The steps below are meant as a guide. Your action project journey will probably involve moving back and forth through some of these steps and some that are unique to your group’s experience. Many of the steps have an accompanying suggested activity. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about the full kit and the accompanying workshop.
1. Decide on Goals and
- As a mentor, decide on your own goals. Why are you facilitating an action project?
- Decide on your priorities. For example, is it most important to you that you:
- address a particular content area of the curriculum
- help your students to build skills
- Will the group be your class or an extra-curricular club?
- Decide on your own parameters/boundaries.
2. Form a Group
- Your group should contain members that represent administration, teachers, students, support staff, head caretaker, parents, school council and community members whenever possible. With the group, check: is there anyone who is not part of your group who should be specifically invited to participate to improve the efficacy of your group? (e.g. someone with a particular role in your school or community or people from a particular grade.)
- As a group, decide how you want your club to work:
- What decision-making model will you use? (eg. majority-wins, consensus decision-making, etc.)
- When and how often will you meet?
- How will discussions be handled to encourage constructive dialogue?
3. Choose an Issue
As a group,
- Explore types of projects and issues that can be tackled through action projects.
- Identify an issue/problem that is important to the group. The importance of having the project initiated by the students cannot be underestimated.
Decide on the criteria you will use to choose an issue. For example:
- Is it locally relevant?
- Is it relevant to the students’ lives?
4. Build Motivation
Spend time allowing students to describe the reasons to care about this issue. This will be the foundation of motivation you will draw on throughout the project-take time to build it well. You may:
- Have a discussion
- Create an individual written/visual response to the question, “why care?”
- Visit the important animals (humans count!) and/or places that you are working to protect
- Create a group mural
- Take photos of the important animals and/or places that you are working to protect
5. Do Some Research
- What has already been done on this issue? What can you learn from those experiences?
- Is there anyone else in your community who is already working on this, or that has knowledge that could help you? Don’t feel you need to reinvent the wheel!
6. Make a Plan
- Decide on the criteria you will use to choose an action. Does it address the root cause of the problem? For example,
| Litter in Cafeteria
Student reluctance to put waste in bins?
A lack of recycling facilities?
The use of disposable containers in the cafeteria?
- Choose an action.
- As a group, make a very detailed plan including timelines and clearly stating who is doing what. Post the plan somewhere where everyone in the group has access to it. Check in with the plan frequently and revise as necessary.
- Create milestones that can be celebrated along the way and will help you to track your progress.
7. Define Success
For example, for an anti-idling campaign, does “success” mean that 100% of the visitors to the school never idle their cars? Is this realistic? Constructive? Does success mean that most of the students in the club become comfortable and effective when educating people they do not know very well? As a group, choose definitions of success that are appropriate and motivating.
8. Identify Barriers
Look at the barriers that may affect your success and reflect on productive ways to deal with them.
9. Teach Skills
Decide on the skills and knowledge people in the group need to complete the project and teach them explicitly (e.g. Interview skills, letter writing). Remember that one of the goals of the project is for students to feel equipped and motivated to do another project...For help, see the book Take Action by Mark and Craig Kielburger.
10. Do It!
a) Check in with your action plan (from step #6) frequently and revise as necessary.
b) Have students take turns making entries into a group journal or log book tracking what you’re doing and how they are feeling about it. The information and the reflections will be helpful to you for your next project and can be shared with another group who wants to do a similar project when they hear about yours.
c) Have students reflect on your action project throughout the process. How are you doing? Are there any changes that could be made to make your project better?
Celebrate milestones along the way and at the end of the project. Check in with your goals for the project to celebrate different types of accomplishments like a challenging but effective discussion, new skills, or the new-found support of someone who was previously a barrier.
As a culminating activity, perhaps you would like to have a celebration at the school or at a relevant location in your community.
Facilitate a formal reflection activity at the end of the project. For example, make a mural, write an article for the local paper, have a formal discussion, etc.
Congratulations! Rinse and Repeat.