Alana, HS, Marketing

Increasing Student Involvement

Interview with Alana Vinther

In this interview Alana describes how she uses Facing the Future activities to engage students on an emotional level and increase student involvement.

School: Global Connections High School, SeaTac, WA 

Grades: 9-12     Classroom Size: ~21

Subject: Marketing

Classroom Challenges:

  • Achievement Gap
  • At-risk Youth
  • Classroom Management
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Gifted or Advanced Learners
  • Prescribed instruction
  • Special Needs/Inclusion

Click on a topic below to read more about Alana's work:

Please describe your experience with Facing the Future materials and how you use them in your classroom:

"I start off with Facing the Future lessons to build a value of sustainability within students. Generally, students don’t come into marketing with sustainability in mind, so I use the lessons to introduce the concepts. Sustainability is the lens I use in my marketing class. I start building a value about why they should care at the beginning of the year. They are teenagers living in America and a value of sustainability is not part of the culture. These materials work well with our kids because they don’t have a lot of money and often times being more sustainable means saving money."

Alana uses the following Facing the Future resource:

Please describe the course with which you have used Facing the Future materials:

"I use Facing the Future materials as an introduction to sustainability in my marketing class. I start with them first – why it matters to them. I changed my whole curriculum to focus on sustainability. I instituted a global sustainability project which is the culmination of the class in which they develop an awareness campaign where they apply marketing strategies (e.g., channels of distribution, demographics, etc.)."

A lot of teachers struggle to find room in their curriculum for supplemental materials, like Facing the Future materials. How did you do this?

"It’s very difficult. I did it at the same time as I introduced the global sustainability project in the third quarter and I had to reduce the quantity of what I was teaching in my curriculum. I overlaid the marketing framework with the articulation agreement with the local technical prep association and kept the topics that were in both so the kids could still get marketing credit for college. Then I made room for the project and building the sustainability value in the beginning. I had to give up some breadth of curriculum to be able to have the depth in sustainability."

What standards were used or met when using Facing the Future materials?

"I’m sure it meets some of the Education for Environment and Sustainability standards from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), but I haven’t matched those yet. Some of marketing core standards are also addressed."

What were your main objectives/goals for this unit?

"To build a value of sustainability. I had to make them aware of it so they would buy into the rest of the stuff I was going to teach them. I have to appeal to their emotions and get them to care."

How did the Facing the Future lessons help you meet these objectives/goals?

"I tell them about realities outside this country and inside this country in terms of consumption. Using Facing the Future lessons gives me an organized way to do that."

What skills did your students gain?

"Lots of critical thinking and problem solving. For example, when they do 'Watch Where You Step!', the students do a lot of talking, researching online, and discovering [see Lesson 12 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]. They learn that it’s not just a pair of pants. They gain a lot of awareness. They have to consider, in terms of entrepreneurship, are they going to be just profiteers, or are they going to care about other components of the triple bottom line. They are asked to think about how sustainability can be good from a marketing/business perspective."

How do Facing the Future resources help you address your classroom challenges?

"The materials have a hands-on element to them and there is very little lecture, which I’m always looking for. The topics addressed in the lessons are things that are relevant to the kids. The lessons also involve a lot of small group activities which is engaging for students."

Alana's classroom challenges include:
  • Achievement Gap
  • At-risk Youth
  • Classroom Management
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Gifted or Advanced Learners
  • Prescribed instruction
  • Special Needs/Inclusion

Did you make adjustments to Facing the Future lesson(s)/reading(s) for your classroom type?

"With the apples in 'Is it Sustainable?', I didn’t use one of the pieces of information because of the products available at the time [see Lesson 6 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]. I also change the amount of time suggested for some of the lessons. I’ll take one piece out to accommodate time sometimes. With 'Sides Debate', I invent my own questions [see Lesson 3 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]."

What parts of the unit engaged your students the most?

