EDUC6103: Genius Hour Project

EDUC6103 Education for Sustainability & Entrepreneurship

A Genius Hour of Genius Hour At Montrose School

By Danielle Shrumm


The purpose of this Genius Hour project has been for me to go through the Genius Hour process using Design Thinking as a tool to plan a Genius Hour project for my grade 3/4 students at Montrose School. 

Background Information:

This is my fourth year teaching at Montrose School and my third year doing Genius Hour (GH) projects. Over the years we have made big and small changes to GH, yet the common theme is:

Doing. A. Genius. Hour. Project! 

We have learned many things along the way and our learning will not be over anytime soon!

This is how Genius Hour has progressed for us:

*First of al I should let you know that he “us” I refer to is my teacher partner, Helen at Montrose School (on my Grade 3/4 team)!

Year One: We feel like should do a GH project, but we have no idea what to do, so we decide to learn more about it and try next year

Year Two: We’ve done some reading, but there is a lot of information about GH, so we decide to just start and see how it goes!

Year Three: The kids loved doing a GH, but we had a big question for ourselves: How can we make GH better? *Note: This is the year that I started my class off with doing Genius Hour and then our Inquiry Support Teacher took over. I was given the opportunity to get our whole school’s Friluftsliv (Outdoor Education) program up and running. When I was out of the room one day of our six day school cycle, it made sense to leave my replacement (the Inquiry Support Teacher) something that he could build on from week to week. It also made sense for him to actually do a Genius Hour with a class instead of telling people how to do one without ever going through the process himself. The challenge was that I was disconnected from the process and felt that I wanted to be more hands on. The students were given a booklet to use as direction this year, but again we needed to evolve our expectations of GH and I knew that I needed to play more of a role in it.

Year Four: (This current year): Our plan as classroom teachers was to work with our Inquiry Support teacher, but he had other plans. Fast forward a few months and…still not started. This Genius Hour assignment has been a great motivator and opportunity to get things going! Working with my amazing teaching partner, we began the process of GH ourselves!

*One important addition is the suspension of schools due to Covid-19. This has created a change in how I have been able to implement and oversee the “test” phase of the Design Process, yet has still offered valuable information. Once we are back at school I will be able to try again teaching this process “in person”.

Genius Hour Process/Design Thinking:

Some of the major influences, for me as well as countless others, when it comes to Genius Hour and Design Thinking are John Spencer and A. J. Juliani. If you are unfamiliar with their work but interested in doing your own GH projects, PBL (Project Based Learning) strategies or Design Thinking then visiting the websites of these two authors is a great way to start!

We have definitely used resources, templates, videos, etc. from these two in order to help shape what we have created during this Genius Hour of a Genius Hour!

In fact, my favourite videos to share with parents and students to explain what Genius Hour is are:

My teaching partner Helen and I teach very similarly and we use a team teaching approach for most of what we teach. Her help during this process has been very valuable to me for this particular project, but our ability to work together to further our students’ learning is also incredibly powerful.

In a previous course (EDUC6109: Transformative Education: Teaching for Creativity) I did an assignment about Genius Hour and how I could do a ‘revamp’ of what I already do. We used this as a tool to help us plan our own GH project!

Image of the Design Process that I created in my previous course

D. Shrumm Teaching for Creativity Genius Hour

(PDF version of my previous assignment)


What matters to us is that our students are taught meaningful learning tools and strategies that they can use for a variety of subject matter and after instruction will be able to work on independently for things they are curious and passionate about.

Step 2: DEFINE-

Our students need a Genius Hour that uses the Design Thinking Process because it will teach them how to learn in ways that are important to them about material they are curious about.

Step 3: IDEATE-

  1. Find a prepackaged Genius Hour template and let the students work thought it
  2. Create a Genius Hour template from scratch
  3. Find Genius Hour resources and make tweaks to what our students need
  4. Let the students figure out what Genius Hour is and isn’t on their own
  5. Create a school wide “Genius Hour” fair (like a Science Fair)


We’ve decided to move forward with Idea #3. To do this we will ‘scour’ the resources out there and make the ‘tweaks’ we think make sense for our learners.

*More on our PROTOTYPE later!

Step 5: TEST-

The test phase has changed from what our original plans were. Once our prototype was complete we sent it off to our school division’s printshop and were going to spend the last two weeks of school before Spring Break to do a GH project with our students using our prototype and testing it out! However, due to unforeseen circumstances, our test phase has moved to being tested at home during our “virtual teaching and learning sessions”.

*More on my “new” version of the TEST later!


-In order to put together a GH project for our students, we searched for resources and also created our own. We felt that at this point, this IDEA from the IDEATE process was the best fit.

We worked on a lot of things at once!  In the end this is what we have come up with!

We used a template we had found from for the students to keep track of their Design Thinking Process.


We had our package back from the printshop and had our schedules ready for the last two weeks of school before Spring Break to test out our prototype. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 our plans needed to be shifted. With classes being suspended we needed to be able to send the project home. Each student was sent home with a paper copy of our GH package and were asked to wait for further instructions. I created resource for parents and students explaining what GH is (including videos, storybooks read on YouTube, etc.) called “Before You Begin Genius Hour” and an audio recording to match a photo of each page in the package. 

This is the video I sent to the students before I posted their GH assignment!

Genius Hour Before You Begin!

(PDF of a GH overview for the families)

Genius Hour Process

(PDF of some reminders of the order to do things in)

(Audio with image explaining the “Step by Step to Genius Hour”)

(Audio with image explaining the “Design Thinking for Students”)

(Audio with image explaining  “Ideate/Prototype”)

(Audio with image explaining the “Research Log”)

(Audio with image explaining the “Self Reflection”)


-Students still had a lot of questions and were unable to use their parents as their guide (still wanting my approval on everything)

-The Empathy and Define sections needed much more explanation. The students simply wanted to “jump in” and make something (they were treating this more like a Maker Space activity)

-Not many students were ready to participate in the GH project at this time. I think the families are feeling overwhelmed with working from home. I offered this as an optional project and it is my assumption that it’s too much for home (for now at least)

-This is a much easier process to do in person than it is online

-It makes me reconsider our approach in general. If the students are coming to us without ever spending much time doing Maker Space type projects or have had choice in what they learn, then they really just want to explore and discover on their own

-We are unsure at this point which tweaks we will need to make as we are not able to know exactly what has been used by our students


-An option for us may include starting the year with more “free” design thinking plans and work our way up to more of a structured plan

-Perhaps as a school we have a system that is more like a continuum approach so we can ensure students are getting this type of learning across all the grades. If this were to happen then we’d need to share this vision with our administrator and see what role the Inquiry Support Teacher could play

-More emphasis needs to be on empathy and how that can lead to a project, developing a guiding question and what role research plays in all of this

-Differentiating between GH, Design Thinking and Maker Space opportunities

-Creating different expectations for grade 3 and grade 4 students, or for students with varying needs (like a “beginner” and “more advanced”-wth this one being for the more advanced)

-Do whole class projects first so students understand the process and expectations better


-This process has been very valuable for myself and my colleague. We have come up with a process for our students that has the potential to work, with again some tweaks! 

-This has proved that we are open to giving things a try, even when we aren’t sure they will work. This is a good lesson to share with the students as it shows we are all learners and that learning is a process

-We’ll try again when we get back to school!


-There is so much potential to use sustainability as a focus in a Genius Hour and Design Thinking Process project. Incorporating sustainability is my goal in all that I teach and to me I think a GH project is a perfect avenue to embed sustainability in seamless and natural ways. I believe this is where the empathy piece can really come into action. I included a section on sustainability  in my “Before You Begin” page for students and families. Had I been teaching this process at school this is where I’d really stop and focus on what sustainability is and remind students why this is so important to us as humans. This is a step in the process as a whole that I feel cannot be left out.


I’d like to thank my colleague, Helen Mather-Oliver, for her support and collaboration during this process. 


Chris Kelser. (2013, September 6).  What is genius hour?-Introduction to genius hour in the classroom [Video File]. Retrieved from

John Spencer. (2017, March 9). What is genius hour? An overview of genius hour and 20% time in the classroom [Video File]. Retrieved from

John Spencer. (2017, August 25). You get to have your own genius hour (a video for students) [Video File]. Retrieved from

Makers Empire. Design thinking for students. Retrieved from

Spencer, J. & Juliani, A.J. (2017). Empower: What happened when students own their learning. IMpower.

Spencer, J. & Juliani, A.J. (2016). Launch: Using design thinking to boost creativity and bring out the maker in every student. San Diego, CA. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.





EDUC6103: The Cost of Convenience-Deep Learning Food Challenge

EDUC6103: The Cost of Convenience-Deep Learning Food Challenge


Over the years I have felt both upset and guilty from the conveniences we have grown to expect as we shop for groceries and consume snacks and meals in and outside of our homes. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “cost of convenience” and have used this Deep Learning Food Challenge as a way to question my own consumption habits and invite others in my life to do the same. Taking the time to really look at our choices, consider alternatives and choose ways to make changes in our own lives is a great way to make positive impacts in our world. We don’t need to do everything perfectly when it comes to clean eating or waste free living, but even if we each focused on one small goal we’d be making a positive impact. One goal practiced enough times becomes a habit and once something has become a habit we can choose a new goal and continue with this pattern. It makes “big ideas” such as waste reduction easier to manage and to stick to.

Don’t worry about being perfect…just find a place to start!

Why is convenience so important to us?

In my opinion, one of the most important reasons is: Time!

We are in a hurry a lot of the time and when we can eliminate or ‘shave off’ time in someway, it is very appealing to us. Some ways we use to help save time include: getting groceries delivered or using a grocery pick up service, using a meal subscription service, eating out, etc. These ideas save time with: thinking of meal ideas, purchasing or preparing food and even clean up. Time not spent doing the above tasks allows for more time to get where we need to be, balance a home/school/work lifestyle, spend the time in other ways (such as with our families and friends), etc.


Let’s consider what the convenience might be costing us

Questions to consider:

Have you ever…

-grabbed a coffee on a whim and used a disposable cup?

