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Educating for Sustainability: How I Helped Grade 9 Students Develop ESD and SEL Skills

Written by Helen Umeobieri, Global Schools Program Mentor and Advocate, Nigeria


In my role as a Global Schools Advocate, I believe that Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) will prepare students to respond to present and future challenges. As a Sustainability leader, I hold awareness and collaboration as a holistic approach to fast-track actions for a sustainable future. My continuous passion for helping students become problem solvers and not a part of the problem to be solved in my community has made me always seek ways I could improve my teaching methods to help them develop the right competencies.


In September 2022, I successfully adopted the inquiry and group discussion method to integrate SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) in my grade 9 Agricultural Science lesson.


Activities for the First Lesson

I assigned my students to findings about the packaging of agricultural produce, the various packing materials farmers use for their products, and the factors that affect their choice of packaging materials.


I grouped the students into 3, ensuring that both genders were represented in each group. I assigned 15 minutes to them to share and discuss their task about the outlined learning objectives and come up with a response.


Next, I allowed each group to select a representative who shared their ideas with the other peers. The students gave a detailed meaning of packaging in agriculture and identified examples of packaging materials used by farmers in the ancient and modern eras and factors influencing the choice of packaging materials used by farmers and agro-based industries.


Each of the representatives was able to effectively utilize 5 minutes to communicate their findings respectively. I concluded the first lesson by tasking them to make further inquiries about the SDGs related to class discussion with reasons.



Activities for the Second Lesson

During our second-class activity, my students were able to link the previous class discussion to the related SDGs with reasons. Below are some of their responses.

  • "I think packing in agriculture is related to SDG 12 which is Responsible Consumption and Production because if farmers package their farm produce with the right material, it will keep the goods from being damaged."

  • "I think proper packaging of agricultural produce, especially the edible ones, prevents food wastage, thereby reducing hunger."

I included the student's findings as part of their notes which will help them trust their capabilities to make reasonable contributions as they progress in life. I have equally adopted the same strategy to introduce other topics, such as Branding and Advertising in Agriculture, where the learners came up with creative designs to demonstrate the importance of branding and advertising in agriculture.



Conclusion

I enjoyed seeing every member of my class actively participating while I also identified some of their weaknesses and have been working to help them improve. They were also happy to highlight the core ESD competencies that the learning strategy enabled them to develop, including critical thinking, collaboration, self-awareness, communication, presentation, teamwork, and Social-Emotional Learning skills. I encourage every teacher to continuously adopt strategies that will promote student-centered learning.


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