World in Bloom

Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School

Is one life more important than another? Is my life more valuable than yours? What sort of support do we need to thrive and grow? These were the questions facing the Year 3 students of teacher Kim Denny at Lindisfarne School.

This is the story of how her students used Solution Fluency to look beyond their own lives and take powerfully creative initiatives to show us all that across the city or the globe, we are all still family.

The Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School has 1060 students, an Early Learning Centre for Pre-school and Kindergarten, a Primary School for Years 1 to 6, and Secondary School from Years 7 to 12. They have an academic program that places a strong focus on each student’s particular strengths and individual abilities.

I applied to be a “champion of change” within my school environment, and was selected along with 19 others. I then attended a professional development workshop which Lee Watanabe-Crockett led and I was hooked—it was so creative and different.

Kim Denny

Lindisfarne AGS

I have tried to develop a program that has emotional impact to engage students and enable them to compare their lives with the lives of another child—it’s a fantastic starting point where thoughts and feelings can be shared.

Kim Denny

Lindisfarne AGS

Students are thinking more for themselves and they are assuming responsibility for their futures. Lessons are so engaging and related to real life learning, where they get to see the consequences of  the actions they make.

Kim Denny

Lindisfarne AGS

What does it take to inspire

meaningful change?

Learning is personal, and for meaningful and authentic learning to take place, there has to be an emotional connection; it has to have relevance to the learner. This idea was foremost on the mind of Kim Denny, a teacher at Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, as she considered what kind of solutions-based project would really reach her young Year 3 learners.

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“I have tried to develop a program that has emotional impact, to engage students and enable them to compare their lives with the lives of another child,” says Kim. Her goal was to incorporate the 6Ds of Solution Fluency to take her kids on a journey of exploring the true value of human life by looking through someone else’s eyes, and to become inspired to help those less fortunate by giving them opportunities to better their lives.

Where do we

begin to transform?

Kim’s students began by exploring waste disposal and how we can begin to use our environment more sustainably. “Students researched areas in the world where rubbish is dumped,” Kim recalls. “They discovered that 15 million people in the developing world  survive by salvaging rubbish.”

The Year 3 learners began to realize how much they take a life of choices and comforts for granted. Now the burning quest for them was about making a difference. The Dream phase of Solution Fluency came into play as they began expressing their feelings about struggles in the developing world through collaborative artwork.

“Students took ownership using this Fluency to create a list of themes they believed are important for young minds to flourish,” Kim explains. Wisdom, compassion, relationships, and communication were among the many ideas they shared.

Next, they channelled these concepts into imaginative works of creativity with the help of an artist/parent who demonstrated watercolour techniques. As satisfying as this project was, the best was yet to come for the students on this ambitious learning journey.

How do we plot a

path to success?

After presenting their artwork and an accompanying photo book to Lindisfarne principal Stuart Marquardt, the Year 3s were still dreaming big. “As Solution Fluency progressed during our discussions, students decided we need to help and empower people who do not have the means or money to make an income,” Kim says.

Their idea was to raise funds with their own farm shop by selling produce from both their shared garden and from the generous donations of the wider community. Rather fittingly, they called their shop “World Bloom.”

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With the money they raised from World Bloom students opened a KIVA account for lending funds to young entrepreneurs in third world countries. The students took the lead in every capacity of the process, from researching packaging and pricing to designing the logo and advertising, and much more.

Kim was more than pleased with how her learners rose to the challenge. “The learning is completely transformed,” she marvels. “Some students have surprised me with their creativity and problem-solving.”

How do we measure

growth and progress?

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  • Students are thinking more for themselves and assuming responsibility.
  • Lessons are engaging and related to real life learning where they get to see the consequences of their actions.
  • Students are developing a sense of agency and ownership for learning using Solution Fluency.
  • They are working on projects that solve challenging problems that are relevant to their interests.
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  • Letting students take the lead has shown that it is possible to learn when they are doing entirely different things.
  • Teachers have assumed the roles of facilitators and “guides on the side” as students take the lead in learning.
  • The Fluencies processes allow teachers to connect content topics to their students’ personal interests and increase student engagement.
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  • Embracing the Fluencies is gradually fostering a more creative and dynamic school culture.
  • There is a deeper sense of collaboration between students and teachers as well as between the teachers themselves.
  • Integrity and curiosity are developing for everyone in unexpected ways.
  • Educators are being inspired to both learn and instruct in many different ways to connect to learners.

How do we continue to

improve and excel?

In the end, Kim and her Year 3 students could reflect with pride on what they were able to achieve together. Through their efforts they created valuable opportunities to help the vulnerable and socially marginalized populations in the world to borrow the money for starting up their own businesses.

“Being able to giving back to the global community is awesome but it also allowed a greater understanding to appreciate the quality of life we take for granted,” Kim says.

So what’s next for Kim and her learners at Lindisfarne? “More Fluencies, and cross-curricular so that each subject can exist inside another instead of separate topics,”  she claims. “Interweaving literacy and numeracy along with art, for example.”