need a continued practice as the world comes out of the pandemic? Now that we have seen the power of choices, what if there was a way to foster that drive for social change using the power in our classrooms?


“The whole planet is at stake. So this is a moment to recognize that the way we have been moving leads nowhere and that we need to change course.” – António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations (Sept. 19, 2020)

In 2015, the 193 member states of the

United Nations agreed to 17 goals to be met within 15 years. They called these goals the UN Global Goals for Sustain- able Development (UNGGSD). Leaders in the efforts to meet these goals get together every September to discuss how countries are doing with the targets in each of the 17 areas. By 2030, work in these areas is intended to reduce poverty, tackle climate change and improve the sustainability of ecozones worldwide. Bringing UNGGSD into your class is easy and there is nothing like a global pan- demic to get us thinking about how to build a more sustainable future. Within each goal there are many targets that provide the op- portunity to link goals to the curriculum or the events you are discussing in class. For example, Goal 10, Reduced Inequality linked to our discussions around Orange Shirt Day and Goal 15: Life on Land con- nected nicely to a Grade 1 Life Systems discussion about what would happen if mosquitos disappeared. There is even a collection of comics written for the global goals which tie into Literacy. The goals are broad enough to provide entry points for homeroom and rotary teachers.

For example:

( communications-material/)

Goal 2: Zero Hunger Ensure access to clean, nutritious food for everyone especially people who are vulner- able. (link to Healthy Living and Geogra- phy)

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Prevent substance abuse and promote mental health and wellness. (link to Healthy Living, Science, Math and Media)


Goal 10: Reduced Inequality

Make sure everyone, especially those who are inadequately supported, has equitable access to housing, food, education, work and medical care. (link to Social Studies, Literacy, Science)

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Reduce food waste and achieve sustainable management of natural resources. (link to Ecology, Ecoschools, Healthy Living and Data Management)

The United Nations Global Goals for

Sustainable Development have been one way I have approached creating an environ- ment of hopeful innovation in my class- room. Through its site and the companion education site, The World’s Largest Lesson, I have been able to bring advocacy, a sense of empowerment and, more importantly, a sense of hope to conversations about equity and the environment.

“I think you can be a change maker right now. If you are 11, if you are 16, if you are, you know, 30, 40. Change is possible anytime and I want you to believe in yourself and make this world a fairer, a more equal and a better place for each and every one.” – Malala Yousafzai, Urgent Solu- tions for Urgent Times, YouTube


To introduce the Global Goals, I use a video from the Global Goals YouTube channel (my students like “World’s Largest Lesson: Our Inspiration,” which shows children finding solutions narrated by Emma Wat- son). I also have a set of cards with the im- age for each Global Goal on one side and one or two targets on the back written in age-appropriate language. Depending on the grade, give the student

or group of students a choice of two, four or six of the cards so they can choose the Global Goals they are interested in. They will be challenged to build a solution to meet one of the goals using what we call “loose parts.” Loose parts can be anything (my loose part bags have sticks, stones, Plasticine, cut up cereal boxes, twist ties, paper, plastic figures, marbles and string) and we reuse the parts to build challenges throughout the year. This is a quick build; they only have 20 minutes and there is no incorrect answer. After 20 minutes, ask volunteers to pres- ent their ideas and the Global Goal they

want to target. Have some fun with the pre- sentations and celebrate their success as the world-changing brave people they are. Here are some ideas I have used:

• Put up a flashy slide and power music and have them strut the innovation on an imagined red carpet.

• Invite a member of the administration via Google meet or in person to be the “Drag- on” for a Dragons’ Den style presentation.

• Create amazing improvised commercials complete with a rhyming slogan.

Now that the students have selected the

target or targets they are interested in, frame the conversation with real world examples, coding challenges and simulations using the ideas in The World’s Largest Lesson. This website will give you the tools to explore spe- cific Global Goals in more detail including simulations, videos, comics, build challenges and coding activities. In Canada, kidscode- jeunesse and the Ontario Science Centre have guided tutorials for coding activities using the Global Goals and the Micro:bit. For example, my students tackled the goal of healthy living by coding and testing a step counter and a mindful breathing app.


“Everything that we do now is going to make a difference in our future. So we need to ask ourselves, what are we going to be in the story that we are in right now? Are we going to be a villain or are we going to be a hero? But one thing is absolutely for sure. Whatever we do right now is going to be the next part of the story.” – Bomgiizhik (Isaac Murdoch) ( sacred-fisher-story.html)

Now that students have a general over-

view of the Global Goals, post the images and connect them to the stories in your class. In my experience, students are most passion- ate about the goals if the goals link to some- one or something they actually know. You can collect stories from local newspapers, use interviews with family members or take photos and simply ask, “What do you notice? What do you wonder?” A student in Grade 7 heard her mom

telling stories about difficulties getting her twin stroller around local businesses and it prompted her to look at Goal 10: Reduced Inequality. She wrote letters to stores asking for wider passages between shelves and cre- ated a list of local businesses with working

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