I am amazed at the work that Windward students were able to create addressing the challenge to improve water usage, quality, or access in their community. On May 17, they presented their solutions to other students, faculty, staff, community members, organizations and parents. Teams were evaluated based on a student-created rubric taking into account group dynamics, research process, presentation formatting, and community appeal. See photos of the forum here.
Student solutions ranged from beach cleanups, to ways to purify tainted water using UV light, to the effects that commercial water privatization can have on communities. A great article about privatization of city water, written by three seventh graders, was published in the Venice Patch. You can see the whole range of student work on the Windward Water Challenge website: www.tinyurl.com/windwardwaterchallenge
The framework we used was Challenge Based Learning, an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages young people to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. I worked with an amazing team of 7th Grade Life Science teachers at Windward School to help develop the framework, assessments and experiential learning opportunities for the 2013 Water Challenge, modeled after the Food Challenge we piloted in 2012.
I created the Google Site to house student work, which served as both an organizational tool to track project development and a showcase site for the project, produced a challenge video, and facilitated planning meetings with educators and administrators. With careful planning, hard work, and tons of flexibility, the teaching team (Geraldine Loveless, Shelley Riedel & Ernie Levroney, along with support from staff at the Center for Teaching & Learning) were well-prepared to guide students in this incredible hands-on project that stretched the limits of the Life Science classroom into the realm of community outreach, service learning, and experiential learning.
I am so impressed with the creative solutions that students came up with in response to the challenge, and honored to have had the opportunity to work with an inspiring team of educators committed to expanding the boundaries of the classroom to address real-world problems. Geraldine and I have been able to share CBL best practices at several conferences, igniting educators’ imaginations about what is possible when you trust students with the curriculum. Helping schools develop Challenge Based Learning programs is one of the many ways that I invest in helping young people embody their role as change-makers and environmental leaders, not just of tomorrow, but of today.
Photo credit: James Lubin, Director of Public Relations, Windward School