-bought fruit or vegetables that were pre-cut/washed and packaged instead of buying your own and preparing them at home?

-ate breakfast, lunch or dinner that you picked up “on the go” for no reason other than you wanted to?

-thrown away leftovers after days of keeping them in your fridge, instead of actually eating them?

-brought home leftovers from a restaurant even though you doubted you’d eat them?

-bought healthy foods that you knew you should eat but let them spoil?

-thrown expired food out in the container instead of reusing or recycling the container because it was easier to toss the whole thing?

-bought food because it was a good deal knowing that it would likely expire before you ate it?

-purchased a larger container/package of food because it cost less money, even though you knew you wouldn’t use it?

-have you used a food subscription service for its convenience?

-thrown food away and not think about what happens to it or worry about being able to get more food at your earliest convenience?

I personally can answer yes to many of the questions above. I am not proud of this by any means and am actually very embarrassed to admit that I am guilty of these actions, but this also is what has inspired me to delve deeper into this topic and make the decision to reduce making choices based on convenience. I know I am not alone in this and have decided to attempt to get others to question their choices too!

This is often what we see while at the grocery store. The temptation of shopping for convenience is all around us.

Ready for more questions?!…

-Have you ever bought a coffee in a single use cup, felt guilty about it and planned to use a reusable cup next time?

-Have you ever bought food that is already prepared for you and thought about what the store/restaurant does with the scraps and leftover food? (Do they compost? Is any food donated to those in need? What ingredients get repurposed for other food items?, etc.)

-Have you ever bought food “on the go” but then thought about how you could be more prepared and next time bring something from home?

-Have you ever brought leftovers home and made sure you ate them?

-Have you ever reused containers that food was purchased in? (example: yogurt containers, to go containers, etc.)

-Have you ever felt guilty about some of your purchasing choices and made changes the next time?

-Have you ever considered the idea of what convenience costs us?

If you have answered yes to these questions then you might be ready to make some changes with your purchases and understand that our desire to have things so convenient has a major impact on our planet.

What choice will you make?

How true is this statement?

Digging a Little Deeper:Even if we feel like we do a pretty good job about being careful what we purchase as far as food goes, we need to consider the conveniences we have at home that help us to:

-heat our food

-keep it cool and fresh

-clean our dishes, etc.

We rely on the conveniences of stoves, microwaves, fridges, freezers, dishwashers and other appliances to cook, store and clean our food and food ‘products’. When is the last time we’ve thought about those as a convenience?

Check out this video from Inside Energy to give yourself a little something to think about as you dig deeper into the idea of the cost of convenience!

Conversations About Convenience with Kids!

Recently I decided to take some time during our health lessons in my grade 3/4 class to talk to my students about the idea of convenience and what that might mean to 8, 9 and 10 year olds.

Question: What does convenience mean?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-convenience means that things are fast and easy

-we get things right away

-we don’t have to wait long to get something

-we can get what we need/want and move on

-we can do more than one thing at once

-it helps when we are busy

Question: When do you notice convenience when it comes to the food we eat?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-when we eat at a restaurant instead of eating at home

-when we eat on the way to a sports practice/after school activity

-when we go on trips and can’t make our own food

-when we use plastic bags for food instead of a reusable container

Question: What types of foods do we eat because they are convenient and what could we do instead?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-cheese strings instead of cutting cheese

-yogurt tubes instead of putting yogurt in our own containers

-water bottles instead of filling our own

-buying fruit and veggies trays instead of cutting up fruit an veggies

-when we have snacks after school (sometimes we eat snacks that come in a package instead of cutting fruit or veggies up)

-buying bags of popcorn instead of popping our own

Question: How else is convenience connected to what/how we eat?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-using a straw that comes with the drinks we order (at fast food restaurants)

-getting a whole bunch of napkins in the “to go” bag even if we don’t ask for them

-using the forks and spoons that you throw away after

-getting lots of ketchup packages (more than you need and there is only a little then you throw it out)

-so many plastic bags being used 

-can’t recycle ‘paper’ drink cups or coffee cups because of the wax on the inside

Question: What are some changes we could make in our lives that could make a positive impact?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-buy whole fruits and vegetables and cut them up instead of buying them pre-cut

-have a piece of fruit after school as a snack instead of having a granola bar in a package

-bring reusable forks, spoons and straws with you instead of using single use/disposable ones

-tell your parents to bring their own coffee cups instead of using a disposable cup

-before stopping for food/drinks ask yourself if you need it or just want it

-talk to your family about some of the choices you make and see if you can make better choices

Question: How can you talk to your family about convenience?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-tell them that you are worried about the environment

-tell them you are learning about things we sometimes choose to do because it’s easier and how these choices aren’t always the best ones for our planet

-ask them if we can talk about some ideas we have

-don’t be mean about it and blame parents for making certain decisions

-know that we can’t change everything at once

-share that one change can still make a difference

-offer to help with things like packing lunches and not asking for fast food

Question: What are some of the “costs of convenience”?

Answers (paraphrased and from class discussions):

-there is more waste

-can be unhealthy sometimes (food choices)

-just because it’s easy doesn’t make it the best choice

-just because I think I want something doesn’t mean I need it

-we are always rushing but doing things together like making supper or baking can be really fun

-just because something takes longer to make or get ready, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it. For example: When we put yogurt into a reusable container, pack a spoon from home, eat it at school and have to wash the container it takes more work than just eating a yogurt tube and throwing it away. One is more convenient, but not the best choice when you think about a healthy planet

-something that is already made for you can cost more money than if you made it yourself

-sometimes we can’t help it but can think about the best choice in that situation

My grade 3/4 students have been very insightful as always! They understood what I was asking and also understand some of the ways that convenience “costs” us and ways we can make changes where our choices aren’t always the most convenient for us. Teaching these big ideas now and having these important conversations early is very effective. These students will go home and share what we’ve been talking about and many of their parents will listen to them and start making changes where they are able to. I always say that kids who care turn into adults who care. And we definitely need more people who care in this world!

Looking ahead:

Consider the following questions:

  • What role does convenience factor into your purchase and lifestyle choices?
  • Can you think of one thing you could change in your lifestyle that would have a positive impact on the environment.
  • Am I willing to make a change even though it might be less convenient for me and my family?
  • Why is convenience important to us?
  • What comes to mind when I use the words “Cost of Convenience?”

What Could I Do?

  • Spend more time preparing meals and snacks
  • Commit to reducing (and one day eliminating) single use plastics (cutlery, straws, cups, etc.)
  • Try starting a compost
  • Shop at bulk stores where you can use your own containers
  • Eat what you have before buying more food
  • Reduce eating out when possible. When you do eat out do things like ask for only the amount of supplies that you need (napkins, ketchup, etc.)
  • Consider your actions before acting upon them!

If you think about it…there is convenience in these waste reduction suggestions!

Have you ever thought about bringing your own container for takeout and leftovers? What’s stopping you? Is the notion that “this is weird” a barrier? If so, what can we do to change that?

We need more of this!

An example of the environmental cost of convenience

Concluding Thoughts:

Convenience is something that we as humans seem to be seeking as well as live with without even realizing it. I understand why convenience is important to us, especially when it comes to food. We have a limited amount of time in a day and what can seem like an endless list of “to dos”, so finding ways to spare some extra time makes sense. However, I think it is very important to think beyond ourselves when it comes to the choices we make and begin to consider what convenience is actually costing us.

Social Media Posts to Get Us Thinking:

Here are some Instagram posts I have connected to as I think about society’s infatuation with convenience, how convenience is linked to what and how we eat as well as some ideas to make positive changes…

This is a really important reminder…

Ask yourself… How can we change our relationship with food in a way that has a positive impact? How do these suggestions connect to convenience when it comes to the decisions we often make with food?


What can we do to make this statement true?

Let’s find out!

Changing our mindset is a great place to start making a change

Why do we buy so much?

Kindly refuse!!

Change has to start with each and every one of us!

Do. What. You. Can.

Words to live by!


This project has provided me the opportunity to do some deep thinking about a variety of ideas as well as include my students in the process. It has been my goal to deepen my own thoughts,  initiate a conversation with my students that they could then take home and continue at home, share some resources with others and to bring awareness to and encourage you to think about the idea of what convenience is costing us.

Interesting Articles:

Thank You Kindly…

-A special thanks goes out to my grade 3/4 students at Montrose School for their participation in our discussions and for their great ideas!

-Instagram photos that have been used from the following accounts:










-Click on the links to the articles and video for more information

Meet Amanda Carson…Social Entrepreneur

This is Amanda Carson. She is the owner of Shift Wpg, her integrative therapy and coaching business. Amanda is also a yoga instructor and teaches classes and workshops throughout Winnipeg. I’d like to thank Amanda for her participation in this interview (including allowing me to use her posts from Instagram) as well as for the work she does in our community. You only need to meet Amanda once to know how genuine she is and how much passion she has for helping people. She also has the most calming voice!  I personally have become so relaxed while listening to her that I have fallen asleep or shifted into a deep meditative state!

Please enjoy learning more about Amanda Carson and Shift Wpg.


These are the types of messages that you will see on Amanda’s Instagram account (@shiftwpg). As you scroll through her account you become uplifted and find yourself beginning to think about things in a different way. Amanda offers her own thoughts and shares resources from others to help shift your way of looking at yourself and others. Amanda does this in a way that you know comes from a place of kindness and concern for the wellbeing of all humans.

I first met Amanda in 2016. She was working as a Yoga instructor at a new studio near me and I had made the decision to give Yoga a try. I started off with an introduction to Yoga class that went through some of the basic poses and shared what a Yoga practice can do for us mentally, physically and emotionally. Amanda was one of the workshop leaders. Her and I were partnered for an ice breaker activity and I instantly felt at ease with her. Trying new things can be very challenging for me. On that day I signed up on a whim and I’m so glad I did! Fast forward 3.5 years and here I am submitting an interview of Amanda and have the opportunity to share the amazing work she has been doing. I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversations throughout the years about mindfulness and how I can use it in my classroom (we are hoping to work it out so Amanda can come visit us one day). What I learn from Amanda’s classes gets put to use with my grade 3/4s as we practice mindfulness daily at school.

This photo was taken at one of the introductory workshops I attended with Amanda in 2016!!

Since 2016 Amanda has completed many courses geared toward helping people. Her passion is to help, heal and teach people to practice self love. When we love each ourselves we will also love each other. Amanda’s work fits so well within social entrepreneurship as she has developed a business in which addresses social issues. Positive Mental Health is becoming a well established focus in today’s world. Amanda’s approach to integrative therapy and coaching is very powerful and healing. She doesn’t only focus on one or two areas of stress or anxiety for people but understands that by working collaboratively with people they can find each client’s inner challenges as well as their strengths. One unique things about Amanda is that she acknowledges that we all have stressors, trauma and pain in our lives that we would benefit from seeking help to understand. Her work is about all people’s Mental Health, and not only those with a diagnosed illness. Amanda is open with her own challenges and this openness encourages others to be willing to seek and accept help for their own challenges. A variety of support and treatment options allows Amanda is able to reach a wide audience. She works with people in person at her new office (which I am planning on visiting soon!), virtual sessions are available, group sessions are an option, she is always planning workshops alone and with other local businesses. Amanda can really cater to what your specific needs are. This range of support  options is so effective as she understands that not everyone has the benefits through their jobs that can help pay for these services. To participate in a group workshop is very cost effective and Amanda is always there to listen to your questions and concerns before or after these workshops and help you with your next steps. Her choice to offer a sliding scale for payment is another way that Amanda shows that her desire to help others is her top priority. Yes, Shiftwpg is her business and is how she supports herself financially, but it is also her platform to help those in need and sometimes those in need also require a break in cost of services. Amanda uses Social Media to share resources, announce workshops, educate people about the work she does and inspire people to take care of themselves and each other. In a world where Social Media can be viewed as damaging to our self love, Amanda offers the perspective of how it can also do the opposite. “It is important to be aware of accounts we are following…do they lift us up or do they trigger us in some way?”

Amanda has a beautiful soul. She truly wants to make the world a better place and because of that has created a career where she can support herself financially and fuel her desire to help others. Amanda always speaks highly of other people in our city and finds ways to support them work with them through collaboration. Her intent is not to complete with others who might be doing similar work, but to work together to achieve the ultimate goal of helping people.

Thank you again Amanda for all that you’ve done for the people of Winnipeg and beyond.

If you live in the area and you want to take a class with her let me know! Your body, mind and soul will thank you!

For full interview details please continue reading!

Amanda owns Shift Wpg, which is an integrative therapy and coaching business. She provides therapy and coaching to her clients privately, in groups, and in workshop settings. Amanda’s background is in social work, hypnotherapy, coaching, yoga and mindfulness. She utilizes all of these approaches in the work she does with her clients so that it is holistic in nature. Amanda support those going through various challenges in their life including managing stress, anxiety, depression, grief, loss and chronic pain/illness and teaches people tools and techniques so that they can live in a positive state of wellbeing and health.

Human beings are certainly complex! Each with their own set of unique challenges and also their own unique strengths. The work that Amanda does is very much a collaborative effort with the clients she sees, which means they have to be willing to hold themselves accountable in order to make positive changes in their lives and Amanda needs to believe in their ability to heal, grow and evolve. It can certainly be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding and humbling. We, as humans are resilient creatures and Amanda’s belief is that we all thrive when we utilize our inner resources while navigating what life presents us with.

When Amanda was asked motivated her to take the steps she has taken to realize the social entrepreneurial accomplishments she has attained she answered very honestly:” Definitely my own personal and professional challenges. I have been very fortunate and have received assistance from helpers from various disciplines and have always had a good support network of family and friends in my life. I have witnessed that we are always better together and every one of us can use a bit of guidance and support from time to time. I started working in hospital and health care centres after finishing my degree in social work but quickly knew I wanted to work on a much deeper, personal level with my clients than I was finding I was able to in previous job settings. I created my business based on these personal and professional interests and values.”

Amanda admits that there are many barriers she has had to overcome throughout her entrepreneurial journey.

The first barrier she speaks to was: imposter syndrome. “That feeling of “not being good enough” to be doing what I am doing. Dealing with those thoughts that there is always someone who is doing it better, that I am not skilled enough or experienced enough. This is something that still pops up every now and then but what I like to focus my attention on is all of the positive work I am doing with my clients, witnessing them improve their life circumstances and stand in their strength reminds me I am right where I am meant to be.”

Another challenge for Amanda is charging professional fees for her services. “That was a tough one to get used to. I personally have chosen to offer on a sliding scale to make my services more accessible for those who do not have insurance coverage, I offer donation based community workshops through out the year. I provide referrals for people to access mental health services that are free or income based in our community. This is definitely something that is important to me. Our system needs to do better at prioritizing mental health. I’m not sure what the all the answers are but I do my best in supporting people in the ways that I can while also recognizing my own worth as a practitioner.”

Amanda has some recommendations for fostering more creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in people . One of which is simple and effective: “Allow people the opportunity to stay curious. I tell my clients all the time to “imagine” their various possibilities, goals, desires. Our minds are more powerful than we often give them credit for. Everything was once only an idea. One of my favourite aspects of this is encouraging people to learn from others instead of compare themselves to others. If you see someone doing something you love or also want to do, then that means you too are just as capable of accomplishing it or anything else for yourself.”

When asked if Amanda sees her efforts as contributing to social, economic, cultural, or environmental health and well-being her response was…Absolutely! “I would say all of the above. My work is very holistic, so when I meet with clients we really take into consideration all of these aspects of our wellbeing. I am a big fan of educating people on the different resources available to them in our city, whether that be services that are focused on mental, physical, social or even professional/educational wellness. I value informing clients on resources they can access whether they be free of charge, support our local businesses, or focus on culturally specific traditions and teachings. I work with clients in person but also virtually which allows me to support our community but also those throughout our country.”

Amanda’s concluding thoughts are:

“I love spreading valuable and informative content for the public over social media platforms such as instagram or facebook. People can connect with me there @shiftwpg or Speaking of social media in general, it is important to be aware of accounts we are following, do they lift us up or do they trigger us in some way? Social media has been the number one tool for growing my business. I believe in our ability to use it as a way of connecting with like minded individuals, creating community and sharing/learning with and from others.”

EDUC:6105 Health Promoting Schools: Deep Learning Inquiry Project: Welcome to Room 123!


The basis of my Inquiry project is the Living Schools Classroom Planner. I have used this as an opportunity to reflect and plan for new and improved learning opportunities moving forward.However, before I share that document with you, I would like to introduce you to my home away from home…Room 123 at Montrose School in Winnipeg, MB!

Custom script bythe very talented artist and activist Kal Barteski (@kalbarteski, that greets those who enter our classroom!

Introduction video to my classroom and school!

I’ve also uploaded some of videos taken at school (at the end of last year and this year so far) from events I have helped organize and facilitate. Developing community is really important to me as a teacher in my own classroom and is also a priority (not in the write down on the school plan to submit to the division kind of way but is very important at a school level kind of way) for our school. By creating school wide, vertical team and grade group learning opportunities we strengthen our sense of community!

Round Dance Video on National Indigenous Peoples Day 2019

-This video was taken last June at Indigenous Peoples of Canada Day. The whole school came together in a round dance led by our amazing music teacher and one of my grade 3 students (such an amazing opportunity for her to share her gift of a beautiful voice with the school)

International Yoga Day 2019

-We started our morning off with a whole school Yoga sequence led by our Yoga teacher (he teachers Yoga once a cycle and is our Inquiry/Innovation support teacher for the other 5 days of the school cycle) on International Yoga Day in June. It was a really great way to start off our day!

Take Me Outside Day Yoga 2019

-The Yoga was so much fun in June that we came together as a school again, this time as an ending this year’s “Take Me Outside Day”. The entire school spent a little over two hours outdoors doing a variety of activities to celebrate outdoor learning. The students were able to come and go to each ‘station’ as they pleased and experience the afternoon in a way that made sense to them. No timers at each station or groups they had to travel with…it was their time and they were able to choose how they spent it. Some activities included: carpentry, yard weaving, giant Jenga, design your own obstacle course, learn to juggle, Indigenous games, backyard BBQ games, pots and pans music, student designed scavenger hunt and nature art!

Eruption Video!

-When you are learning about rocks and minerals and one of the moms is a geological engineer, you invite her in and learn from an expert! She was pretty excited to share her passions with the students and set up 8 stations for them to learn from…including everyone’s favourite: the eruption that happens when Mentos meet Diet Coke! It is really important for us to have parents, grandparents, community members in the classrooms to create connections between home, school and the community.

Living Classrooms and Schools

After learning about Living Schools and Living Campuses I wanted to focus on what I do at school in my classroom as well as how that extends into the school environment. When Catherine offered the draft document for the Living Classroom, I was happy to accept it! I wanted to explore and reflect on what I’ve been doing within the classroom setting, then see if and how it meets the criteria of the Living Classroom.

*After using the Living Schools document I also have some thoughts about that process as well (check further down in this post)

Note: My responses to the questions in the planner have been based on what I am currently doing in the classroom as well as what we did last year, as it is early in the year and it made more sense to use examples from both years.

What is a Living Classroom?:

Grade 3/4 Remembrance Day art from 2019 

I shared my Inquiry project idea with my grade 3/4 students and asked them what they thought a Living School might be. Here are some of their responses:

-it is a whole school community that spreads kindness

-it is learning about all subjects and even learning at recess

-it is tidy and organized

-kids are treated nicely, there are no bullies and everyone is respected

-learn in new ways (like using technology, Genius Hour and figuring things out on our own) and not like people did before (only from teacher talking and having to read from textbooks)

-use multiage classrooms to support learners (stay with teacher for two years, older students help younger, etc.)

-has a feeling like a home when you come into the school

-work together using the 4Cs (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity)

-connect to the community and not just thinking about ourselves

-there is a focus on the future and what we need to learn to make things better in the world

-kids have strong skills because you practice skills in lots of different ways

-learning happens both inside and outside

-kids learn about being healthy because it says living and living means alive

-uses a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset

-accepts people and celebrates differences

-kids learn how we can all live in peace and be happy

It turns out that they had a pretty good idea of what a Living School represents…and that’s because it is how they are used to learning and is what helped to shape my own Inquiry.

Student created school treaty developed in 2019. Words and actions we try to put into practice

Using the experience of a field trip to the Petroforms as well as poetry to connect with the school treaty

Living School Classroom Planner:

Below is the link to my Living Classroom Planner. Over the course of a few weeks I was able to go though the planner and reflect on my role as a teacher, my methods of teaching, my connections to the students, staff, school and local communities as well as the world as a whole.

Living Classroom Planner D. Shrumm October 2019


Upon filling out the Living Schools Classroom Planner I think that a lot of what I do really does fit in with the philosophy of a Living Classroom and we have many strong attributes of a Living School. When I first read about Living Schools I was inspired and motivated as a teacher. I wanted to visit these schools and campuses and see how everyone is able to accomplish and facilitate such amazing learning experiences for and with their students. After spending the past few weeks reflecting on my own classroom I can honestly say that I am still very inspired and motivated and would love to visit these places, but also that I personally have a lot to share on the topic as well.

I’ve asked my grade 3/4 students to share something about our class and am so proud of their  responses. They are deep and thoughtful as well as important life skills that are connected to the world around us.

Student art from treaty. Each student created their own art representation that reflected their own interpretation of an area of the treaty 

Here are a few I’d like to share with you…

“Remember that story I wrote for you last year? Well my friends and I have taken it and turned it into a game. It’s so fun because it was such a good idea!” Grade 5 student shared this with me while I was on recess duty!

Student 1:”I can’t explain why I don’t feel shy anymore” Student 2:”It’s because you know it’s safe to take a risk in here!”

“I like that in this class I have made new friends and that people care for each other”

“Our class feels like a family because of the warmth and kindness. I try to bring these feelings into the classroom too so I can share them with others. It makes me happy to see others happy.”

“I like the forest visits because we get to be in nature and learn how to care for nature so we will still have a place to enjoy when we are adults. When we keep going back to the same place we feel connected to it and want to care for it even more.”

“We are lucky because not all schools and classrooms get to learn the way we do. I’m glad this is my classroom and school.”

“We have voice and choice and that’s really good!

Personal Thoughts Living Classroom Planner Document:

After using the Living Classrooms Planner Document I have compiled some notes of my experience.

-I really liked the set up of the document and the first few pages of an overview. This makes it easier for people who are new to the idea of Living Schools and don’t need to search for what it actually entails. For example: the headings and descriptions of Values & Vision, Leadership, Teaching & Learning, Nature & Place-Based Orientation, Health & Well-Being gives you a ton of information at a glance and allows you to get an great overall sense of what Living Schools represent

-the planner was thorough, although maybe slightly repetitive at times

-it was very thought provoking, but I’m not sure if teachers who are less passionate about the idea of Living Schools would want to fill out something so lengthy

-pardon any typos, without spellcheck I am certain there are some poorly typed words!

-there was one section that I was confused by the wording and because of that left it blank

-I couldn’t get the feedback form to expand which is maybe something to look into before opening the document up to teachers, so I will write what I was going to type here:

I am pleased with the quality of questioning used in this document because it really made me think, reflect and plan. Because of this I have been able to think about what I do in my classroom and at my school to enhance the education of our learners. I’m proud of the things I do and am motivated to move forward with new teaching and learning opportunities. I think that the planner would be useful for teachers who are interested in a similar type of inquiry that I have done and also when creating classroom and school plans for the future. The planner was a fairly large time commitment and for the purpose of my inquiry was great, however I am not sure if the majority of teachers who are new to the idea of Living Classrooms/Schools would be willing or able to put so much effort into it. At times, I felt like my answers were repetitive and that the questions were asking similar things. I really feel that by adding so much of the sustainability component, this planner is much more holistic than using a the planner from Health Promoting Schools. The Living Classroom document encompasses health in all aspects, including the connection to sustainability which feels more up to date with current teaching practices and the direction of education. Thanks for creating this document!

Personal Inquiry Final Thoughts: Future Plans & Frustrations

Doing an Inquiry project on my own classroom and school environments has been pretty enlightening. Since we are an Inquiry based school we talk a lot about Inquiry with the students and now it was my turn! I feel like I’ve ironed out some of my own curiosities and wonderings and am allowing myself to feel pretty good about how I have evolved as a teacher and learner over the past few years. I work really hard at using a growth mindset and “practicing what I preach” to my students! I’m trying to be more accepting of compliments from parents and colleagues and realize that I am doing my job in way that I set out to do. Pausing and reflecting has been good for me personally and professionally. It has motivated me to keep doing things that I’ve been doing as well as seeing areas for growth. It also has reminded me that small changes are still changes. Everything cannot and will not change overnight!

Personal Inquiry Process:

I also wanted to reflect on my personal Inquiry process so I can use that to share with the students when we are using Inquiry at school. We are currently working on ways to redevelop our Genius Hour process and going through the process myself will be helpful with that.

-I thought about what I was really interested in and wondering about

-Developed a big question: Does my classroom have attributes of a Living Classroom?

-Daily work with the planner for about a week, answering questions and using the set criteria to compare with my own classroom environment

-Made notes about thoughts and ideas (about the questions and about the planner itself)

-Decided on possible ways to present my findings (gathering photos) and choosing one that I wanted to pursue

-Created an iMovie to help others to get to know my classroom and school a bit better (which has felt like an inquiry within itself, but taking a risk is part of this whole process!)

-Compiled everything to the blog

-Reviewed work and made revisions

-Shared project


-I plan on focussing on sharing more at my own school and with an extended community, realizing that I can help others who are interested in learning ways to incorporate health and sustainability practices into the teaching

-I plan on working with the staff to build community amongst us and enhance our well-being. We could all use some reminders of the great things we are doing. We can be guilty of putting pressure on each other to do too much sometimes instead of being more supportive. We are there for each other for the “big” things, but need to be there for the “small” things too

-I plan on exploring and sharing the idea of Living Schools and its connections with overall health and wellness with a sustainable focus with the staff and see where that takes us

-I plan on exploring authentic ways to connect to the world around us in a meaningful way to the students and facilitate ways to incorporate 21st century skills that help to consider the future


-The way I teach doesn’t necessarily match up to our provincial reporting system and writing report cards can be challenging

-The data expectations from the school division takes time away from inquiry and project based learning

-Sometimes it can be challenging to balance all the things I want to do with the things I have to do, so there is work to be done with that!

Thank You:

-To the staff and students at Montrose School for allowing me to share the photographs and your words for the purpose of this Inquiry project

-To Catherine O’Brien for the use of the Living Schools Classroom Planner


Living Campus framework citation: Murray, S. & O’Brien, C. (2019).

Living Schools website as retrieved from:

O’Brien, C. (2016). Education for sustainable happiness and well-being. New York, NY: Routledge.

Promoting Healthy, Active, Sustainable Schools in Elementary School Settings

Physical Activity & Health in Elementary Schools


Simply put, children are not active enough and spend too much time using screens and being sedentary. Despite many programs in place to encourage physical health along with the known benefits of physical health, we continue to be challenged with getting enough exercise whether it be in a structured or unstructured setting. What does this mean for children in elementary schools?

2018 ParticipACTION Report Card

The results are in…

We have been given an overall physical activity grade of a D+ as a country. Curious as to how this grade was decided? The overall grade is based on varying daily behaviours, individual characteristics, settings and sources of influence and strategies and investments. The following results have been retrieved from the 2018 ParticipACTIOn Report Card.

Working in an elementary school in Winnipeg,MB, I have been witness to students who fall into this average or below (inner city location) and students who would fall above the average (southern part of the city). It is a concern of mine that the overall grade is so low, yet I have taught students who would fail at all indicators.

On a positive note, many of our Canadian children are participating in organized sports, getting enough sleep and have support from the community. Now that we know where we stand within the rubric of the report card, how will we determine the next steps?

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guideline from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA)

Understanding the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines by age category is a helpful tool to use as we begin to figure out what the next steps in promoting physical activity could be.

For my role as a teacher in a Nursery to Grade 6 school I am most interested in the guidelines for children aged 5-17. In 2018, the ParticiPACTION report card gave our children an “F” for this category. Only “15% of children and youth in Canada meet all three recommendations within the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth” (2014-15 CHMS, Statistics Canada). We can do better for our children. We need to educate our children and youth and help them to make decisions that will take them from healthy children to healthy adults.

Physical Activity Linked to Overall Health

Being physically active has more benefits that we might realize. Besides helping to keep our body healthy it also helps us keep a healthy mind. It is super important to keep active to boost our overall health!

Benefits of Physical Activity as from Manitoba Healthy Schools

  • Children who are more physically active show better academic performance.
  • Regular physical education classes in school will keep kids active through their teens and help them control their weight.
  • Children who are more physically active have a better self-esteem and body image.
  • Regular physical activity improves children’s mental health and contributes to growth and development.
  • Regular physical activity reduces the likelihood of obesity. Both obesity and inactivity increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Daily physical activity improves children’s skeletal health. This, in turn, reduces their risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.
  • Regular physical activity in children can become a habit that carries over into adulthood.
  • Regular physical activity leads to better behaviour and a healthy lifestyle.
  • An increase in youth participation in physical activity will cut health care costs by decreasing future risk related diseases.

More Benefits of Physical Activity as from ParticipACTION 

Tools in Manitoba

The Manitoba Healthy Schools initiative provides many resources to help promote health and wellness to all children. There are many different tips and tools to be found if you are looking for ways to boost the level of activity in your students, your children or even for yourself. There is also research to back up these ideas if that is what you are looking for as motivation to get started. I’m unsure whether or not people are aware of these resources as they aren’t something that I had realized were there before actively looking. If we are serious about improving physical health then maybe we need to make sure people know they are being support and that there are already resources to get them started.

The Healthy Schools in Motion Physical Literacy Toolkit has been created to help Manitobans become more physically active. But what is Physical Literacy? Physical and Health Education Canada (as retrieved from the Physical Literacy Toolkit) describes Physical Literacy as “Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person” (Page 7). In order to becomes physically literate, individuals need to have learned fundamental movement skills from an early age.

I work for the Winnipeg School Division. In this division, each student from Kindergarten to Grade 5 is assessed on their fundamental movement skills in the first term of the school year. The outcomes that are assessed include: ball bouncing, catching, dynamic balance, galloping, hopping, jumping, kicking, overhand throwing, rolling, running, skipping, static balance, striking and underhand throwing.

Students are assigned with either an “M” for mature or a “D” for developing as for their performance assessment. Students who are within the developing rating will include instruction for that skill as their next step. Students who receive an overall “D” rating will be reassessed in the Spring to ensure the proper growth has been made. Schools have a trained physical education teacher who performs the assessment and teaches the fundamental movement skills. In my opinion, our physical education teachers are accurately able to assess each student and plan accordingly.

The Healthy Schools in Motion Recess Toolkit has been created to share important information about recess. This document serves as a good reminder of “What Recess Is Not”. Recess is not an opportunity to keep children inside to catch up on work. Recess is also meant to enhance physical education and is not considered to be a replacement for physical activity. There are educators that need to read this type of information because they still use recess as a reward system for students. I understand how challenging it can be when students are behind in their work or seem unmotivated, but taking away their recess is not the solution and may even exacerbate issues if the student is not getting enough physical activity.

PLAY Tools or Physical Literacy Assessment for Youth, is designed to improve physical literacy and help close the gaps that individual children (aged 7+) may have. There are several resources  provided to help guide physical literacy such as PLAYbasic, PLAYcoach, PLAYfun, PLAYparent and PLAYself.

Winnipeg in Motion is all about providing tools for all ages in order to achieve physical activity goals. Here they have a section called @school which provides great tips for teachers to help encourage their students to be active while at school and also on the way to school.

Students at Montrose School 

The grade is in…

We know that in 2018 we were given a D+ when it comes to physical activity levels, but what does that mean for Montrose School? I’m in my fourth year of teaching at Montrose and as I look at the “rubric” for the participACTION “test” I notice that the students in my school would not be given an overall grade of a D+. For example, in my current class I have 25 students. 2 of the 25 do NOT participate in an organized sport outside of school. One of those students is a newcomer to Canada and with a little time and some information to the parent I think this is something she and her siblings will have the opportunity to do. The other student has a challenging family situation and his lifestyle has been directly impacted by that and furthermore his physical health has had a negative impact. The students who do participate in organized sports do things like dance, soccer, basketball, martial arts, swimming, hockey, etc. and most belong to multiple “teams” throughout the year. 23/25 would be a higher grade than a B.

The students have a physical education class taught by a physical education teacher for 90 minutes per school cycle (we are on a 6 day school cycle here), they get 30 minutes of Yoga from a trained Yoga teacher and participate in 60 minutes of teacher led gym, which gives them 180 minutes of physical education and movement time per school cycle. On top of that, each class has 60 minutes of outdoor education time (which we call Friluftsliv) and 90 minutes of Performing Arts (Music, Dance and Drama). We have recess before school (whenever students arrive until 8:55), two 15 minute recess breaks (morning and afternoon) and 35-40 minutes at lunch. We have a lot of movement happening throughout the school day and cycle and a lot of emphasis on being physically active, which would likely score higher than a B-.

One area of “weakness” for Montrose students would be the Active Transportation piece. Over the years we have noticed that many students are being driven to school for various reasons. Some students are brought to school very early and dropped off at daycare as their parents drive to work, some live quite far away and are unable to walk or ride their bike and some prefer to get that ride and not have to walk or ride their bike. The Winnipeg weather can also be a challenge for people. Last year we started an initiative called “Walk-tober” where students were encouraged to walk or bike to school. A colleague and I participated for the month and the walking group continued to walk to school for the rest of the year! Encouraging families to participate in active transportation and either walk with their children, set up a walking group or simply allow them to go on their own is still something we are challenged with. We live/work in a safe community, yet many parents are not comfortable with the walk to school.

Connection with Sustainability

The overall statistics are scary. However, if we ignore these results they are sure to be worse by the next time the report card comes out. The emergence of screens is a big part of the problem. We are becoming dependent on our devices and the time once spent outdoors playing is being replaced by a sedentary lifestyle in front of a screen. This is where a focus on sustainability could be of value. If we get outside and leave our devices indoors, we become more active and also appreciate our surroundings. Seems like a winning combination to me! When I do my “teacher led gym” I take my students outside (unless the weather is too severe). I can structure an activity (a walk or a game), but can also give the students choice and allow them to figure out their own activity or even have them facilitate an activity with the group. I participate with my students while also supervising the group. It is my goal to show them how being active outside has many positive impacts on our health and that in order to continue to have this outdoor space we need to ensure we are taking care of it. We pick up garbage when we see it, we respect the plants and animals that share the space with us and we USE the green space we have instead of admiring it from the inside!

Playing outside has many benefits. The Positon Statement on Active Outdoor Play reminds us that playing in nature is essential for development and that even the risks children encounter are beneficial to them. Being sedentary indoors poses problems such as overeating, lack of fundamental skills, being unmotivated, exposure to violence through what we consume on devices, etc.

In Conclusion:

In order for schools to achieve the desired outcome for health and wellness of their students, there needs to be continued emphasis put on the education and implementation of physical activity. We cannot assume that families are taking the responsibility of ensuring their children are active. When we work together with families to educate the children about healthy life choices, share our own practice of being active and find ways to put this into practice at school and at home we will foster positive lifelong choices.


“2018 ParticipACTION Report Card: The Brain + Body Equation” (YouTube video). June 19, 2018. As retrieved from:

Fundamental Movement Skills Assessment. The Winnipeg School Division as retrieved from:

Healthy Schools in Motion: Physical Literacy Toolkit. As retrieved from

Healthy Schools in Motion: Recess Toolkit. As retrieved from:

Manitoba Healthy Schools. Government of Manitoba as retrieved from:

ParticipACTION Report Card as retrieved from:

Physical and Health Education Canada as retrieved from:

Physical Literacy: PLAY Tools. As retrieved from:

Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play. As retrieved from:

Winnipeg in Motion as retrieved from:

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority as retrieved from:

Teaching For Creativity: Assignment 5


It made more sense to post everything on my professional portfolio page since the attachments were too large for our forum.



Morning Routines:

Danielle’s Morning Routine: I Feel Terrific vs I Feel Terrible Scenarios

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Reflection Part 1:
I thought the process of asking someone else about their morning routine would be awkward. I struggled with who I should ask to be my ‘subject’ because I know how different my morning routine is compared to everyone else I know. I have a partner and a dog. Everyone else I know has a partner, kid(s) and often a pet too. What I am able to do before I leave for work looks quite different in comparison to what others can do (due to personal responsibilities) and I was worried about coming off as judgemental. I then realized that when I use empathy, the judgement piece is no longer a factor. I am not judging my friend, but because the mornings are such a busy time for her she is sensitive to how things might look to an outsider. We cleared that up right away! I told her that I was only here to listen and see if there was something I could do to help, even something that seems silly or “out there”. Empathy for the ‘win’! Removing the judgement and really listening helped to eliminate any awkwardness. If we want to do all the things that make us “feel terrific” then we have to make that a priority. Having a terrific morning often translates to a better day ahead, so we should be trying to do what we can in order to “feel terrific” as often as possible! Helen needs to work on communication and coming up with a plan as a family and I need to be motivated to just get up and get going because that’s when I feel best. I cannot control when the dog gets up and is extra hungry, but I can control how I react to that. Helen cannot control everything and everyone in her household, but she can let others know how the rushed mornings make her feel and develop empathy for each other as a family.

It also helped that both my friend and I have actually used this exact template while doing “Picture Book Engineering” with our grade 3/4 students. We both recognize that the process is beneficial as it gets you thinking about problems, solutions and even problems with solutions, and actually have some fun along the way!

Design Thinking Process: Genius Hour Redesign

Redesign Process for Genius Hour

*Please see links below for graphics!

Grade 3/4 Genius Hour Redesign

Revised Genius Hour Graphic Organizer (Assignment 5) 

Reflection Part 2:

As I already mentioned I have used this process before, but what I didn’t mention was it has been the only reason I’ve used it. When I l first learned about this specific version of the design process and saw the physical document at a workshop it was for picture book engineering, so naturally that’s what I thought it was for! Nobody really talked about how it could be used for any type of design thinking. 

An area that we’ve “struggled” with at school over the past few years is Genius Hour. Year one: we wanted to do it, but didn’t know where to start…so we didn’t. Year two: we weren’t going to use the same excuse as the previous year so we took the plunge and learned as we went. Year three: We found resources to help track student progress to make them be more accountable. Year four: Well, that’s where this process may be able to help. We are currently thinking about ways to change Genius Hour time in our 3/4 classes in order to enhance the projects/process/learning opportunities/accountability/ for our students. We want to make things better, but need to decide what that even means. We have some planning time as a team coming up at school, this will be a good time to look the Design Thinking Process together. For now I’ve created something that we can start with. The great thing about Genius Hour is that we recognize the benefits of offering choice and voice for our students and are able to keep an open mind about making changes. This resource has helped spark a conversation with my team that we’ve been meaning to get to, but haven’t found the time. For me, going through the process has been helpful to initiate things and will play a role in the future of our Genius Hour projects moving forward.





Source of Vigour…I Am Love Project

“The I AM LOVE PROJECT was created from a vision where everyone is worthy of love, should be loved, and feel loved regardless of age, colour, gender, or race.

Our mission is to continuously encourage self-love; a practice which allows us to enjoy a positive relationship with ourselves and others. A mindset that is cultivated through the support of the community and backed up with heart.

By encouraging volunteerism, raising funds and awareness for smaller Canadian non-profit organizations, we together can sustain the chain of love.”

This is a quote from the I AM LOVE project mission statement. I’d also like to mention that it was posted on July 1, 2018! Despite being a new initiative in the Winnipeg area, the I AM LOVE project has already impacted many, many lives. Here is the story of the impact Amy Tung and the I AM LOVE project in Winnipeg, MB!



I met Amy Tung at one of the Pop Up Yoga events that the I AM LOVE project puts on. It was actually only the second Yoga fundraising event that Amy had organized through the I AM LOVE project! Jodi, one of my good friends (more on her later!!), posted about a Yoga event she had gone to and right away I sent her a text asking what the fundraiser was for and if it would be something she’d be interested in doing again. She told me a bit about the premise of the I AM LOVE project and said she’d love to go with me in August, so we signed up!

Reasons I signed up:

  1. The event was the day before my birthday and I was inspired by the idea of giving back to my community (a great way to start my “new year”)!
  2. I love to do Yoga, so that was also a good fit!
  3. There were great local businesses that were sponsoring the event (more on one of my favourite Winnipeg products later)!
  4. It was a nice way to spend the morning with a friend

Reasons I wanted to know more about the I AM LOVE project after being at the Yoga fundraiser:

  1. Amy Tung, the amazing founder of the project, came up to my friend and I after Yoga and thanked us for coming. Amy actually remembered Jodi (my friend) from the previous Pop Up Yoga event. She was SO nice. Jodi and I joked afterward that we thought we were nice and then we met Amy and were so pleasantly shocked that people like her existed..we decided that we needed to step up our “niceness game”!
  2. The charity for August was for the Mood Disorder Association of Manitoba-a smaller charity that really benefited from the money that was being fundraised as well as the advertised awareness for the organization. It was such a nice change to support a smaller organization, one that people may not know about but one day may need the assistance of or know someone who might benefit from its support.
  3. Seeing the support of many local businesses was special and inspiring. There was a beautiful vibe at the event. I wanted to be part of the next cause, even if it was only through my $20 donation.

Reasons I am sharing the I AM LOVE project as my source of vigour:

  1. Amy Tung and her amazing will to make the world a better place.
  2. The reminder that people are out there helping other people. Despite all the terrible things we hear… we need to remember that there are awesome human beings that are directly impacting people’s lives and the social sustainability of our community.
  3. To show the ripple effect of an act of kindness…
  4. It might inspire someone else!

How the I AM LOVE project has impacted myself and the people in my life:

-First Jodi went to a Pop Up Yoga fundraiser, then Jodi and I went, then Jodi, Penny and I went and now I have people asking me to join us the next time we go!

-My colleagues are now following Amy on Social Media and asking me about the I AM LOVE project and the impacts Amy is making on the community

-Jodi is involved with an upcoming event where she is giving haircuts to people in need. She also collects warm clothing and feminine hygiene products for one of the organizations that Amy supports

-and this is only the beginning!

I am truly honoured to introduce Amy Tung and the I AM LOVE project to you via an interview with Amy….


Photo courtesy of Amy’s Instagram account: i_am_love_project (permission granted)

Amy! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?!

I grew up in Winnipeg with one older brother, and most of my childhood, as well into my early adulthood, was devoted to helping the family business. Then I graduated University and decided to move to Hong Kong and I managed a makeup and nail salon for a while. When I moved back to Winnipeg, my brother and I started a business together and later on I started working for H&M.

While I was working for H&M I realized I was more suited to HR so I took courses and started applying whenever I saw an opening to non-profit organizations, admin positions, anything related to HR. I didn’t get any phone calls but that just made me realize even more how much I wanted to help people.

I get motivated in doing the work I do now, by the people around me and other like-minded people who I’ve gotten to know.

I know I was supposed to talk about me but I ended up talking about how I got to this position, but I think the work you do kind of defines what kind of person you are; I’m passionate, caring, and I like the motivation I get from being under a certain amount of pressure. I work hard to help others and I want to share that occupation with other people. I want to continue to share love, to continue this chain of love. I want everyone to be able to say I Am Loved.

 Where did the idea for the I Am Love Project come from?

I think in a lot of ways, it came from how I was living my life and how I wanted to be, and how much I wanted to do for the people around me and the community I was living in. No matter where you go, you see people who have not been given love, or think they don’t deserve love, or have trouble understanding what love is. I wanted to show others what love can do and that they are all deserving of love, so I began the I Am Love Project.

How long did it take for the I Am Love Project to get up and running?

That depends on which part you mean. The I Am Love Project started out on my instagram account with motivation and meditation posts, so in that sense, I would say it took half a year, but if we’re talking how long it took for it to become what it’s known for now, making bracelets and pop-up yoga events, I would say 3-4 months.

What kind of setbacks have you encountered along the way?
Handling rejection and having people not show any interest in what I was doing was dejecting, and in that aspect I was experiencing emotional setbacks. I know that a “no” doesn’t hinder my performance, and it’s really just an opportunity for bigger and better things.

I found that finding people passionate and devoted to their cause isn’t hard (we’re all passionate about something) but a setback of sorts regarding collaborations and sponsors, was a lack of guidelines, who was going to do what, and the level of initiative that needed to be reached. 

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?

I learned I had to dream and to follow my dreams. Set goals around my dreams in order for them to come true. I know what it means to follow your dreams and do something your passionate about. It was always in my mind, but I needed to believe myself and make it happen. Everything is possible.

What are some of your best moments of the project thus far?

I have a few. One is at the end of every month, where the money denomination isn’t a huge amount but the impact is huge. Little by little, we are able to raise money and know exactly where that money will be going. Another best moment is living everyday to the fullest, I look forward to all the great people I get to meet. They have been super supportive every step of the way. Their eagerness to help, inspires and fills my cup everyday.

How has your vision for the I Am Love Project evolved since the beginning?

I don’t think the fundamentals of my vision have changed, I still want to spread love, to make others aware that they are worthy of love, no matter what nationality, no matter the age, gender, sexual preference. I want to bring awareness on community issues, mental health issues, youth involvement, and be a source of information for the people impacted by these issues.

I think what has changed is how far I want this to reach people. I wanted to support local charities in Winnipeg, and bring awareness to the general public, inform people who may not have been aware that these charities existed. It’s changed from wanting to keep it local to wanting other cities to get involved with their local charities, and keeping that chain of love, that flow of energy and community alive.

What are you hopes for the I am love project?

Oh my, there’s a lot! In a broader scale, build a stronger community. There are a few things I want to implement. First, make Yoga accessible (incorporate mindfulness in all settings). Second, bringing awareness to smaller charities. Every household should have a book with all the charities and the programs they offer (the charity yellow pages). Third, establish a law where grocery stores need to donate their food to homeless shelters, we can no longer waste food. This will support our charities and help them sustain. No longer will we need to exhaust our man power to secure food sponsorship. Lastly, spread love across borders, across cultures as it should be. Make volunteering and donating fun (statistically there has been a decline).

I know that the Future Under 40 has recently come out. Can you talk about what that means to you?

I think people thought that I wasn’t excited about being nominated, but I was actually just in shock that I would be nominated at all and honoured, and humbled, and overwhelmed. This is truly an honour. When I found out, I cried and I was speechless, I couldn’t find the words to describe how I was feeling for a few days. I was so excited and elated but none of the words I had were enough to tell people how I felt. That’s when I realized that I’d never felt this way before, and now I know what the emotion “honoured” feels like. It feels amazing. It’s amazing that the I Am Love Project is being acknowledged in such a public manner, and it’s amazing because the project will reach even more people.  I’m excited for what this will bring in the future.

Future 40 Finalist Amy Tung-CBC

Quote below is from the second round of CBC’s Manitoba Future 40 list for 2018:

Amy Tung is an inspiring young woman spreading love throughout Winnipeg.

Through her volunteer work at West Broadway Youth Outreach and Big Brothers Big Sisters Winnipeg, she found many non-profit organizations lack funding, awareness and engagement. In early 2018, she took matters into her own hands and started a business that will sustain itself and support Canadian charities — the I Am Love Project.

Every month, volunteers come together to create crystal intention bracelets in support of a charity that is making a big impact in the community. They select a new charity on a monthly basis. The I Am Love Project hosts pop-up yoga classes featuring different local teachers and venues and at the end of the month they deliver all proceeds to their chosen charity.

Within the last four months, we’ve raised over $10,000 for the Women’s Health Clinic, Turning Pages of Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, Make Music Matter and Westman Dreams for Kids Foundation.

“We create the chain of love with no beginning and ending. Love and support is continuous.”

Can you talk about the Mama Bear Clan and your involvement?

The Mama Bear Clan is an amazing group of women who patrol Main Street to make it a safe environment for everyone who occupies it. They are a volunteer based organization and it’s mind-blowing to see how dedicated these women are and how strong they are. They inspired me, and I wanted to do my part for them by collecting donations and getting them the media coverage they deserve.

One is when I’ve made that impact, brought awareness to a charity and now an extra 50 people are aware of this new charity and their cause.

Another one is when relationships have been cultivated and you can see the support grow.  Having people reach out and want to participate, seeing people be as passionate as me and want to help out any way they can.

These are the best, most heart-warming moments.

CTV video/article on the Mama Bear Clan

CBC article on the Mama Bear Clan

Facebook page for Mama Bear Clan

Did you know Cheryl from Cranked Energy before her involvement in the I Am Love Project?

I did not know Cheryl. I reached out and she said YES! After getting to know me and all the different things I was involved in, she’s been saying yes to everything. She loves community and she’s been giving back ever since she was a child. 


Photo courtesy of Cheryl’s Instagram account: crankedenergy (permission granted)

An Interview with Cheryl Zealand: Owner of Cranked Energy Bars

  1. How did I hear about I AM LOVE:  Through the powers of Instagram – Amy reached out to Cranked via message and simply told me the basics of what she does and whether I would like to meet. I love taking meetings with local entrepreneurs so we met at the Cranked Shop and it was an instant connection made through our love for community and giving back.
  2. Why did Cranked get involved: As a business owner passionate about community it can be very hard running a business AND giving back. Energy focused on one often limits energy to put towards another. What I loved about Amy is that SHE is the connector and facilitator of all these amazing projects. Cranked can support her initiatives when and how we choose to. She gives us the ability to join in to existing projects she is working on, or sit down and create an initiate of our own. The key is the the IDEA can come from us, but the real WORK is done by Amy. The other part is that her initiatives support SMALL charities. The underdogs, the ones where $500 makes a HUGE impact. A small business cannot make an impact with big charities. Cranked has often supported Gala’s with donations or bought tickets but it often is not acknowledged or we don’t feel the direct impact because the larger companies with more money are able to get the good promo and acknowledgement due to the $$$$$ support.  With I  AM LOVE, we can donate a prize or a product, or we can buy 4 tickets to a yoga event and we know that our efforts make a difference.
  3. Meeting Amy has allowed me to finally give back in the way I always intended to. Since I was small, I have always given back as best I could. Whether it was money from my allowance to help a friend in need, or time spent after long hours at the office volunteering at Bingos to raise money for charity groups. Kids, career and then starting my own business slowed down my ability to give back. Amy came along and said, no matter what you can or are able to do, we will make it happen.
  4. My dreams for giving back have grown even in the last 6 months. It started with donating food to a yoga event. It then grew to weekly donations to Mama Bear Clan Patrol to hand out. It then grew to me taking a day off running Cranked Energy to spend running around the city doing random acts of kindness. We then did a sock drive, bring in new socks and get a free bar. It is now growing into 100 tote bags being shipped to a northern reserve full of products from local businesses, and then an evening handing out 500 coffees, 500 lunches and 500 toques PLUS haircuts for anyone on the streets needing one – Dec 21st. Amy brings an idea to us at Cranked and we say how can we help, what connections can we help you with, who in our community do we know who would love to get involved. Its connecting people through giving back that makes relationships strong and healthy. The focus is less “what can you do for me “ and more what can WE do together for our community.  Giving back is an actual feeling, and its a feeling everyone should experience. The problem is not everyone knows how to give back, are scared to, or feel like giving back means money out of their pockets. Amy and I create fun, innovative ways for People to get involved at minimal cost.
  5. Can you talk about your product and the role of sustainability: Cranked Energy was created to fill a hole in the market in terms of a fresh grab and go food product, high in nutrients and LOW in preservatives and chemicals. The mission was always to make lives easier for people to eat healthier. When a Cranked bar is purchased, I hope our clients know that their support now funds our community initiatives. As Cranked Energy grows, we are able to give back even more. The staff at Cranked and our sponsored athletes are expected to also give back . We often surprise junior teams or special need athletes with our athletes. Our team is full of people who already do A LOT for community, and when they join Cranked we are able to pull from their efforts while creating our own.  In the beginning our focus was creating a business that could provide for myself and my family in a basic way.  Today 4 years later, we are sustaining our family and the extra is able to be used for our community- to sustain their needs, support community projects, bring awareness to small charities and how your $ makes SUCH an impact. To show our youth empathy, and how they can. Give back (we do a sandwich drive every few months where the youth from sports teams come make sandwiches for mama bear clan at our Cranked Kitchen). This small act of a team of 14 year olds, showing up for a few hours, making sandwiches using products donated by our community, and then knowing they will be enjoyed by people in need is a small step forward to raising caring youth.  Our cranked kitchen I see as not just a kitchen to make our bars to sell. We have the space, we have the people,. We then have the ability to DO MORE. Its a mindset, and a movement I hope we can inspire many others to consider.

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Cheryl:

-Cheryl is also an amazing person! She also makes amazing energy bars! I heard about her bars, tried them once and was hooked! I have NOT eaten a “non Cranked Energy Bar” since May! The bars taste great-like really great! They are fresh. They are produced in the city I live in! There is no transportation cost for shipping the bars…because I stop by when I am in the area! I share the bars with anyone who is looking for a product in the “energy bar market”!

-After my first visit to her shop, Cheryl remembered who I was! She was SO nice! We chatted a bit, then a bit more the next time I came in and I soon learned that she was very active in supporting the community. That’s part of what inspired me become extra loyal to her product line!

-Who was on the list of supporters for that first I AM LOVE Pop Up Yoga event I went to?!? Yes…Cheryl! Of course she was there, not only to give the bars out as a snack after the class, but also to participate! I learned that she had been to the first event and had plans on continuing her support to the project.

-At the most recent Pop Up Yoga I was at for the I AM LOVE project I was chatting with Cheryl and she mentioned her involvement with the Mama Bear Clan and invited my fiends and I to join them walk the streets sometime (which is on the list of things I plan on doing one day-hopefully soon). Cheryl also mentioned some of the people they met on their walks not wanting the food that was being handed out, but wanting a haircut instead, so they could look more “presentable” when trying to find a job. Cheryl said ” I need to find someone willing to donate haircuts”. Well wouldn’t know it…my friend Jodi has her own hair salon and right away said “I’ll do it!”. Just like that the ripple of kindness was spreading!

-Cheryl and Amy recently spent the day doing random acts of kindness. These two ladies are unbelievable! They do these acts of kindness because they care. They want to show others that they are loved. They make an impact on our society whether it is to one person, a family, a small group or within the larger community. They are making our world a better place and inspiring others to follow suit. They want people to be aware of what they can do to help out. I really feel like many people want to give, but don’t know how/where/what to do. Cheryl is so right when she says that Amy puts opportunities together for people and is making a huge difference because of her efforts.

-I can’t wait to see what these two will do next!


On the left (me-Danielle) and on the right (Jodi) at the I AM LOVE Pop Up Yoga Event in August, 2018

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Jodi:

Jodi is the friend that I talk about sustainability issues with! She appreciates that I try to be loyal to local shopping and she is trying to put in the effort  to do the same. She is also very kind and generous. Jodi drives around with a case of water in case she meets a homeless person, or person in need that could really use a bottle of water. She is also the one who introduced me to the I AM LOVE project. Thanks to Jodi I have a really meaningful organization for this source of vigour project! On Friday, December 21, Jodi will be teaming up with other stylists to donate their time and give haircuts to those in need. Jodi is also part of the local business group who donates to the attendance prizes at the I AM LOVE project Yoga fundraisers.

December 21 is also the day that the proceeds from the Love For the Holidays Pop Up Yoga event that I attended will be turned into items of need for those who need them. 500 toques, meals, coffees and feminine hygiene productions will be distributed in Winnipeg. Isn’t that amazing?! This is what the I AM LOVE project is all about!

This is what Jodi had to say about Amy and the I AM LOVE project:

A friend bought me a ticket to the first I Am Love Pop Up  Yoga for my birthday as something different to do together. We got to the venue and were welcomed by strangers that did not at all feel like strangers, they were so welcoming and friendly! After the class I looked further into what the project was all about and it was just such a different approach to fundraising and promoting awareness and bringing people together that I couldn’t help myself and wanted to get involved. I have continued to attend as many of the Pop Up Yoga events as I can and try to help out with their events in whatever way is possible for me. It just seemed the natural progression, to support someone that is helping others.


Photo courtesy of Amanda’s Instagram account: shiftwpg (permission granted)

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Amanda:

-Amanda is one of the Yoga instructors for the I AM LOVE project Pop Up Yoga fundraisers! She lead 200 people through the Love For the Holidays class (where the fund have turned into donations that are being distracted on  December 21)! Amanda is also my ‘regular’ Yoga instructor! Jodi and I attend her weekly Restorative and Meditation class and anytime she’s teaching at the studio near my home I sign up for her class! Amanda is a calm presence and is always looking to teach people about self love and self care.

This is what Amanda had to say about Amy and the I AM LOVE project:

Well when I first heard about Amy and what she was doing I was so interested and loved the concept of giving back in the way that she is. Particularly through her pop up yoga events and crystal bracelets. I purchased my first one at prairie love and spoke with her about getting involved in any way I could to help give back. We met for coffee and talked all things yoga, life, community, passion projects. She asked me to teach at the Love for the Holidays event … her largest fundraiser to date. She and her team of volunteers managed to sell 200 tickets to support the event.

I loved seeing how organized and driven she was/is and that she truly believes in the value of the work she’s doing. I’ve loved using yoga as a way to give back to the community but have not been able to do so on the same scale that she has … she knows a lot about fundraising the ins and outs and I felt it was a valuable learning experience for me too.

Back to Amy!

What are some of the thing you have worked through/are working through when it comes to running the  I AM LOVE project? *List is from Mulligan:An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives (p. 184-5):  On Being a Change Agent

These are the areas that I can say that I’ve worked through and now strive in:

  • Focus on an issue or a set of challenges that you really care about.
  • Be bold and also realistic about your chances of success, do your research and make sure you know the issues and concerns very well.
  • Try to find people you enjoy working with, pay attention to these relationships as well as ‘the cause’.
  • Work on your oral and communication skills.
  • Be creative in the way you do things; a little humour can go a long way.
  • Always remember that good teams will achieve more than talented individuals.
  • Do not get demoralized when things don’t work out; learn the lessons of failure.

And this is one that I’m probably going to have keep working on:

  • Keep a balance in your personal and work life, avoid burnout; you have your whole life of activism ahead of you.

Because a lot of the stuff that I’ve been doing, I’ve had to organize and plan out a majority of the events on my own, I haven’t really had the time to take steps back and relax, but hopefully the new year will bring new opportunities of rest for me.

Final Thoughts:

Amy’s efforts within the I AM LOVE project are what social sustainability is all about. She is building community for people who maybe didn’t even know they could be part of something larger. She is telling people who may have forgotten…that they are loved. She is reminding people who are able to give about the impacts that giving to others has on our community. She is connecting businesses and everyday ‘ordinary’ people to causes that matter and that need attention. She is educating the people of Winnipeg (as well as Brandon and Calgary-where two of the Pop Up Yoga events have taken her so far) about resources that are available, who uses them and how we can make a difference to sustain such programs. Amy is sharing her message and the messages of those in need using her social media platform and presence. She is facilitating projects for people who want to think beyond themselves and help out those in need: whether that person is a child, a teenager, an adult, a senior, a man, a woman, a newcomer to Canada, someone who has lived here all their life, someone who needs help for a little while, someone who needs help for a longer term. She doesn’t look at the colour of skin, religion or sexual preference. She cares about humans. Amy’s message is that “everyone is worthy of love, should be loved, and feel loved.’ We should all take a moment to remind ourselves of that and then spread that message like it’s confetti!

What I enjoy most about my experience with Amy is the feeling of connectedness. I’ve met her in person only twice and yet she immediately responded that she would do an interview with me. Maybe after learning more about the project someone else will be inspired to buy a bracelet her volunteers make, follow her on Instagram and see something that speaks to them, purchase a ticket for a Pop Up Yoga event, contact her about how they can be involved, contact her about a charity that needs support and recognition, volunteer at an event, volunteer to lead the Yoga, donate to the prizes or food at the events, join the Mama Bear Clan walk…the list could go on and on. Amy is the one who is dropping the stone in the water and we are all seeing the ripple effects she has been able to make. Thank you to Amy, Cheryl, Jodi, Amanda and the countless others that I do not know who work to make our world a better place!

I AM LOVE project on Instagram

Cranked Energy on Instagram


Mulligan, M. (2018) An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Reflective Journal: Consumerism and Materialism-Part 2


After tracking my spending for two weeks I was ready to track for another week, this time with more awareness and intention! This experience holds a lot of value and I encourage people to give it a try. With the holidays right around the corner I think I will continue this practice and really track what I spend over the month of December (on food, gifts, donations, etc.). In our house we always try to limit what we spend, but have never actually tracked all aspects of the holiday season. By extending this journalling task I feel like will really consider what I buy, who I buy for and needs vs wants vs luxury. By writing down what I have learned and what I plant to do I feel more accountable to move forward with my next steps!

October 29-November 4 “Spending Journal”:

Monday, October 29– No Starbucks today! I made my own coffee!! I used my Keurig machine, BUT not a K-cup. I used coffee from home and brewed it in a reusable “pod”. There can be SO much waste involved with using these single cup machines. I’ve been using my reusable pod for months and it works like a charm! I used coffee from Starbucks to make my own coffee!

Safeway- Weekly grocery run (again…no single use plastic bags used). I also purchased Halloween treats. Halloween treats is something I really struggled with this year. I think about the waste produced during the holidays each year, but this year it was really on my mind. I felt so torn. I wanted to have a zero waste option for treats, but wasn’t sure what that could be. I decided to buy peanut free ‘treats’ such as cookies and fruit snacks. I know that there is still waste from the plastic/foil packaging, but I thought that it was less packaging than mini chocolate bars or small candy. I brought the boxes to school for our Halloween “maker space day”. What is a better option for Halloween-one that still includes participating by giving a ‘treat’? I’d love to hear people’s suggestions. I miss the days of giving money for Unicef! Luckily we only got 13 kids, so we didn’t have to buy a lot of snacks.

While I was shopping I tried to buy fewer groceries and use what we already had in the cupboard. Being an organized shopper can help reduce purchasing doubles or triples of the same products. If you plan for the week then you can also purchase with intent instead of buying on a whim because you are hungry! I really noticed how as a society we focus more on convenience more than anything else. We pay extra to have an employee cut up fruit, vegetables, cheese, etc. so we don’t have to do it ourselves. I can understand this, but now food that didn’t require plastic packaging has been put into a plastic storing container. I honestly don’t even know if these can be recycled.

I did remember to bring my mesh bags for fruit/vegetables. That is one things I forget to do a lot of the time. How many of those clear, plastic bags get tossed as soon as the groceries get unpacked? I at least use mine for dog “waste” bags-but I shouldn’t be using them at all.

My mesh bags are from Norwex-but look just like this one!

What I need to do is buy more things in bulk. Many bulk food stores are encouraging you to bring in your own containers such as Bulk Barn’s Reusable Container Program. This is going to be my next step!

So Monday’s grocery shopping wasn’t just a regular run in, grab a few things and go home process like it usually is! I need to be better at shopping with intent and making sure that I get what I want and need so no food gets thrown out. I reluctantly admit that we throw food out. I am embarrassed by that. Better organization with shopping/cooking will make positive changes for the earth, my wallet and my tummy!

Tuesday, October 30– Acupuncture appointment. *Pre-purchased visit

Wednesday, October 31– For our Halloween “party” today I allowed treats that were “as healthy and as waste free as possible”. None of the students brought in candy bags or juice boxes. We had a few homemade treats and the kids drank from their reusable water bottles. I am pleased with the student and parent support with this endeavour.

Homemade “Mummy” Pizzas!

October 31 was also the final day for our “WALK-tober: Walking School Bus”. Our goal was to encourage more students to walk to school instead of being dropped off when they live within walking distance. The best way to encourage the students was to join them! To celebrate one month of walking to school (we had about 15 regular walkers) we offered a snack of homemade muffins, oranges and bananas. Baking saved on packaging and homemade always taste better! The downfall…another reminder that we haven’t started a compost at school. One thing at a time I guess, but a school compost needs to become a priority at some point.

Thursday, November 1– Today was “Outdoor Classroom Day” at school. I purchased Starbucks for the two other teachers spending the whole day outside with the students. I brought ALL of us a reusable cup! At first I thought that this might be considered as weird or strange, but the staff knows me. They see me with my reusable cups all the time, so they accepted their hot drinks without complaint. AND if there was judgement, they kept it to themselves!!

During the Outdoor Classroom Day, one of the activities was a community walk. With the first group (grade 5/6) we walked down a street that was under construction. We noticed an ENORMOUS amount of garbage in that area. When we took the second group (grade 3/4) we brought bags to pick the garbage up. There were hundreds of pieces of garbage littered all over the street, sidewalk and area that had been dug up. The students were outraged at what we saw. Our neighbourhood is usually pretty clean and this area was looking like an actual dump. I Tweeted out a photograph and Take Pride Winnipeg (@TakePrideWpg) commented on our clean up! A few people came out of their home to thank us. We actually had to get two more garbage bags from one of the residents because we had filled ours up.

One of the big things that the students noticed/commented on (as we were treating this as a spontaneous mini inquiry project) was that there weren’t any garbage (or recycling) containers at this construction site. People would need to care enough to bring their trash home and dispose of it properly. Clearly, this was NOT happening. Another HUGE disappointment to the students was that there were so many coffee cups amongst the litter. “Adults should know better. They are always blaming the kids, but kids don’t drink coffee. I’m telling my parents to stop buying coffee and make it at home instead. If I see one more coffee cup on the ground I’m going to scream” (Grade 4 student). One of the most interesting things to me is: with all the advertising companies do on their products we know exactly where the litter is coming from. Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s were the brands of coffee that were being carelessly tossed. McDonald’s offers $1 drinks several times per year. Why not offer those deals to people bringing reusable cups?! Tim Horton’s has their “Roll Up The Rim” promotion (which isn’t evening happening now and there were still so many of their cups on our street). Even if you bring your own cup you have to get one of the their cups in order to have an opportunity to win a prize. Why are the people who want to do something environmental being forced to make a decision about whether or not they should go against their ideals to have a chance at a prize. Maybe you only have a chance at the prize when you use a reusable cup?! Why is consuming hot beverages from cups that are not recyclable so widely accepted in our society. It made me think of Tim Jackson (2006) and his focus on “what government agencies can do to facilitate a wider public shift towards reduced consumption. Governments need to create a policy framework that both encourages people to break their existing consumption habits and penalizes wasteful consumption…” (Mulligan p. 45-46).

Friday, November 2– I was not at school today because I had a conference to go to. I ended up at Starbucks again (after doing well with making my own coffee for Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday) but I brought my own cup AND an extra for my colleague just in case she forgot hers (which she did!). She appreciated my thoughtfulness and plans on making a change herself. *I would also like to point out that early in the week a different colleague commented on my $2.00 reusable Starbucks cup. I got one for her and she has used it each day since!! We went for lunch on Friday as well. We chose to go to a restaurant that prides themselves on using local ingredients.

Saturday, November 3– I had a “No Spend Saturday”. This was pretty easy because I was busy with schoolwork, but also since I was at home all day I was tempted to do some online shopping. I talked myself out of making any purchases because a) I wanted to have a day where I didn’t purchase anything AND b) I didn’t actually need anything. I ate leftover soup that I had made earlier in the week (which made for quick meals during the week and was healthy and tasty).

Sunday, November 4– The only purchase I made was a coffee on the way to the airport to meet a friend, and the cost to park at the airport. Overall I was pretty successful at not spending much and instead consuming what I already had at home this weekend!

Things of Note from Part 2 of journalling:

  • I had a lot of different thoughts and ideas this week. I thought I would choose one area to focus on, but instead there ended up being many different things to note and consider.
  • I was more open about my concerns and ideas and people were receptive and even willing to make changes themselves. I’m ready for my views on consumerism to be heard and my ideas to inspire others to make simple but effective changes.
  • I have work to do! Responsible grocery shopping is going to be a real focus for me. The choices I make for my household can/will impact “the hide costs of hyperconsumption” (Mulligan p. 36). Better planning and intent will result in less plastic in my purchases-which has to take priority.

FInal Thoughts: 

  1. I practice the 6Rs (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect, Repeat) but also really like these 8Rs!
  2. I have some decisions to make about Christmas. If I want change to happen then it needs to start with me. Some ideas that have come up from this process are: keeping a spending journal, buying fewer material gifts and more experiences for gifts, using paper that can be recycled or cover gifts with things such as towels that can just be put back in the drawer (the fun part is the surprise, who cares what the wrapping looks), making an effort to buy local, considering the needs of others instead of the wants that I have (especially with my students. Last year two students bought gifts in my honour-a scarf for a homeless person and a donation made in my name for a local charity. They did this because they knew me well and knew how I would appreciate that as a gift. Maybe I let parents know that. It is always very awkward when students bring in teacher gifts at Christmas. They do it because they “should” and because they want to, but honestly I don’t need anything) and making the holidays about being together instead of gifts.
  3. I’ve really enjoyed this process. I spent a lot of time scrolling through Instagram finding posts that resonated with me and connected with the points I was trying to make. The required reading and supplemental material was helpful to make connections as well.
  4. We can all ask ourselves this question…

Until Next Time,



Mulligan, M. (2018) An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Bulk Barn: Reusable Container Program:

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