Limehouse Public School spent a couple of months this semester completing a character development project called, The Actions of Love, after learning Grade 5 student, Declan, had done something similar with his aunt.
The Actions of Love is a multimedia project involving a book and a documentary/weblog examining character building. Each class explored a different value under the umbrella of love: friendship, respect, courage and kindness to name a few. This resulted in the creation of a full-sized coffee table keepsake book (with the option of handbooks and iPad versions), illustrating their unique ideas around love. As well, a web video was produced, with the permission of parents, in which students talked about their definition of love.
The project, which is also being recognized as part of the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations, really galvanized the K-Grade 5 school, says Limehouse Vice-Principal Carolyn Reist.
Reist says the school is always trying to find ways of building character with students and when the idea was brought to her about creating The Actions of Love, she thought this would be another effective way of doing that. She discussed it with other parents and teachers to get their thoughts. The school also looked to make sure this kind of project followed the provincial curriculum. Reist says it did, following requirements to teach areas like healthy active living, positive behaviour, decision-making and conflict resolution.
Receiving staff support for the project, the school started with one class, examining the word friendship, to see how the idea worked. It worked really well and Reist says the goal was for the entire school to take on this project.
“They knew their voice counted,” Reist says of the students’ reaction, referring to the their process of writing and drawing in the book, as well as video work. “We have to know how to develop the character of our children. They turned their project into a fabulous monument of their thoughts. You see their depth of understanding of certain words grow as you turn the pages in the book. I believe they felt there was power in what they were creating.”
The students feel their work is valuable.
Grade 5 student Wayne wrote about courage, using Terry Fox as an example.
“I learned sometimes you need to be brave and you can get a good result in the end,” he explains.
Elia, in Grade 5, learned how to be courageous from what her friends wrote and said on video.
“If I know I need someone to stand up for me, they will be at my side.”
Declan’s mom, Lisa Lightbourn, provided the technical expertise. She says she would like to see The Actions of Love project evolve to a point where students from other schools interact to share their thoughts about different feelings to better understand one another.
Going forward, Reist views this project serving as some kind of teaching tool.
“I see this as a beautiful book for coaching. I was thrilled to be involved in the project. It started small but kept growing and growing.”