Tag Archives: Action

Action IS Caring

This year I introduced an action mascot and slogan as a part of our focus on action FOR and FROM learning. Meet Care Bear. Care Bear arrived at our first assembly and shared the story, “Have You Filled A Bucket Today?” Care Bear then challenged all of our students to a year of showing caring through daily acts of caring and kindness. Care Bear invited students to fill her bucket with hearts all year. Care Bear’s big silver bucket is in a location that is accessible to all students. Students are encouraged to record daily acts of caring that are done to them or that they observe on pink hearts and drop them in Care Bear’s bucket. Each week at assembly during our weekly action update, Care Bear shares hearts from her bucket to honour daily acts of caring and kindness. Acts of kindess range from: including friends in games and play, holding doors for others, sharing supplies, giving hugs, telling jokes to make others laugh, helping to clean up, etc.

Care Bear and her bucket.
Care Bear and her bucket.

Care Bear also spends time visiting each class for a week. Students are loving taking Care Bear with them around the school, on field trips and to special events and showing her how kind and caring they can be where ever they go. Many classes have created Animoto’s to share at assemblies to highlight Care Bear’s experience in their class; another class wrote a song about being a Care Bear that is now Care Bear’s jingle and sung each week at assembly; our SK class made a video about bullying and stopping it by showing caring; while others add little embellishments to her that represent something special that happened with Care Bear while in their class during the week. Parents stop and tell me that at home students are talking about Care Bear and teaching siblings about bucket filling. One dad described how he overheard his daughters having a disagreement

Care Bear's Bucket is filling with hearts!
Care Bear’s Bucket is filling with hearts!

and one of them announced, “You’re not filling my bucket. We need to be more caring!” Much to his surprise, the argument stopped and they moved on to something more positive.

Recently, students completed Learner Profile reflections that go home with their report cards. I was so inspired so inspired to see even our littlest JKs reflecting on the importance being caring. Here is an example of what one 4 year old expressed: “Care Bear came to our classroom to be caring. Caring is when you are nice. I am caring when I play. If I am playing dolls I am caring when I talk to my friend in a nice way and say, “Can I have that after you?”

A Grade 1 student's Care Bear inspired goal!
A Grade 1 student’s Care Bear 

The way that students are embracing Care Bear’s challenge far exceeds my initial vision. Care Bear has garnered rock star status at our school – no doubt because caring ROCKS!!!









Be a care bear

And say “let’s play”

Be a care bear

Again another day

First you, then me

Now two, then three

Be a care bear

And say “let’s play!

Be a care bear

Lend a helping hand

Be a care bear

Work with a friend

I’ll share with you

I’ll be there for you

Be a care bear

Lend a helping hand!

Be a care bear

Comfort someone sad

Be a care bear

Make sure they don’t feel bad

Hold hands, give a hug

Stay close, feel snug

Be a care bear!

Comfort someone sad!

Learning “INexperience”…from lemons to lemonade!

Summer is here in this part of the world and with it comes heat, and heat brings thirst. What better way than to quench your thirst with a nice, cold glass of lemonade. This is what my 9 year old twins decided about a week ago. They have toyed with the idea of opening a lemonade stand for the last few summers but it never quite came to fruition. Well, during my absence from home at the start of the week they opened a lemonade stand, and I am in awe of the learning that is happening as they independently follow through with and implement their plan. They are learning “IN experience”, which is really what the heart of inquiry based learning is all about. It’s kind of ironic that learning “IN experience” can also be read as “learning inexperience”. Both statements are true to inquiry – inquiry is all about taking on the unknown and making it into a known – both “inexperience” and “IN experience”.

The kids started with an idea, prepared a plan and took action: they researched the cost of lemons and the other ingredients they would need, they came up with their lemonade recipe (the best I’ve ever had!), they made a marketing plan, gathered supplies, and then they set to work. In implementing their plan, they’ve learned what it means to break even, make a profit and take a loss; the importance of counting your money just right; they’ve learned about supply and demand, and quality control; ways to drum up business when it is slow, and what it means to have a slow business day. Best of all, they’ve learned team work as they’ve relied on each other and the two neighborhood friends who’ve set up an iced tea business along with them. None of this learning happened at a desk or under the carefully structured school learning environment. It happened because they had an idea, worked through their own inexperience IN experience by choosing, acting and reflecting. All along the way they continue to make decisions about their lemonade business to improve and grow it. The best thing of all is that I have had absolutely nothing to do with this little learning venture except to buy myself a glass of lemonade and toast the success of their endeavour. So what do you do when life throws you lemons? …Make lemonade of course! Thanks kids!

Action FOR Learning

Success Ahead .. Helping others is a pillar of...

Action FOR learning is something a learner does to enhance or improve their learning process, in the moment or in the future. Action FOR learning is not the result of a topic or global issue –it is the direct result of learners realizing that they can do something to help themselves grow as learners. It is action that takes place through on-going reflection on the learning process. Action FOR learning is always happening – if it isn’t, then the learner might as well be dead to the learning process. It is not rocket science and it doesn’t involve changing the world AROUND the learner. Instead, it involves changing the world WITHIN the learner. Action FOR learning looks, sounds and feels many different ways – it’s as unique as each learner. It its truest form, action FOR learning is about setting goals followed by taking action to grow. Action FOR learning is inquiry in action. Learners need to know that inquiring into themselves just as important as inquiring into other people and issues.

