BY: PAULA INTRAVAIA, DESIGN ENGINEER
Second Graders Add Value to Their Community
So they don’t feel left out.
It will help them to learn English.
Their feelings should matter to us.
They should feel equal to us.
They should feel friendship.
So they feel that we like them.
So they feel empathy.
To be treated well and the same as us.
These are the responses generated by Grade 2 students upon asking the the question, Why do you think newcomers to America or to your school need to feel valued?
From there, students experienced interviewing an older student who first attended the school a year previously knowing little English. They also participated in a lesson where they did not know the made-up language, Pig Latin.
Prior to all of this, they had taken the perspective of the Pilgrims, viewed a 360 degree video of a New York City US Citizenship ceremony, and artfully responded to an interactive art assemblage on the American experience during a PTA sponsored in-school field trip.
As the design challenged progressed, many opportunities to explore what it means to add value to a community were experienced. All of these Thinking Routines were made visible through photos, sticky notes, charts and student sketches.
The emphasis on research and empathy resulted in a student generated needs statement: Newcomers to our school need a way to feel valued because they should feel happy, too.
After ideating individually, altogether and finally in small groups, solution prototypes were designed, tested, and then presented during a community exhibition of learning. The solution prototypes ranged from website designs for newcomers with encouraging statements such as, “You can work with us anytime you want,” to hand made Welcome manuals with key school related words translated in the three languages represented by group members (Spanish, Greek, and French), to a colorful cardboard clubhouse design for newcomers to make friends.
An art installation inspired by the art assemblage visit included “bronzed” objects brought in by each student to symbolize their personal culture or interests, creating a sense of respect for unity and individuality all at once.
The community response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. In the end, everyone felt like they mattered: the students, families, teachers and the newcomers they each represent.
This post was cross-posted on Paula's blog.
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