My GT classes and our after-school Maker Club are participating in this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge. Select projects will be chosen to bring to a local party/entertainment center, Main Event. We will be inviting the community to play the games for a $1, as well as selling wristbands to access the other fun activities at the facility. All of the money we raise will be going to a charity that the students choose.
But, how can I get several classes of students – in addition to the 24 students in the Maker Club – to decide on which charity will receive our donation? I decided to use an idea from Angela Maiers, who is internationally renowned for her motivational speeches about how we should Choose to Matter. One of my favorite quotes from her is, “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.”
In a blog post last year, Angela described the process for:
- helping students to determine what matters the most to them
- determining what “breaks their hearts” about their passions
- thinking of possible solutions to those problems.
So far, I’ve walked two of my classes through the first two phases. It has been very enlightening. Similar to the activity that Angela describes from teacher Karen MacMillan, I had students mind-map their passions in the middle of a piece of paper. Then they drew branches from each of those that identified what breaks their hearts regarding those topics.
As an example, I told them that teaching and learning are both passions for me. What breaks my heart is that there are still children, particularly girls, who are denied the right to an education.
One boy had brainstormed every single sport he could think of as a passion. When asked what broke his heart about them, he replied, “When I lose a game.” I had to question him a bit more to get a deeper, less self-centered answer – “when people get injured.”
After we shared the things that break their hearts, we looked for trends or patterns. Sports-related injuries was a big one with my 3rd graders, as well as cruelty to animals and pollution. The latter two were also common themes with my 4th graders. Today, I will get feedback from 5th grade. Armed with the information from three grade levels, we can then try to find a charity that many of them will find meaningful.
We will also be holding on to these papers to use as jumping-off points for this year’s Genius Hour projects.
I really loved this process for so many reasons. It tells me about what is important to my students and gives them a voice. It shows them that they have responsibilities to be contributors as well as consumers. And, it helps them to understand themselves a little better.
I’ll keep you posted as we continue on this journey 🙂