What does it take to inspiremeaningful change?
When we give our young learners the freedom to express their concerns about the world all around them, they tend to surprise us in every way. The second-grade students of GEMS DAA’s Lindsay Doughty are no different. She experienced this firsthand after being inspired by a visit from GDCF president Lee Watanabe-Crockett.
“After hearing Lee speak the first time, I was really excited to get started on a project my students were truly passionate about,” Lindsay recalls. “I was inspired by the slides he presented in which young students reported what they thought were the world’s biggest problems.”
Spurred by the possibilities of this herself, Lindsay decided to pose the exact same opportunity to her own learners. “I was interested in getting my own students’ responses to that question,” she says. “We made a class list and marked the problems that came up multiple times.” Ultimately the students all settled on the matter of world hunger.
Where do we begin to transform?
Lindsay’s next step was consulting Tracy Murch, DAA’s Head of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation. “She and I had a brainstorming session and came up with an outline for a project,” says Lindsay.
Next was a discussion with her learners about what they could do to abolish world hunger. From food boxes to fundraisers to sending seeds to plant, the students had many different notions of how to fix the problem. Then it came to them—the real answer was to share useful knowledge, which would mean being teachers themselves.
“They came up with the idea of educating people on how to grow crops that would survive in the climate they live in,” Lindsay explains. “They could pass the information along to larger groups of people so we would reach a bigger population.”
Considering hunger is an issue in many different regions of the world, the students had their work cut out for them. “We had an ocean, rainforest, desert, and arctic group that set out to gather information through nonfiction texts,” she says. “This was where things got really fun!”
How do we plot apath to success?
Lindsay’s young learners began investigating what it would take to learn how to teach others. In addition to this, they were also researching their chosen region’s climate, analyzing videos, and conducting preliminary scientific experiments.
“It was wonderful to see that students were engaging in that information and taking leadership roles around teaching and learning,” says Lindsay, which freed her up to facilitate the students’ processes. “I began to take a more supportive role rather than a leading role.”
Each student group recreated to their best abilities the correct climate for the “crops” they grew in their experiments. Language Arts, Math, and Science all came into play as the projects developed. They placed all their findings into highly creative multimedia presentations that incorporated audio, video, images, text, and their own drawings.
“It showcases their learning, starting with the parts of a plant and pollination, and then working through adaptations and the habitat they studied,” Lindsay observes.