This activity provides students with the opportunity to work on a "targeted skill such as persuasive writing on a topic like sustainability or eco-systems" (Pahl & Rowsell, 2012, p. 30). In the first session for this activity, "start the lesson with a slideshow of connected and constrastive images depicting sustainability: a tsunami, a littered cityscape, a green building, a garden, human consumption, compost, a bird in oil, etc" and ask students: "Which images call up sustainable practices?" and "Which images call up global warming?
Students can then assess these images for themselves. Images that are consonant and disconsonant with sustainability compel students to visualize their persuasive argument.
Then play three scenes from the film Avatar that consider sustainable issues in Pandora, the place where the Nav'i [the planet's inhabitants] live. After watching three clips, ask students to write a paragraph in the voice of a character in the movie" (Pahl & Rowsell, 2012, p. 30).
The second session of this activity is optional, and is ideal for higher-functioning students for whom it might be appropriate to "extend the lesson by showing the documentary Wasteland, which presents a famous Brazilian artist who moved to Rio do Janerio to build installations out of garbage with homeless people. Such an extension on the theme of sustainability imbues a sense of communitiy, of taking care of our local words" (Pahl & Rowsell, 2012, p. 30).
The purpose of the third and final session is "materializing the concept through an activity where the students use arts and crafts to create a sustainable invention out of materials. These can be brought in and include artifacts that are recyclable, such as boxes, newsprint, cups, etc. The lesson teaches students to visualize concepts, to write prose based on moving images, and to use materials to crate an object. This ojbect will then represent and articulate the idea of sustainability" (Pahl & Rowsell, 2012, p. 30).
This activity will take at least 2 one-hour class periods. Note: The film Wasteland is approximately 100 minutes, so it must either be divided over more than one class period, or students must be shown an abridged version.
Zachary M. Clancy is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Studies and teaches Foundations of Education at the University of Northern Colorado. He also teaches middle school special education in Denver, Colo.
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