Here’s what some Grade 5 students defined action FOR learning as, after participating in an action exploration workshop. I couldn’t put it better myself…

Action FOR Learning…

  • Is personal learning
  • Is something you do to improve your learning
  • Helps you learn and think
  • Enhances your learning and the learning of others
  • A way to get better/improve
  • Helps us understand more
  • Happens DURING the learning process (choose, act, reflect)
  • Doing something after reflecting
  • Leads us to taking action FROM our learning
  • Examples include: looking for connections, sharing connections, taking descriptive feedback and turning it into a goal, reflecting and making personal changes

Adults in a learning community need to share their action FOR learning process with their students (or children!). Students need to see that action FOR learning is a part of being a responsible lifelong learner – when we know better, we do better! We are the creators of our own change.

What do you do to take action FOR your learning as an educator? What opportunities do you provide for the learners in your care to reflect and grow through action FOR learning?

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” (Carl Jung)

Action FROM Learning

It is not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.   Leo T. Buscaglia


Action FROM learning is something a learner chooses to do because of what they are learning or have learned. This type of action is a spark ignited by passion. Action FROM learning ranges from smaller scale actions taken by a learner such as changing something they personally do to make the world better (e.g. turning the tap off when brushing teeth) to larger scale action that involves others and requires a plan to follow through (e.g. organizing a clothing drive for a homeless shelter). Action FROM learning happens because something the learner was exposed to triggered them to take the “what” of their learning beyond the 4 walls of the classroom and out into the wider world. The learning brought the learner to the realization that they have a responsibility and that they can DO something about it.

Action FROM learning needs to be modelled, encouraged and fostered within a school community. Learners need to understand intrinsically that action is a process and that when they engage in a cycle of action, not only are they doing something to make a difference for others, they are also creating an opportunity for personal growth and reflection. This process can be simple as a realization and making a simple lifestyle change, or it can be complex and involve many steps.  Each time a learner chooses, acts and reflects, he/she deepens his/her understanding of themselves and their connection to others. When a learner completely follows through with an action thought or idea, whether it’s as simple as holding the door open for someone or as complex as organizing a large scale fund raiser, their action helps them to  become a better person by helping others or the world. Ultimately they help themselves as their own outlook on the world changes or shifts as they create impact around them.

For the last 10 years I have had the privilege of mentoring young learners through the action cycle. I don’t see myself as a teacher of action, but as a mentor. I am there to help big and small dreams become reality by supporting students as they seek to change the world and create impact. Kids are big dreamers and when they are moved to take action, especially larger scale action, they are as Craig Keilberger calls them, “shameless idealists”. Sadly, reality has the power to crush even the biggest idealists.  As an action mentor, I support the idealists in also being realists so that they don’t give up on their action dream, because there is no greater reward than seeing the action process through with the knowledge that change was instigated either near or far.

Critical to action FROM learning is that it connect to an ISSUE. Taking meaningful action is not about an event, which is a common pitfall to look out for when mentoring students through the action process. So many kids come to me saying, “I want to have a bake sale” or “I want to sell bracelets.” My questions back to them are always “What issue is it that you care about/are passionate about? WHY do you want to do this?/Why is this important to you?” Those 2 questions have resulted in major shifts in the culture of action in the two schools where I’ve taken on the action mentor charge. Students no longer come to me with an “action event”. Instead, they come with a cause or issue and the action is born out of their passion for that issue. Most frequently, the issue connects to an issue they’ve explored in class or to something they’ve talked about at home, or even something they saw in the newspaper/news/on-line. Once the issue is clearly defined, then we explore the “doability” factor: “Is this action possible/doable? What is our goal? How can we make it happen? What might get in our way? What do we need? What is our timeline? How much support will we need from others? How much education/awareness raising needs to be done to gain the support of our peers’, teachers and/or parents? Are we willing to change our plan if we need to to ensure this action happens?” A nice byproduct about supporting and mentoring action in this way, is that students always raise awareness first because they naturally want to educate others about what they care about. For larger scale action, awareness within the bigger community is paramount to the overall success of the action.

When I mentor students through an action plan, we work under the following guidelines:

Central/Big Idea: Understanding issues that affect us, our community and our world can help us to take meaningful action to make a difference.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • Issues affecting us, our community and our world
  • Working together to make a difference
  • Planning for, implementing and reflecting on action/service

Guiding Questions:

CHOOSE: What (issue) will we take action for? (local or global?)

ACT: How will we achieve our action goal? What steps will we take?

REFLECT: How successfully did we achieve our action goal?

These guidelines help us to share a collective focus and ensure that the action our students follow through with has a clear and meaningful purpose and that it is highly effective. Successful action leads to more action – it becomes a part of the values of the school community and it is celebrated and honoured as an important part of the learning process.

Stay tuned for the next post: an exploration of “Action FOR Learning”