Social Systems and Structures
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Social Systems and Structures
Looking at the bigger picture in Local Governments.
Curated by Belinda Pomare
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Clean Up Australia Day - Official Site

Clean Up Australia Day - Official Site | Social Systems and Structures |
Clean Up Australia Day inspires thousands of Australians to take to their local park, beach, bushland and streets to clean up their local environment.

Via Lauren T
Belinda Pomare's comment, April 13, 2013 5:43 AM
The website discuss what Clean Up Australia Day is and how you can help in your local community. It allows students to see the site for their local area and how they can register. This is a great source to understand some of the things local government does, that is, cleaning up communities for a better environment now and in the future. Sustainability is a focus on this lesson and students begin to understand how important it is to save the environment so as to ensure it is in great condition for generations to come.

As an excursion students will visit a community on this day and in groups will record short documentaries. Students will include what the day is about, what the local governments do to help and why it is important. This assessment activity will allow students to create a media resource as well as focusing on communication skills. As Ballantyne, Connell and Fien (1998) state children are catalysts for change and as such in the classroom we need to teach them how to care for the environment. (Gilbert., Hoepper, 2011, pp. 356-7)

Gilbert., R, Hoepper., B (2011). Teaching society and Environment. Cengage Learning Australia Pty Limited
Lauren T's curator insight, April 15, 2013 3:41 AM

Clean Up Australia Day is Australia’s largest community-based environmental event, and is an excellent example of the power community groups have to make a difference to their environment and their society. The website provides a history of the movement, case studies, information on how to organise a Clean Up Day, and resources for organisers and educators. Onsite teaching resources include an interactive Clean Up the River flash game for students, which is aligned to both National and State curriculums (teacher’s notes are provided by state), and sets of lesson plans centred around both sustainability and the Clean Up Australia Day event.


A lesson or unit of work involving Clean Up Australia Day could involve a project-based inquiry into garbage in the school, employing Habermas’ concept of technical, interpretive, and emancipatory knowledge as a base for their critical inquiry (cited in Gilbert & Hoepper, 2011, p. 49). Students will devise a set of inquiry questions about how garbage and recycling is handled in the school – for example, how much waste does the school produce, which parts of the school have the most litter, or which class recycles the most – and then investigate with observations and measurements. Using this technical data as a base, students can then survey other students about their thoughts and habits, and combining their two forms of data, develop ideas for how waste could be better handled to improve the school environment for everyone. This could culminate in the organisation of a class-wide or school-wide Clean Up Day.

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After-school 2.0: How Technology Can Create a Learning Community

After-school 2.0: How Technology Can Create a Learning Community | Social Systems and Structures |
After-school 2.0: How Technology Can Create a Learning Community...


We all understand the paradox of technology: energy waster versus knowledge accelerator. My son will start kindergarten next year so I pay close attention to how parents of younger children approach technology. While my wife could immerse him in visual arts and literature, and I could coach him on game mechanics and the best slice of pizza in New York City, we quite sensibly ruled out homeschooling. So, we are embarking on the painstaking process of choosing the best school for him.We unearthed arcane but insightful forums from the underbelly of the parent-verse online. But mostly, we speak to other parents and passionate school representatives. Due diligence is largely trumped by word-of-mouth and intuition about which school fits your child.

I work in the esoteric field of social media marketing, which centers on how people form social connections, and how word-of-mouth informs behavior. A four-year-old is a petri dish for word-of-mouth. My son returns home with caches of unattributed information culled from his wonderfully diverse ecosystem of neighborhood (West Village), school (Village Preschool Center), after-school (Greenwich House, Chelsea Piers, Culinary Kids), and family friends (hey, Jack and Daphne). Oddly, you learn to trust this community more than any source.

