Boomerang Bags

Parap Primary School

Kids care about their communities and about the world we all live in, and the Eco-Warriors of Parap Primary School are no different. The action they took to address the problem of plastic pollution is an example to us all.

This is the story of how teacher Chelsea Collins’ students used Solution Fluency and rallied their community to help them put their very own Boomerang Bags in the hands of local shoppers.

Parap Primary School, situated in Australia’s Northern Territory, first opened its doors in 1958. The school offers students a creative, caringn and nurturing environment for learning, with dedicated and experienced teachers providing a positive and enriching program that truly appreciates the individual needs and interests of each and every child.

Kathleen Baker Brown first introduced Lee’s Essential Fluencies to us in 2016. I immediately resonated with Lee’s model. Using the 6Ds is an innovative and practical framework in which to get things done … the opportunity to work with Lee has affirmed my teaching practice.

Chelsea Collins

Parap PS

The learning has definitely transformed my “flatliners,” or my lower achieving students, and I’m witnessing a boost in confidence and participation. There is some incredible higher-order thinking and learning going on for all of my students, exceeding my expectations.

Chelsea Collins

Parap PS

I have seen a positive shift in the culture of our school with future-focused learning. To continually improve, we must learn together from each other, be respectful, collaborate, and strive to achieve our personal best. I do look forward to growing and learning more about my students and myself through the Fluencies.

Chelsea Collins

Parap PS

What does it take to inspire

meaningful change?

The question of how one can make a difference in the world is a powerful one. When given the right focus, it can lead to actions that eventually inspire widespread transformation. Such was the question facing the young learners of Australia’s Parap Primary School. A whole-school approach to environmental sustainability led the school to form the Eco-School team to tackle environmental issues of every sort.

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The Eco-Committee meets at least once a week to talk over pressing environmental issues, and the whole school is involved on some  level to a commitment to action. Additionally, the student-led Eco-Warriors team has done everything from tree planting to building a sustainable eco-garden. But for the longest time the most pressing issue on their minds has been the need to reduce the amount of plastic and plastic bags in our community and the in world.

Where do we

begin to transform?

On this particular occasion the Eco-Warriors decided something had to be done on a local level about the plastic polluting our oceans and harming marine life. “Parap Village markets run every Saturday, rain or shine,” explains Year 2 teacher Chelsea Collins. “Nearly every vendor pushes a single-use plastic bag. Students found this very distressing and this was their starting point.”

Using the Solution Fluency process, the Eco-Warriors began their quest by asking themselves how they could make a difference in the face of what they had discovered. That’s when they came across the innovative Boomerang Bags project, which provides a sustainable alternative to using plastic bags.

“The Boomerang Bags initiative offered the warriors a tangible alternative to plastic bags, and Solution Fluency a framework in which to do so,” Chelsea recalls. “The international initiative had not yet reached Territorian soil so we were all very excited to make our mark on the map.”

How do we plot a

path to success?

The Eco-Warriors team worked with the Eco-Committee members and also the community at large, which involved sending request letters to collect everything they needed. The students produced a number of unique and creative prototype designs that went into construction.

They used recycled materials for their bags, and spent time deciding on the best screen printing colours and designing creative poster ideas. In addition to this, they found they weren’t alone in their quest to make a difference—others were just as keen on lending a hand as well.

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“A team of hard working Super Mums and community members jumped on board to bring the dream to fruition,” says Chelsea.  In addition to parental and community support, the local Chief Minister and other stakeholders pitched in to realize the Eco-Warriors’ vision.

Of course, Chelsea was amazed and excited with the results the students produced. “The initial goal was 300 bags, and bang—the goods were manifested and distributed in local businesses. To this date our collective have made 1,500 bags and growing.”

How do we measure

growth and progress?

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  • Students are taking ownership of their learning in creative ways.
  • Higher-order thinking processes are stimulated using the Fluencies as learning processes.
  • There is a boost in confidence and participation in learning.
  • There is a significant improvement in achievement and attitude.
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  • Teachers have the freedom to be more creative with their teaching.
  • Instruction is no longer so linear for teachers and students.
  • They can facilitate lessons in ways that inspire themselves and their learners.
  • The Fluencies offer tools to help fine-tune instruction, assessment, and feedback.
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  • Staff have been given more autonomy through their professional judgment.
  • Learning is more fluid, organic, and more enriching as a result.
  • The Fluencies provide a pedagogical approach that puts children at the center of the learning.
  • Students, parents, teachers, and other community members are all working together toward shared goals.

How do we continue to

improve and excel?

Looking back, Chelsea is still uplifted by the response to the Boomerang Bags project taken on by Parap Primary’s intrepid Eco-Warriors. “The students, parents, and community members dedicated tireless hours to grow the dream,” she says. “It’s a project that keeps on giving.”

So what’s on the horizon for Chelsea and her students? Finding more and more ways to change the world, and having some fun in the process. Her plan is to continue exploring how the Essential Fluencies can enhance learning for both her and her students.

“We are still in an infancy stage of the journey—that being said, I think we are doing pretty darn well. The teachers that have embraced this Fluencies model are excited, passionate and giving their all,” says Chelsea. “I look forward to growing and learning more about my students and myself through the Fluencies.”