Case Studies

Case Study: Environmental Solution Fluency

Learn from the students at GEMS Dubai American Academy what it takes to create ingenious solutions to environmental problems that really matter.

The GEMS Dubai American Academy is a vibrant international community rooted in a culture of kindness that creates and empowers leaders and independent thinkers. DAA prepares students to lead successful lives through the diversity of its community and the extra-curricular experiences that contribute to the development of the whole person.

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If there’s one thing kids care about, it’s protecting and conserving the global environment. The Grade 9 science students of Dionne Douglas at GEMS Dubai American Academy are living proof.

Learn from their success with using Solution Fluency and what it takes to create ingenious solutions to the problems that really matter—to you, to me, and to the entire world.

How to we inspire lasting and meaningful change

When we’re in need of innovative solutions to the many problems plaguing the global environment, count on our digital students to answer the call. The Environmental Solutions Fluency science projects from GEMS Dubai American Academy’s Grade 9 learners are shining examples of the ingenuity and mindfulness today’s students can show when it comes to making our world a better place.

Learners present their learning and make their pitch to their colleagues

Dionne Douglas, an educator at DAA and the facilitator of the projects, says that the idea to move forward came on the heels of a visit from Wabisabi Learning's president Lee Watanabe-Crockett. “After we met with Lee, a couple of the science teachers decided to get together to put Solution Fluency into immediate effect,” she recalls.

From there, students would take the lead in researching and designing remarkable ideas for easing the burden on our environment.

How do we begin to transform

DAA’s science students needed a springboard to begin their exciting new projects on environmental concerns. Their adventures began with considering the crucial issue of sustainable water use. Water is the lifeblood of Earth and one of our most basic and vital nutritional needs. Unfortunately, our global supply is also in grave danger—the result of industry, pollution, and waste.

Students are exercising their inherent creativity and ingenuity through applying Solution Fluency.

“Students were challenged to think about their choices and how they affected the Earth,” explains Dionne. “They worked in groups to examine the choices they make on a daily basis such as their transportation, the food that they eat, and even the clothes that they wear.”

Once they reflected on these choices, the learners’ task was to incorporate Solution Fluency into designing and delivering a solution to a chosen problem and, of course, to also debrief their journey. Dionne stresses that the students made their own choices for the issues they would tackle without any input from the teachers.

How do we plot a path to sucess

As the work progressed, Dionne noticed the solutions students were coming up with were quite varied and sophisticated, with quite a few workable solutions that they were eager to implement.

A team of GEMS students offers a unique solution to their learning challenge

“Students were able to go deeply into the question of how their everyday choices impact their ecological footprint, and this is where most traditional curriculum would have stopped,” claims Dionne.

“They were able to go further and connect these important scientific concepts to the personal choices they make on a daily basis.”

Here’s what some of the students themselves had to say:

“I learned many new ways that transportation use and carbon footprint can be reduced.”

“I learned about how much we damage our environment and the carbon footprint we have from consuming beef, poultry, and other meat-based products.”

“I learned that plastic water bottles aren’t biodegradable … they release toxins which pollute soil and water and harm us.”

How best can we measure growth and progress

All in all, Solution Fluency has brought some profound school-wide changes to the learning happening at GEMS DAA. Here are some of the most important transformations taking place for the learners, staff, and school.


Solution Fluency places learning where it belongs—directly into the hands of the learners themselves. How has working with this process brought new vitality into learners' school experiences?

  • Students find that Solution Fluency helps them discover real-world connections to what they are taught.
  • There is a shift of responsibility for learning to the students themselves.
  • Students are exercising their inherent creativity and ingenuity through applying Solution Fluency.
  • Students are at the heart of the learning process, where they should be.


With Solution Fluency, teachers have a powerful tool to give to their learners, and to make their own practice both easier and more enjoyable. Here are some of the new revelations teachers have enjoyed working with Solution Fluency.

    • Teachers have assumed the roles of facilitators and “guides on the side” as students take the lead in learning.
    • The Future Fluencies offer more opportunities for formative feedback and learning differentiation.
    • The Fluencies processes allow teachers to connect content topics to students’ personal interests and increase student engagement.

School Culture

The learning landscape at GEMS DAA has shifted dramatically since working with the Wabisabi Team. What is happening school-wide with Solution Fluency as part of the new school culture?

  • Teachers have new insights on how to relinquish control to students for their learning while still achieving curriculum objectives and demonstrable student growth.
  • There is a deeper culture of collaboration between students and teachers as well as between the teachers themselves.
  • Students are more empowered to adjust their own lifestyles to develop solutions for real-world problems that matter.


How do we ensure learning continues to improve and excel

The next steps for Dionne and the students at DAA are just as ambitious and fulfilling as their environmental solutions. “The next steps would be to create a space at the assembly for Grade 9 students to present their solutions and then to tap the enthusiasm of these students to implement their solutions,” Dionne says.

Some potential ideas the students are considering include:

  • Month Without Meat at the school cafeteria followed by Meatless Mondays every day of the year for all schools served by SLICES catering (and eventually the world)
  • Introduce a “no cell phone hour” at school
  • Create an app to monitor and reduce spending
  • Open a DAA store for reusing clothing and other items

“Another step could be to explore where else we could use this format with our students,” she says. “Where else can we release control and let the students explore and allow us more time to guide them towards deepening their learning as they work on a project?”

Case Study: Environmental Solution Fluency—GEMS DAA Digital Download Wabisabi LearningCase Study: Environmental Solution Fluency—GEMS DAA Digital Download Wabisabi Learning

Case Study: Environmental Solution Fluency—GEMS DAA
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The Environmental Solutions Fluency science projects from GEMS Dubai American Academy’s Grade 9 learners are... read more