The three schools we're applying to all understand that technology must always evolve more quickly than best practices, especially when children are involved. But given my faith in community, I have been noodling ideas on how to use technology to facilitate after-school community—privately and safely—for even younger kids and their parents:

1. Getting to Know You: Enable students to get to know each other, and share ideas, in a closed and secure online environment prior to beginning the school year. For example, over the summer, students are invited to a virtual event, in which they spend two minutes in a video chat with another incoming student before the screen automatically refreshes to the next pairing. In this way, students form early social connections, and parents can meet their new community to plan activities, or just play-dates. If students adopt a theme such as after-school volunteering, this initial experience sets a precedent for a collaborative after-school environment, and this closed video chat environment can be used throughout the year by parents for group discussions.

2. Lifebrary: Facebook boasts its Timeline; students should have their Lifebrary. In it, students publish a monthly compilation of his/her personal after-school projects, or just favorite moments from their home life: videos, photos, JPEGs of book covers, audio, writing, and art. Friends can then share securely with their friends' (parents) to look at each other’s Lifebrary boards. In this way, children are able to relive their favorite moments.

Since parents will obviously assist younger children in posting content, they are able to share their passions with their kids—in my family’s case, our love for art and technology. We even caption the pictures and videos together to verbalize the effort. Admittedly, there are more pictures of Elvis the Corgi, Top 40 artists, and home videos than Mark Rothko paintings or artistic Instagram photos on our Lifebrary. But they are all great memories.

3. Community-Sourcing: Community-sourcing is the private version of crowdsourcing—members of a community acting together to create a product or experience online. In an after-school setting, a group of students employs basic collaborative software to build after-school projects, or organize after-school activities. They can even submit ideas to Kickstarter, if their parents approve. Our office is launching a program for my employees to identify and execute opportunities to volunteer social media marketing support for charitable organizations based on agency-wide collaboration. After-school programs can come to life similarly through parents. Community sourcing also becomes a way to get parents, the extended school community, or even other schools to participate in after-school projects despite everyone’s busy schedule.

4. Fundraising: Having just experienced Hurricane Sandy, our son’s preschool arranged to donate items to families in the Rockaways, Sea Bright and Breezy Point. However, one of the challenges facing all New Yorkers was simply identifying how to contribute. Parents and staffers independently volunteered to drive the materials directly to families in need. It was a great effort. However, we also used’s open credentialing to purchase goods to be sent directly to families as well as through the Red Cross. By having a link to share through emails and bulletin boards through iTunes or Amazon accounts, we sent tens of thousands of dollars worth of diapers, batteries, and food to families in need. Technology facilitates fundraising by seamlessly tapping into our respective online networks. The ability to fundraise can be embedded within any digital presence.

5. Shared (Non-Concurrent) Experiences: Everyone is busier than ever. It is difficult to organize after-school activities and take advantage of the diversity in the community. Yet, we can all still share more experiences, just not always at the same time. Recently, my son and I went on a scavenger hunt through Google. We used links from websites and social networks to collect screen-grabs of the animals of Africa. We then drew them on the iPad through our Sketchbook App.

The scavenger hunt was followed by a trip to the zoo with iPhone in hand. This same exercise was repeated by three of his friends with other friends, and a bunch of us met a few weeks later over pizza to share. Our goal is not only to get the kids more interested in learning about animals or use the net, but also to learn how to share in a different way—one that becomes increasingly common later in life.

Please bear in mind that I am a parent, not an educator. However, if my son's school is interested in doing any of these five things, boy, I would love to help. See, the best uses of technology require a precedent and antecedent. Screens are a means, not an end. They work best as conduits between real-world dialogues, lessons, and experiences. Let’s help our schools use technology to build community.


Via Giri Kumar
Belinda Pomare's insight:

Take note of number 3. Major focus on how we are starting to improve community life through schools with technology. 

Belinda Pomare's comment, April 13, 2013 4:53 AM
Community is of key importance in this source. In this local community a father speaks of the importance of the school community and what they do. In particular in the classroom we would focus on point 3, which discusses community sourcing. That is an online experience for children to build projects together and also offers employees a chance to support organisations. It allows communities to become stronger, whether it is as a school community of local community. It is ultimately bringer us closer to a learning community.

