By Kevin Rae
First published in ACCESS Spring 2013 e-zine
As a part of our International Primary Curriculum (IPC), students in Year 6 carry out an extensive river study in the cross curricular unit titled “Go with the flow”.
The ‘Big Idea’ of the unit is that the world’s rivers are our most precious resource, and during the course of their studies the students investigate the impact of the world’s rivers on people and landscapes in the past, present and future.
As with all our IPC units once the students have been stimulated by the ‘Entry Point’ the teachers carry out a ‘Knowledge Harvest’ in the form of a mind map. The students are encouraged to note all that they know about rivers, including famous rivers, physical characteristics, wildlife, environmental issues, reasons for people in the past wanting to live near rivers, etc. Their prior knowledge, skills and understanding are then developed throughout the unit. The teachers facilitate the students’ learning in a number of specific curriculum areas, which are clearly articulated, e.g., “We are learning about rivers, through our geography lens.” Curriculum areas that are covered in the unit include:
- Geography – physical and human
- Science – physical and environmental
- Technology – bridge building
- History – the importance of rivers on all aspects of life with a focus on the River Nile and Ancient Egypt
- Society and International – the importance of rivers as a source of drinking water, river management and its impact on communities around the world
Experiential learning drives the whole unit and one of the highlights is taking part in the worldwide Walking for Water campaign. Walk4Water is an annual awareness and fundraising initiative that takes place around World Water Day (22 March). The initiative culminates with the students participating in an organised walk, once they are sponsored by families and friends, to carry up to 6 litres of water in rucksacks, around a predetermined route. There are two major outcomes of the initiative; firstly that students learn about global
water issues and secondly they raise funds to help solve them. Experts visit the school and the students learn about the importance of clean drinking water and proper sanitation. They also develop an understanding of what children their age and younger in developing countries have to do to get clean water on a daily basis, often at the expense of going to school. The initiative raises more than €1,200,000 each year and we are very proud of our students’ contribution to this effort.
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