Read more stories

    We embrace an interactive and engaging teaching philosophy at International School Bangkok (ISB), with active participation by students throughout each course. As Elementary Home Room Grade 5 teacher, Beth Burnett has shown, sometimes the best way to nurture students’ imaginations is to let them take the lead.


    Following the concept of service learning, Ms. Beth Burnett and her grade 5 learners explored issues surrounding environmental sustainability. They began to focus their attention on single-use plastic straws, exploring creative solutions to combat the overwhelming global issue of plastic waste. Upon learning more about the issue, the class decided to “take the lead”, developing positive action plans for reducing the use of plastic straws within their own community and beyond.


    Burnett recalls the high level of motivation among her students: “They want to make a change. They found a problem, they wanted to come up with a solution, and they wanted to see that solution through to fruition.”


    By simply introducing a concept, a problem, and a chance to develop a real and applicable solution in their local community, Burnett’s teaching approach inspired tremendous enthusiasm. Students jumped at the chance to show responsibility, commitment, care and courage – and to make a real change for the better.


    These qualities fit perfectly with the concept of service learning, whereby students are encouraged to explore and connect with contemporary subjects and the local community. Service learning is an excellent way to build stronger community ties, while showing students that they can get involved in real issues and make a genuine difference.


    When students take the lead


    Students took the initiative to lead this project, from conception to delivery to advocated change, inspire hope and make a real change with a viable solution. One student said, “We made posters and artwork that showed the damage that plastic straws could cause and possible solutions to the problem. The posters were powerful, but we didn’t think we had done enough. Then we got an idea to advocate for the Earth and present to the students and teachers at ISB about the effects of straw pollution.”


    Burnett’s Grade 5 learners decided on more ambitious plans of action. These included:

    • Forming committees with the “No More Plastic Straws” at ISB slogan, and convincing the school cafeteria manager to replace plastic straws with bamboo or paper straws. The cafeteria sold over 300 reusable bamboo straws in the first few weeks.
    • Making a slideshow to present what the class had learned about the negative effects of plastic straws and possible solutions.
    • Presenting their ideas to high school and elementary classrooms, as well as the entire middle school in a special service learning assembly. These presentations gave everyone in Burnett’s class a chance to present to other class at least once.


    Ms. Burnetts international experience and qualifications have carefully helped shape her approach to teaching and her understanding of global issues and the need for creative adaptable problem solving. As a teacher she explores implemented inquiry-based learning, focusing on idea generation and analysis that focuses on positive, growth-mindset and community. An approach that is key to any service learning project.


    Through service learning, ISB students become more aware of world issues. Their motivation was sparked by introducing the problem, then students were given and the space and time to grow and develop a solution to the problem, and finally, they were provided the means to implement that solution.


    ISB teachers offer supportive, encouraging and creative, learning environments, that help to develop students that are self-managing, globally minded, value-driven, socially intelligent, adaptable and creative learners, who strive to enrich their local and greater global community. This project of Burnett’s class is a great example of ISB teaching and learning in action!

    Please click on the link below  to view the  “No Plastic Straw!”