We are Ashleigh and Doug! We are passionate educators living busy lives in an even busier metropolis. We are devoted teachers who aim to bring authentic learning outside and help students connect to nature in a bustling, concrete Toronto neighbourhood.
During the Spring of 2015, a television commercial that emphasized the rapidly declining bee population inspired us to bring this world issue into our classrooms and open a discussion amongst our students. What followed was the beginning of an inquiry project; a journey to create sustainable gardens on the school grounds for the purpose of attracting pollinators while getting our students outside and involved in hands-on learning. This discovery helped catapult our programs into a 3-year school- wide initiative. Along with students, staff and community, we learned to change our roles as humans using the environment for our own personal gain. We became conservationists working together to protect our own living greenspace.
Three years later, students have become independent learners, innovative knowledge builders and creative thinkers. By focusing on the authentic problem of the declining bee population, students are continually empowered to explore their own school community potential and develop ownership of their learning. Creating and tending to a pollinator- friendly garden helps students connect to nature as they learn about native plant species and how pollinators help to sustain natural environments. Researching and building structurally sound and visually stimulating “Bee Hotels” offers experiential learning and opportunities for students to solve problems using real-world contexts.
As recipients of the prestigious 2018 EdCan Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Education, we are dedicated to realizing the change that school communities can make by embracing the environment as an outdoor, authentic learning space. Ultimately, an initial brainstorming session designed to involve students in their Science lesson, exploded into a massively successful project that we simply could not have imagined. We are so excited to see how our project will continue to grow as we continue to learn about the impact of pollinators on our lives in our very busy, bustling metropolis.