Solving problems, taking action and being the change at Concepcion High School, D Pearl Bay, Busuanga.

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Being dedicated to service in the community and environmental protection doesn’t just take a break at the end of the school year. It’s a way of life. Whilst my main job of ES Service and Environmental Learning Coordinator was on hold over the holidays, I was not! I was grateful for the chance to work at a school in Northern Palawan with former ISM ES Service Learning Coordinator, Juanita Naidoo-Rea who is head of Design for Change Philippines and founder of a holistic education organisation called eduSOIL.

The school, called Concepcion National High School is in the town of Concepcion, in the Busuanga area of the Philippines. The school building along with text books and any resources they had, were completely destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. Whilst new school buildings were constructed this year, the school still faced many problems such as inadequate seating provision, few resources and the students and teachers had had to cope with much Trauma from the Typhoon itself.

Concepcion National High School, Busuanga.

Concepcion National High School, Busuanga.

So from the 23rd-28th I was involved in assisting as children used workbooks called I Can Regrow Kaya Ko! (Kaya ko means “I can” in Filipino), created by Juanita and sponsored by German University students. The workbooks contained a series of exercises and guiding questions designed to promote child led inquiry into healing and community re-building strategies for those living in affected areas.

A Student of Concepcion High School reflects on how they can be the change in their community.

A Student of Concepcion High School reflects on how they can be the change in their community.

The children, from grade seven to eleven worked in groups to identify aspects of their community that troubled them and then designed solutions to solve these problems. The most impressive part was that they then took action and implemented their ideas straight away in their school and community. I worked with one group who in the space of a morning agreed a location for a school compost site with their teachers and then built it themselves. However the children identified and took action on a diverse range of other problems including trash, bullying, poor sanitation, broken chairs, missing family members and family conflict at home.

Students work on the site upon which they have chosen to build their school compost site.

Students work on the site upon which they have chosen to build their school composting facility.

The student’s commitment to solving problems in the world amazed me. Not only that, but their belief that change was possible. Everywhere I looked the “I can” attitude seemed to be in evidence. It was a wonderful example of how students can become empowered and have real belief in themselves as global problem solvers.

One student uses a piece of material from the previous school building to help build the compost facility for her school.

One student uses a piece of material from the previous school building to help build the compost facility for her school.

Three students and an accompanying teacher have since been selected to attend the DFC Global Conference which takes place from September 26-28th 2014, in Ahmedabad, India. They are currently raising the funds necessary to attend. If you would like further information on how to get involved then go to


Reducing Our Impact.


The week of the 24th to the 28th March will see the students across ISM conducting a series of activities to raise awareness about the need for us all to live in a way that is more sustainable for our planet and by consequence ourselves. Here in ES many classes have been conducting inquiries into how we can reduce our consumption of resources in different ways, throughout the year.

The following post gives details of  what is happening and some ideas that you can incorporate into your weekly routines to help you to be a connected global problem solver and to create a more sustainable future. If you can use your creative and critical thinking magic to think of anything else we can do, please share!

1./ Preschool are involved in growing plants that they hope to put in their giant moveable planter boxes to make their own Community Garden. By doing this they are connecting to our environment and adding more plants that give us oxygen and food.

photo 2


Slideshow Movie Here.


2./ Classes in grade two have been learning about the impact of food consumption on our world. They are conducting an inquiry and hope to take action on the following issues.


  • How can we reduce how much food packaging is sent to trash dumps from our snacks and food at home?
  • How can we make better choices in the canteen to reduce how much food is wasted?
  • How can we make less of an impact with the plates and utensils we use in the canteen?
  • How much food in the canteen is organic?
  • How can we upcycle used  food packaging into useful things.




Link to Grade Two Service and Environmental Inquiry here.

A number of classes in preschool, kindergarten and grade two have also used various innovative designs of recycled containers to plant food producing plants. We have lots of soil and seeds. If your class would like to do this to help you learn to be observant scientists or to connect and collaborate together and lock up Carbon  at the same time you can let Mr. Rea  know by emailing for help.


Kindergarten recycled materials planters here.

3./ Grade three classes have been learning about energy consumption. They are currently writing persuasive essays to encourage others to reduce their use of energy in our school community.

  • How can we reduce how much electricity we each consume individually and together?
  • Things like paper and marker pens require a lot of energy to make. How can we reduce the amount of these that we use.

Link to Grade Three Energy Unit Inquiry here.

4./  There are a number of teachers and kids who love to read and learn outside.  If you look out into the the ES playground in the morning you can often see Ms. Nika and the students she works with learning outside together.  The Grade Two, Invisible Tigers Class have a lovely time doing guided reading there on Wednesday afternoons and also Mrs. Patterson’s Grade Four Students have also taken advantage of the peaceful and calming feeling of being outside learning. It’s a natural thing to do but we often forget the space is there. The Community Garden is also brilliant for this.

When your class are outside you use much less energy. You do not need lights, IWB or aircon. The breeze and shade can help to keep you cool. Can you imagine if every class in ES did this once a week?! How much energy could we save? Why not give it a try ?

Nika Reading 3

Nika Reading 1

tigers reading 2

Tigers reading1



5./ The Community Garden AFAC Group have been busy thinking of many ways to help us question our carbon footprints and waste that is created. Here are some thoughts from them. Again if YOU have ideas get in touch and share them! Link to Community Garden Website here.  If you have any articles you would like to add to the site email them to and we will upload them.

  • Compost. The Garden Afac group have created a working compost bin. Things like vegetable peels, coffee grounds and paper produce methane as they decompose in trash dumps. Methane is thirty times stronger as a Green House gas than Carbon Dioxide! It’s a big contributor towards climate change. But if you put these things in a compost bin they become soil and do not give out anywhere near as much methane! Here is a list produced by a grade three gardener to show what can be added to our Community Garden Compost Bin.


Link to list of compostable items here.



How can your class collect these things to put them in our compost bin?


  • Pencil Shavings. Our classes produce a lot of these. Again they produce Methane as they decompose and again they could be composted! The Community Garden group have been creating boxes to save pencil shavings.


Could we bring one to your class for you to collect them? Or would you like to make your own one? You could add them to the compost bin. This could be one of your classroom jobs or your grade could collect them together.

6./Other things going on around the school.

  • Our service partners can turn many of the things we would otherwise throw away into wonderful products that they work hard to make and that can then be sold to help their communities. Across ISM this week we are launching a drive to remind our community to collect ring pulls, tetra packs, plastic bags and glossy magazines. We would also like to collect more aluminium drinks cans for our service partner, Berdesaco. Is there a way each grade could collect cans in their corridors?


  • Recycle your old books by bringing them in for the PTA used books sale! This way you help to conserve paper and help our wonderful PTA too!
  • Itime projects. Itime provides students with time to explore issues that matter to them. Here is an example of research from a grade two student on solar panels that has led to him making his own solar panels at home! Link here.
  • Come and visit the CMC where Ms. Pat has put together an area where she has placed a variety of books and resources geared towards sustainability. They can help your class with inquiry into aspects of environment and service to community that you can connect with your grade’s learning.

7./ Hs/MS No Impact Week events.

  • Eco will be showing The Lorax for their latest movie night to raise awareness of what happens when people become disconnected from their environment.




  • There will be a recycled art competition taking place also during no impact week.

Art Competition

  •  Earth Hour 2014 will be at 8:30pm on 29th March.



Grade Four Service and Environmental Learning 2013/14

3. Personal Meaning (Child Rights) Wk 19-28


Child rights

Unit Understanding.

We all have rights and together we can work towards upholding and protecting those rights.

Essential Questions.

Why do we need rights?

How are rights upheld?

What are the responsibilities that go along with rights?

Dispositions Comments.


Displaying signs of empathy, particularly when presented with sensitive material and experiences.

Transdisciplinary Skills Comments.


Being able to speak, write, read and listen and use visual media to persuade others to take action about a child rights issue.


Child Rights Performance Task.
You play a role in many different communities. You will choose one role that you are passionate about and explore your rights and responsibilities within that context. Focus in on one right that you have.


  • Why have you decided that this right is so important to you?
  • What do your responsibilities  include?
  • How do you make sure you’re fulfilling your responsibilities?

Your goal is to get your message across creatively and effectively while showing your understanding of these questions. You must first decide on your target audience.
Assessed on:

  • upholding rights- ability to set realistic goals and relate the goals to the right
  • identifying rights and responsibilities
  • determining importance of their choice
  • Effectiveness of the message in reaching the audience- rubric for their audience to fill out? Depending on the community they’ve chosen.

Service and Environmental Learning Aspect

The following indicate guiding questions to facilitate service and environmental inquiry. The possible actions listed below them are there to serve as suggestions for teachers to give them possible options to guide children’s inquiry into action. As always child led ideas either arising from these suggestions or completely original in source are of the utmost value.

During this unit children inquire into how  we all seek to live with purpose. Students inquire into the challenges and risks that children face.  They explore why we need rights and the responsibilities that go with these rights to add purpose to our lives.

1.The Right to an Education

How can we take action to engage local and international organisations to ensure every child receives an education?

Children could lobby local politicians and international organisations such as the UN to prioritise the  need of every child to receive an education. We can connect with other schools to do this.


This website entitled Send All My Friends to School offers a rich variety of resources on how to investigate this issue and ideas for action. It is useful as an example (from UK schools) of what can be done.



However there is an international campaign! It is called Global Campaign for Education. Here classes can sign up and use their twitter accounts to campaign on issues of children’s rights to education. It is key here for grade four students to understand that their voices count and can be part of meaningful change when they come together with other voices! 

2.The Right of Children with Disabilities to be able to access the World.


Are children with disabilities encountering barriers to receiving education and equal treatment?

-Watch Video here-

The Global Campaign for Education are running an action week from 4th-10th May 2014 to raise awareness and campaign for the rights of children with disabilities.

Read the link below for further information.


3.The Right to a Sustainable Environment

Grade one will be connecting with other grades during their plant growth unit from mid April to June. Could grade four children share with some grade one students about why we all have a right to a sustainable future? Together they could make connections between growing plants and having a sustainable future.

4.The Right to know what is in our Food 

Currently in the USA and the Philippines there is no legal obligation to label food containing GMO’s. Don’t we have a right to know what is in our food and how it is produced?

Who can we contact to campaign on this issue?

Are there GMO’s in our canteen food and the food sold in the cafeteria?

Children could campaign on this issue emailing local and international bodies.

Children can interview and investigate the Canteen to see if there are GMO’s in our food and take possible action from that.

5.The Right of Woman to Equal Treatment.

The UN Capital Development fund is seeking to promote equality for woman in the workplace.

In the Philippines there are a number of schemes involving Coffee growing for example which have been set up to provide opportunities for women to work and have sustainable livelihoods.



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ISM Community Gardens Project

In 2009 students, teachers and parents from ES, MS and HS all joined hands and built our ISM Community Garden! Since then we have been learning more about plants, making friends from all over our school and solving problems together.

Service Partners

By learning more about the people in our community we are able to help each other solve problems like trash, floods and poverty. Click here to find out more about our Service Partners, who they are, what they do and how you can get involved!

Service, Environment and Sustainability in the Wider ISM Community

Click here to discover more about the various service, environmental and sustainability initiatives happening in ISM.