Let’s kick things off with a little challenge: can you think of 3 songs on the themes of equality, sustainability, peace, and tolerance?
Ok, I’ll start us off:
Did you think of any of the same ones? Probably not; there’s tons to choose from. Lots of different artists have expressed their concern for the world we live in through their lyrics. But we’re not here to talk about music.
The reason I’m here is because the desire for a better and fairer world is something that most of the world’s population shares. We think about it and talk about it a lot, and it becomes one of our resolutions each new year. In recent years it’s been even more so at the forefront of our minds, thanks in part to the work of the United Nations with the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
So, what are the Sustainable Development Goals? Why are they so important in education? In this article we’ll answer these questions and share some ideas to help you work on them in your classes with Genially.
What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) symbolize the main challenges we face today as we strive for a better future. They highlight issues such as equality, caring for the environment, and ending poverty. But there are many more, up to a total of 17 goals.
They were chosen through a survey that the United Nations General Assembly carried out, but that was not all. With the goals in hand, the 2030 Agenda was created in 2015 and signed by no fewer than 193 countries. All that was left was to do the math: we had 15 years to meet the goals. Would they be enough?
Before answering that question, let’s look at what the 17 objectives are.
What are the goals?
To explain what the 17 SDGs are and what each one consists of, what could be better than an interactive guide like this one? Click on each one and discover more details about each goal and its impact on our society.
Why are the SDGs so important in education?
As teachers, we have a great responsibility: to try to improve the world around us and make it a better place for future generations. How? By encouraging our students to analyze and understand the importance of acting in a fair and sustainable way. We often ask ourselves what kind of world we are going to leave to new generations, but perhaps the question should be what kind of people we are going to leave to our world?
Making this world a better place is in their hands. That is the message we must convey to them and the one that will motivate them to act.
In addition, working with the SDGs allows us to approach our classes in a different way. For example, it allows us to focus more on student competencies. The focus of learning about the SDGs is not on memorizing statistics or concepts, but on reflecting and thinking critically.
Likewise, the curriculum becomes more transversal. We can work on different topics in an interdisciplinary way and connect them with other areas of study in the curriculum. For example, when working on SDG 12: Responsible production and consumption, we can propose a project in which students must carry out different activities such as:
- analyzing and comparing the impact of various products through life cycle analysis,
- calculating the individual and school ecological footprint,
- organizing and designing an awareness campaign, and creating digital or physical promotional material to be distributed in the school.
This way they’ll work on knowledge and skills from different subjects. We’ll be able to implement active methodologies such as Project-Based Learning (PBL) and, by doing so, create learning situations that invite them to reflect, interact, and find solutions to real problems. And, at the same time, we will be enhancing other knowledge not only related to the SDGs, but also to other areas or subjects.
In the end, it’s about putting our learning to work to bring about positive change in our environment. Because learning about the SDGs and their impact goes beyond learning concepts and ideas. It means activating collaborative and supportive attitudes. This is how students develop valuable skills for their personal and professional development while doing their bit for a better world.
Ideas and inspiration for working on the SDGs in class with Genially
When it comes to learning about the SDGs in our classes, the most effective way is to work on them through real and authentic situations. To achieve this, we’ll give you some guidelines to help awaken their motivation and get them involved from the word go.
Emotions are a good place to start a session
Want to get your class really engaged with the SDGs? Start with content that stirs their emotions, moves them, and highlights the importance of taking action now. How? One of the most effective ways to move people is through storytelling.
First choose the SDG you want to work on, then come up with a short story and characters, and bring them to life. Let them tell their story and the problems they face. To do this, you can use a breakout like this one, which we think is great for SDG 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
If you want to start with something simpler that shows the impact of human behavior on society and the planet at a glance, use a flashcard like this one. You could use it to work on SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.
Choose two images of the same place: one that illustrates what the place looked like in the past, and one that shows what the place looks like now, after being industrialized. Let your class look at and analyze the images: does it really show a sustainable, environmentally and people-friendly infrastructure? If not, what other alternatives are there? The debate is on.
Learn through research
As we’ve already mentioned, the SDGs are an ideal subject for project work. By working this way, students become the protagonists of their own learning, cooperate, and can make decisions until they find the best solution.
Do you want to clearly present the knowledge needed for their project and guide them towards the solution? Use a visual resource like a timeline. This one is perfect for working on SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. They can refer to the information as many times as they need.
No project is complete if students do not generate a product and present it to the class. Promote a maker culture and encourage them to create a presentation to communicate the process they have followed, their conclusions, and the solution they propose. In Genially you’ll find templates for each SDG. For example, this template is great for working on SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.
Create real materials
Don’t stop there! After the effort on the part of your class, it’s time to share their work with the world. You can create communication and outreach materials that take your findings and solutions beyond the classroom, to the whole school, or even to your community! Creating and publishing your own newspaper is a great way to reach and engage more people and raise awareness.
And finally… revise in Genially style
Now that you’ve worked on the SDGs with your class, it’s a good time to reinforce what you’ve learned with a thematic quiz like this one. With 17 questions (one for each goal), students can discuss each answer as a group and test their knowledge while having fun.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to work on the SDGs with Genially in the classroom. Students will have fun and discover that a more sustainable life is possible. And as their teacher, you’ll give each student the voice and the tools to become the person they want to be.
We’ll keep sharing initiatives and materials so that you can learn about the SDGs from anywhere on the planet. Keep up the amazing work; the world needs teachers as great as you.