The focus of the lesson will be bringing communities together. An example of how students can see a range of possibilities in learning is through the Community Problem Solving Program. (Hoepper., Gilbert, 2011, pp. 153) Students need an understanding of community exploration and as such students will research their own local community and how it could interact with the school community. Students will make posters of their local government, what they do and furthermore add what the school community does that is the same. From this we are linking school learning with community experience and students will learn how things operate in their local government.

Gilbert., R, Hoepper., B (2011). Teaching society and Environment. Cengage Learning Australia Pty Limited
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UrbiCulture Community Farms: Mile-High Life-Changing Urban Farming - Organic Connections

UrbiCulture Community Farms: Mile-High Life-Changing Urban Farming - Organic Connections | Social Systems and Structures |
Candice Orlando and her team have created a remarkable multi-plot urban farm, UrbiCulture Community Farms, which is catering to local residents from all walks of life.
Belinda Pomare's comment, April 13, 2013 4:31 AM
This particular source is extremely explicit in what it entails. It discusses the background of the farms, that is, the story of a woman motivated to teach others how to grow food organically and encourage others to eat fresh food through growing it. The young woman speaks of sharing her project with schools and other local communities so as to produce local food for people that need it and cannot afford it. From this teachers should consider a social justice perspective on their lesson. In schools students create their own fresh food farm and as class groups they will travel on an excursion to homeless shelters/ low-income housing to delegate the food.

Schniedewind and Davidson (2006) propose social justice education and as such see a context of classroom interaction, group support and emphasising critical awareness. Students will write up reports as an assessment about what they have learnt and how this social justice activity is helpful in the growth of social development as well as bringing communities closer.

Gilbert., R, Hoepper., B (2011). Teaching society and Environment. Cengage Learning Australia Pty Limited.
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Kids Helping Kids

Tyler Page, just 10 years old inspired by an Oprah show raises $21,000 in 6 months for child trafficking (fishing slavery) and starts a non-profit company ca...
Belinda Pomare's insight:

Truly heart-warming.

Belinda Pomare's comment, April 13, 2013 5:32 AM
The video looks at a 10-year-old boy who after watching an episode of opera decided to create a non-profit group to safe children from becoming victims of slavery in Ghana. He learnt about the problems in Ghana where families sold their children to become slaves. This video takes a look at a global perspective of improving community life.

As a teaching idea, the idea generates from ‘Pay it forward Day’, in particular at a school in the United States. This is a day where the school can work as a community to help those in need. The focus is on students helping those in need, firstly in a smaller context, that is, in local community and eventually globally. Students as a class will firstly get in contact with a young child in need of help whether it be, being homeless, medically ill or of low-socio economic background. From this students will create a school and community wide project such as a recycling program to help pay for any important needs such as surgery or medical bills. From this the children are making a big difference and the whole community is benefiting from the success.
Students will then form groups and report back to the class on their experiences.

Pay it forward day. (N.D.) Ideas 4 Paying it forward in schools. Retrieved on April 12th from
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Department of Local Government - Local Government Services in Aboriginal Communities

Belinda Pomare's insight:

By downloading the information sheet we are able to see the broader picture of what the local government is proposing to do, to help the Indigenous communities.

Belinda Pomare's comment, April 13, 2013 5:17 AM
We are looking at local government services in indigenous communities. This document discusses such things as improving the delivery of local government services. It speaks of the fewer services indigenous people receive in their local government and as such the want to have a four way partnership between indigenous communities, commonwealth, stage and local governments to make services better. It also speaks of youth being important and as such is hoping to improve health and living condition for communities leading to an active involvement in local government projects.

As this topic is the most touching, a guest speaking will come into the classroom and talk to students about their life experiences. After this experience students will write a speech discussing key points of the talk and also students will include a researched Indigenous community of their choice. Students will talk about this community, their customs and beliefs and also how the students think the local government can help. This assessment is essential for children as the development of speaking and listening skills are of huge importance for a child’s intellectual, social and emotional development. (I can talk series, issue 6, pp.3)


‘I can help children community. (Issue 6) Speech, Language and Communication Needs and Primary school-aged Children. Retrieved on 13th April, from’