter and putting it in the bin.”
The project helped the students link art to English and use multiple creative techniques, such as paper collage, to produce illustrations. For example, Year 5 student Maha used collage illustrations for a story about a squirrel who taught a fox not to litter in the woods. Similarly, Year 5 student Anna made drawings and paper collage to decorate an epic story about a sea turtle who went on an adventure to save friends in the ocean from plastic waste. In addition to making imaginative illustrations, the students also developed bright, entertaining voice recordings. These enhanced the stories and added an inclusive element that accounted for children with different levels of English skills. Also, the project included the students from the virtual school experience as well as the in-person school experience.
“In previous years, we had reading buddies, which the students always enjoyed” Assistant Head of Primary and Year 6 Teacher Daniel Holland explained. “This comparable activity motivated the children to do well and apply themselves because they wanted to have a positive impact on the students from other year groups. It was important for us to involve virtual students. We make sure each student at BISW has the same access to opportunities to collaborate with others.”
At BISW, the primary school follows the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), which takes a thematic approach to education. Each term, primary school students explore exciting topics through a variety of units. Recently, the Year 5 and Year 6 classes looked at the IPC unit Champions for Change, which helped them learn about governments and politics and think about global issues. For example, they looked at environmental issues, such as climate change and pollution, which helped to inform their writing and illustrations.
“Some students in the upper primary year groups were excited to share their stories with specific students in the lower primary year groups, such as their siblings or close friends,” Ms McBride said. “Other students even said the project was their favourite activity of the whole year.”