Take action. Make Waves!

Ocean School aims to support learners in applying their knowledge to make change, one small step at a time. We wish to provide a real sense of agency: every one of us can help shape a common future that includes a healthy and productive ocean.

Why take action?

Learning that takes place in a community context contributes to improved thinking and problem solving. Help your students connect what they’ve learned in Ocean School to their local community and habitats. For example, students might investigate a local wetland or consult a local environmental group about issues in their community for which they can design actions.

Consider taking this project out of the classroom by reaching out to community contacts that students can consult as they define their problems and solutions.

Through taking action, students can develop a sense of empowerment and confidence in their ability to influence change.

What actions can students take?

Ocean School learners have proposed many creative action plans, and here are some suggestions for inspiration:

  • Design an infographic to share learning with other learners.
  • Make a podcast to share learning about ocean systems with the community.
  • Create a water-quality monitor using a Raspberry Pi.
  • Interview members of the community to report different perspectives on an issue.
  • Write a letter to a political representative.
  • Create digital stories on an important issue and hold a screening.
  • Create a persuasive poster about a marine conservation issue.
  • Investigate ways to protect a local habitat.
  • Organize a talk by a local conservation body.
  • Organize a shoreline clean-up.

How do I guide my students?

It can take courage and practice to step back from explicit instruction while still providing structure, support and feedback. Inquiry-based learning needs structure to be effective. It’s not about giving up control, but building the confidence and skills of your students over time to take increasingly greater responsibility for planning and assessing their own learning. The Take Action is a great opportunity to do this.

The first step to taking action is to identify a problem. We encourage you to investigate possibilities for taking action in your community ahead of time so that you can support your students, and brainstorm places or people that might need their help.

“But there’s no ocean here!”

The ocean can teach us lessons that transfer across geographical and cultural contexts. Ask students guiding questions that help them to draw local connections. How does the pulp mill down the road affect nearby habitats? How does our local plastic-recycling program work?

Once you and your students have identified problems in your community, support the students as they take the lead and follow their interests.


Plan to take action

The Ocean School Take Action planner scaffolds the learner as they describe 1) goals for change, 2) what activities are required, and 3) what resources are needed to make the plan a success. We modelled our Take Action planner on participatory-action planning models used around the world.

Tips for planning with your students:

  • Set SMART Goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Without a defined goal, learners won’t know if they achieved what they set out to achieve. As your students define their actions, take time to help them check that their goal is SMART.
  • Coach and challenge assumptions – Your students may need some coaching throughout the process to propose realistic solutions. Set aside some class time for feedback opportunities. Students will need specific, descriptive feedback on collecting data, evaluating sources and communicating their ideas.
  • Make time – We’ve learned that learners’ action plans are the most creative when they’re given plenty of time to develop their plans. Budget time to focus on skills such as asking great questions, gathering data, or giving and receiving constructive feedback.

Preview the Take Action planner here

Take Action

Take action

All the planning is done—now it’s time to implement! When the action is complete, give your students time to reflect on their projects. Discuss what went well and what they would do differently next time.