Since Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students in Senior Kindergarten at MICDS have been working through their Changemakers Unit. In a Project-Based Learning-styled challenge, they were tasked with noticing problems in the community and then had the mission of helping solve these problems. “The goal for the unit was for the students to learn about changemakers and what they do,” said Kelly Hummel, Senior Kindergarten Homeroom Teacher. “Then they had to identify a problem in our community and come up with ways to help make a change as changemakers themselves.”
The senior kindergarteners first studied historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, and Rosa Parks, as well as more recent, well-known changemakers like Malala and Greta Thunberg. At the same time, they also learned about lesser-known kids making a change, like Moné Davis, Nicholas Lowinger, Jahkil Jackson, Mari Copeny, and Katie Stagliano. Katie Stagliano, for example, turned a science project growing cabbage into a garden and then donated the vegetables she grew to a local food bank. “We wanted our students to know that they didn’t have to be grown-ups changing a country to be a changemaker; they could be children changing their communities,” said Senior Kindergarten Homeroom Teacher Ghada Ead.
After learning about these many inspiring figures, the SK classes tied the work of these changemakers to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To make this connection even clearer, senior Kyle Sha ’23 was invited to speak to the class since he was part of the SDG Changemakers Youth Action Program. Kyle spoke about how he noticed a problem and worked to find a solution. His work in the program manifested into the electronics recycling drive that was recently held.
Through the examples of the people they studied, including Sha, SK students came up with ideas on issues they wanted to solve as well as ways to address them. Here are some of the issues and projects that students completed as they made positive changes in the community:
- Birds – One group worked on preventing window crashes by birds. Their solution was to hang pictures in the windows to help birds see the glass. They have worked very hard to draw and color pictures that they placed in the mailboxes of our faculty and staff. Seeing their work hanging in MICDS classrooms and offices put the biggest smiles on their faces.
- Littering – Another group worked on littering and passed out plastic shopping bags to all Beasley students. These bags were to be kept in the car and used as trash bags. They passed their bags and letters out during carpool and were stationed in the cafeteria to hand the bags out to students as they passed through on their way out the door.
- Homelessness – The group working to help fight homelessness organized a food drive for Sunshine Ministries. Sunshine Ministries works with men, women, and children, and they have a program specifically for men designed around breaking the cycle of homelessness. Their food pantry is critically low right now, and they asked for a few items that are of greatest need. Here is this group’s letter asking for donations. Homeroom teachers shared this letter on Seesaw.
- Pets – Another group worked on helping neglected pets. They made a video teaching people how to be responsible pet owners. Here is their video!
- Recycling – The recycling group made signs that they passed around to other grades to hang by their recycling bins. They spoke in front of the fourth grade and told them the importance of recycling.
- School Supplies – One group focused on taking care of school supplies. They made a video to ask students to make sure markers and glue don’t dry out.
- Behavior on Playground – Another group wanted to help make sure kids are being nice to one another on the playground. They made signs to ask big kids to be nice to the little kids on the playground so they don’t get hurt while playing.
“The best thing about Project-Based Learning is that although we plan what they learn about, the execution of their projects is all up to them,” said Ead. “It’s really neat to watch our SK students care deeply for something while knowing they came up with the solutions to these problems on their own.”
“I am so impressed with how thoughtful and creative our students were in coming up with solutions to their problems,” said Hummel. “They took so much pride in being changemakers and loved that they were making a difference in the community.”