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.
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.
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 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!”
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.”
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.
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.
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.