Is the idea of primary students solving world hunger hard to believe? Not according to Lindsay Doughty, a primary school teacher at GEMS Dubai American Academy. She became inspired recently by a story we shared about students reporting what they considered the world’s biggest problems.
At Melrose High School in Canberra, we asked Year 4 and 5 learners a serious question. We said to them,“What do you think is the most urgent problem in the world?” The answers we expected to hear were ones of a mostly superficial nature. However, they threw us completely for a loop as kids often do. They mentioned everything from domestic violence to animal cruelty to the systematic destruction of our planet’s environment. Needless to say, our children care deeply about what’s happening in the world.
If you ask Lindsay, she’ll tell you the same thing. Because of this she decided to pose the exact same inquiry to her own learners. “I was interested in getting my own students’ responses to that question,” she says. So they made up a list and recorded the issues that were repeated most often. Ultimately the students all settled on the matter of world hunger.
Defining the Problem
Once they settled on a problem, a discussion with her learners came next. What would the idea of her students solving world hunger look like in action? They suggested things like food boxes, fundraisers, and sending seeds to plant. After a while they concluded the real answer was to share useful knowledge, which meant becoming 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!”
Sowing Seeds of Progress
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.
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.
Higher Purpose Leads to Deeper Learning
This being her first time using the Essential Fluencies, Lindsay was thrilled with what her learners accomplished. The evidence of students solving world hunger at this age was a defining moment. In short, it was a testimony to their ability to connect to learning using a real-world backdrop. “This project allowed them to explore the details of other communities, and to appreciate what they currently have.”
“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.”
Let’s Create Your Success Story
This inspiring tale of students solving world hunger is available as a full case study on our Success Stories page. Read more about how Lindsay and her learners are using the Essential Fluencies in their classroom. In addition, you can view other stories about the schools that are using them to transform classroom learning.
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