What does it take to inspire
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.
“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.”
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?
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.”