Case Studies

Case Study: Plant Experts

The students of GEMS DAA’s Lindsay Doughty care about the planet and who they share it with. This is how they used Solution Fluency to tackle world hunger.

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, and strive to prepare today’s children for their place in tomorrow’s society.

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Our young learners care about the planet they live on and all the unique people with whom they share it. The second-grade students of GEMS DAA’s Lindsay Doughty are no different.

Here is the story of how her students used Solution Fluency to tackle the issue of world hunger—and learned about leadership, compassion, and feeding the world one seed at a time. 

How to we inspire lasting and meaningful 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 Wabisabi Learning president Lee Watanabe-Crockett.

“After hearing Lee speak the first time, I was excited to get started on a project my students would be truly passionate about,” Lindsay recalls. “I was inspired by the slides he presented in which young students shared their thoughts on what they believed to be the world’s biggest problems.”

Spurred by the possibilities of this herself, Lindsay decided to pose the same opportunity to her 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.

How 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. 

gems students controlled experiment

GEMS students proudly observe and record the progress of their growing seedlings

“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 fun!”

How do we plot a path to sucess

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.”

gems plant experts lineup

The GEMS plant experts showing their stuff

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 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.

How best can we measure growth and progress

Although Lindsay knew this would be a more engaging way of learning (and teaching), she had no idea the results would be this great. Let's take a look at what has transformed across Lindsay's classrooms and the whole school since she began using the Fluencies.


Lindsay reports that here students were so engaged in their projects, and parents kept telling here how excited their children were. What else happened to enhance their learning experiences?

  • Students are becoming better collaborators because they get regular practise working in groups.
  • They have taken a lot more control of their learning and are finding answers on their own.
  • In directing their learning, students are going further and at times in entirely new and unforeseen directions.


    According to Lindsay, she has implemented Solution Fluency on the first project she did, which was almost wholly student-led. The process has been relatively simple and incredibly fun and has come with some other benefits as well.

    • Teachers are taking to the Fluencies concepts quickly because they are adaptable to many different topics and scenarios.
    • When students are more engaged, teachers spend less time redirecting them as they are all motivated to stay on task.
    • As students take control and their interests drive the lessons, everyone is happier.

    School Culture

    GEMS Dubai AA are no strangers to using the Fluencies. The results of their implementation continue to drive learning and teaching to greater and greater heights.

    • The Fluencies provide a framework for teachers to facilitate student learning, allowing the students themselves to take the lead.
    • Using the Fluencies supports the guiding philosophy of DAA, which is a “Culture of Kindness.”
    • There is a considerable reduction in behaviour issues when teaching and learning happen with the Fluencies.
    • Students are getting a chance to learn in the way that’s best for their needs.

      How do we ensure learning continues to improve and excel

      So would Lindsay and her learners do it all over again with the Fluencies? They’ve already begun. “To be honest, this was my first Fluency project, so it was a whirlwind of activity,” Lindsay confesses. “We have started another project already, and it is in the planning stages.”

      After her first foray into using the Fluencies, she was thrilled with what her learners accomplished. “This project allowed them to explore the details of other communities, and in turn, appreciate what they currently have.”

      What’s next for Lindsay and her amazing second graders? “We will be analyzing types of pollution around the world and devising a plan for a solution,” Lindsay claims. “I will be working on some more of the Shifts of Practice to develop myself professionally, with the support of my grade team and school leadership.”

      Case Study: Plant Experts—GEMS DAA Digital Download Wabisabi LearningCase Study: Plant Experts—GEMS DAA Digital Download Wabisabi Learning

      Case Study: Plant Experts—GEMS DAA
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