Making Change, Making Friends

Dr. Tanya Roth’s seventh-grade history class wrapped up their Power and Equality unit by looking at the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and how the UN is working to address a number of major issues in the world. They also investigated activists trying to address these issues. Students put their research into action by constructing websites to share what they learned.

Then, they expanded their understanding by visiting other students. “When we heard about the Changemakers project in Senior Kindergarten, it sounded like a great opportunity for the seventh graders to get to see how the SK students are learning about people who make a difference in the world,” said Roth. After starting to build their websites that cover their global issues, they walked over to Beasley to spend time with their younger classmates.

The Senior Kindergarteners were also studying activists and philanthropists who are making or have made a change in the world, so the timing was perfect. Our younger learners were introduced to historical figures like Rosa Parks and Louis Braille as well as current changemakers like Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg. “Other changemakers like Sidney Keys III, Jaylen Arnold, and Abigail Lupi are not as well known, but teach our students that anyone can see a problem and work to fix it,” said Kelly Hummel, Senior Kindergarten Teacher. “You don’t have to be an adult to make a difference.”

At the end of the unit, SK students were asked, “How can we teach others what we have learned about changemakers?” Students then worked in small groups or pairs to come up with a way to share what they know about a changemaker with others. The Beasley students were excited to present their changemakers to their new seventh-grade friends. The students rotated from group to group to interact with the SK students, asking them questions about their changemakers, and listening to their presentations. “The SK students were excited to have a teaching role to our seventh-grade friends,” said Ghada Ead, Senior Kindergarten Teacher.

After the first visit, Sadie Small ’27 said, “I really enjoyed hanging out with the kindergarteners. They were so smart and nice. I can’t wait to go back and learn more from them later today!”

“It was so fun visiting the SK, and it was so exciting to revisit Beasley,” said May Durrill ’27. “I really enjoyed getting different perspectives about amazing people in the world today. It’s so fascinating that they get to learn about all of these important people that are changing the world. Some of the SK students were studying people from the ages of 12 to 14, and I think it was great for them to also get to see people around that age coming to visit them. I think it’s an experience that SK will remember throughout their future presentations.”

Kathleen Hammer ’27 said, “I had so much fun spending time with SK on Tuesday! It was so cool having them present to us their projects and learning about them. I am very excited to do it again! Thank you!”

In Ms. Hummel’s room, the seventh graders heard finished presentations from five different groups. Roth said, “They were amazed at the information the students provided and the creative ways they showed their knowledge. It was an inspiring field trip that got them excited about learning something new.”

“I thought it was really fun to sit down and really talk with kids that were five to six years younger than me,” said Maitland Michaelson ’27. “It amazes me how much they knew and how in-depth six-year-olds could go into history.”

Elinor Verdine ’27 enjoyed her time with her younger classmates, too. She said, “I thought Tuesday’s experience was pretty fun. We got to learn about what the children were doing for their projects, how their person helped the world, and I appreciated the effort they put into their projects.”

Hummel reports that her students enjoyed the interaction as much as their older schoolmates. She said, “Hosting and presenting to the seventh-grade students was a unique opportunity for Senior Kindergarten and something we have never done before. The SK students had all sorts of feelings going into this project, ranging from nervous to excited. However, after the presentations, all the SK students agreed that they had fun. One student even said, ‘I didn’t want it to end! I like presenting!'”

What a wonderful collaboration between students and inspiration for change!