"Anything that is hands-on and makes them think about something relevant to them. Something that evokes an emotion – compassion, fear, etc. For example, we did the 'Seeking Asylum' lesson and there was someone in my class who’d lived in a refugee camp [see Lesson 11 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]. The lessons allow them to really get outside their own body and experience something that happens in the world."

What resources do you use to complement Facing the Future materials?

How did these resources complement each other?

"[They] helped to build student value for sustainability, get them involved, and showcase what they’d done. For the DECA competition the students have opportunities for on-stage presentations, networking, and recognition."

Did you incorporate an action project or service learning component in the course?

Alana's students participate in a global sustainability project during their third term. For this project: "students work in small groups of 4-5 and select global sustainability issues to address, in an awareness campaign or a hands-on project. Some examples include planting gardens at the school, using fewer disposable water bottles (they had the district test the school water fountains and then they did a campaign to let students know about it), constructing a worm bin, and promoting trees."

Have Facing the Future materials helped you participate in school or district-wide sustainability projects?

"Yes. For the sustainability projects, kids are making calls to the facilities staff, district people, city people, nutrition services, student government, and local businesses."

Do Facing the Future materials help you be a better teacher?

"Yes, because they are all put together so I don’t have to waste time, and then I can share the message. I spent a lot of time with the lessons initially because there is so much detail in each lesson that I want to be clear before using it."

In regard to sustainability and global issues education, what do you want to know more about?

"I would love a bunch of marketing lessons designed around sustainability. I want to learn more about Kiva loans. I would like money to cover transportation costs so kids could participate in field trips related to sustainability issues and events. Working with the district [on the sustainability projects] can sometimes be challenging – I would like to improve these communications."

How do you assess these lessons?

"The global sustainability project is a culminating assessment for the class. There is a rubric that addresses things like impact of the project, time management, and creativity. Students also do presentations and essays."

Tell me about something within this course that went well and something that did not go as well.

"One thing that went well with 'Watch Where You Step!' was having the posters that the kids have created to hang up [see Lesson 12 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]. This is really nice because as people came to the room all year they could see it. It’s nice to have artifacts there. Anything with food is good (e.g., the apples in 'Is It Sustainable?'). They like the critical thinking in the apple example.

In 'Is it Sustainable?', the kids were not engaging in the small group work, especially as they tried to think of government actions [see Lesson 6 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]. They aren’t coming to the lesson with this information so it’s difficult for them to engage."

If you this course again what would you do differently?

"I would provide background knowledge on government actions. They love anything technology – if they could get online to learn more about this that would be great. Maybe I could give them a list of actions and as a group we could categorize which are government, business, and personal actions. Or we could do a student self-survey (e.g. do you do x, y, z) and then they’d guess which of the three categories of actions this falls under and then the teachers would reveal the answers."

What advice, if any, would you give to teachers using these Facing the Future lessons for the first time?

"It’s great curriculum. It’s worth giving up something to do it. Try something new – don’t keep doing things the way you are doing them. And kids like it!" 

Is there anything else that you would like to share with other teachers looking to engage their students in global issues and sustainability?

"It really can be engaging for our students and it makes a difference for all of us and our futures."

Assignments and Rubrics

Here are a few examples of assignments and rubrics Alana uses in her classroom.


Download the Global Sustainability Awareness Campaign Project


Download the Global Sustainability Awareness Campaign Presentation Rubric


Download the Global Sustainability Awareness Campaign Evaluation/Recommendation Rubric


Global Sustainability Awareness Campaign Typed Proposal Rubric

Student Artifacts

In 'Watch Where You Step!' students identify the components of an Ecological Footprint by creating a web diagram of all the resources they use in their everyday lives [see Lesson 12 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]. The student poster below examines the "footprint" of a piece of pie.

Have you created inspiring adaptations with Facing the Future's lessons? Then contact us to be featured as a Classroom Example.


About Us

We equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future through hands-on curricula and professional learning.

Facing the Future is an
independent program of WWU