Today’s guest blog comes from Christina Mesiano, a teacher at the Pineland Learning Center in Vineland, New Jersey, USA. Her class recently found inspiration from A Plastic Ocean.

Hall of Change at Pineland Learning CenterDuring a discussion about current world events, the 5/6 class at the Pineland Learning Center was in awe as they watched a impactful video about the death of a  Cuvier’s beaked whale who had 4kg of plastic bags in stomach .  The students were more than eager to know more and their teachers, Ms. Mesiano and Ms. Jones, knew they had to jump on this teachable moment.  

With Earth Day approaching they knew this would be a great opportunity to study the effects of plastic on our oceans. After they watched the documentary A Plastic Ocean  the lesson took on a whole life of its own.  The students asked to create a hallway exhibit to share with their fellow Pineland students.  They worked for weeks reading, writing, designing and creating power point slides to educate others to be mindful in their daily lives when disposing of plastics, as well as alternatives to plastic use.  Students also decided that their “Hall of Change” display would be best presented with personal tours. This added a whole new element in practicing public speaking and creating an effective presentation to get others as interested in saving the oceans as they were.  They even created bins then invited both staff and students to bring in their plastic shopping bags so our class could bring them to local stores that recycle the bags.

Pineland Learning Center whaleThe 5/6 grade classes were very excited to see the cover of National Geographic Magazine the following month when it featured the growing pollution of our oceans from plastic.   They were happy to see the word was getting out and realized the power of education to make positive changes in the world. Both Ms. Mesiano and Ms. Jones feel fortunate to work in a school that allows this creative approach to teaching and gives opportunities to students to be involved in projects that motivate them to reach beyond the everyday routine of learning. When students are engaged and motivated like they were for this project, the possibilities for growth both academically and behaviorally are endless.

Thank you for being a part of this motivation by providing a very well done documentary and supplemental project for us to use as a guide in this endeavor.

Please enjoy this gallery of images from this project created by the amazing students of Pineland Learning Center: