Sustainable seas

By Claire Pattle

”To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.”

- Bill Gates.

My intention was never to become a teacher, however, I am very glad that this is where I ended up. Having taught high school students for many years, I only really realised my true passion in education when someone ‘took a chance on me’ and decided to employ me as an edtech coach a few years ago. Since then, I have realised that edtech coaching is what gives me energy. I have, in the process of working with educators to see the way they teach from a different angle, transformed the way I teach too.

I learnt most of what I know from my PLN (Professional Learning Network), Lindsay Wesner, and social media. I love Google! That said, I simply love everything ‘tech’ and I believe that tech and education have a mutually beneficial relationship. I enjoy using an inquiry-based approach in my teaching and this is a brief summary of a recent project for Social Sciences (Geography) which I completed in Term 4, with my Grade 7 students, at Thomas More College, where I started teaching in January 2020.

The vision

The vision

With this Inquiry-Based Learning unit, I wanted the students to discover and research natural resources and their sustainability, specifically...

How the ocean could become our most sustainable natural resource?


This topic allowed me to cover most of the content of the Natural Resources syllabus, such as Water pollution, Air Pollution, Fishing, Water in South Africa, and Management of Resources in one task. I used the task to cover content and facilitate an inquiry process that focused on one aspect of the content.

Curriculum standards

The vision
Curriculum standards


  • identify and solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking;
  • work effectively as individuals and with others as members of a team;
  • organise and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively;
  • collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information;
  • communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various modes;
  • use science and technology effectively and critically showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem solving contexts do not exist in isolation.

Learning journey

The vision

This learning journey was conducted over 10 x 1-hour lessons.

I used Google sites to create a content based website for delivering the necessary information required by students for this section of the curriculum.

Some smaller assessments were integrated into the site for assessment of understanding of content.

Subjects integrated into this Inquiry Based Task were Geography, English and Science. Science covered a topic of Wave Energy, and all the English tasks such as comprehension passages, poems, creative writing tasks and a film study (My Octopus Teacher) related to the topic of Natural Resources. 


Teacher Feature

The vision

Student activities

The vision


The task was introduced by calculating your ecological footprint and the task topic was introduced  using a TED prize talk by Sylvia Earle. The sustainable development goals were also used to drive this topic - specifically goal #14: Life Below Water.

The students were then given a questionnaire to complete to assess what their ecological footprint is.

I used Google Forms to create a number of different engagement and assessment activities such as:

  • A 'See, Think, Wonder' activity with a visual provocation to spark curiosity in the students
  • Inviting students to caption images to demonstrate their understanding 
  • a data analysis and interpretation task
  • comprehension tasks related to our driving question


A 'See, Think, Wonder' activity with a visual provocation to spark curiosity in the students


Inviting students to caption images to demonstrate their understanding


A data analysis and interpretation task


Comprehension tasks related to our driving question

The students decided on a company name and logo and created a digital presentation which they used to present orally to a panel of “Shark Tank” judges.

The presentations were live-streamed via Zoom to the authentic audience, which included an environmentalist, a marine specialist, the other grade 7 students watching from their classrooms (due to limitations on numbers allowed in the Shark Tank venue), and their parents at home or at the office. 

Teacher reflections

The vision
  • Addressing a real world problem helped students identify with the task
  • Working in the task purely during class time reduced stress if doing this task in an “examination ” term. It also allowed for successful group work and collaboration.
  • Out the box thinking by students was evident
  • Seeing students develop the life skill of presenting to an authentic audience was awesome!
  • We engaged in a combination of prepared and impromptu speaking activities 
  • Having a marine specialist and an environmentalist on the judging panel made the questions for the students after their presentations more authentic.

Technology used

The vision

My students and I, used the following apps in this task:

  • Google Sites
  • Google Docs
  • Google Forms
  • Google Slides
  • Google Drawings
  • Microsoft PowerPoint

What's next

The vision

Next time I do this task I would like to combine with EMS, Computers, Science and English departments to have students create a business with a business plan, budget etc too. I would perhaps look at alternative ways of presenting the solution so as to keep those who are not presenting at a particular time better entertained or busy working on something else.

Closing thoughts

The vision

“The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.”

- Albert Einstein


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