Here's to the 2016 Kiva Kid Borrowers

The boys have been busy putting together business plans, filling out borrower applications, and discovering a lot about what it takes to put it all together to become proud business owners. With the help of parents and faculty members, some of our teams are well on their way to being funded in the hopes of opening up shop in the early days of February.


Check out our Kiva Kids Page


I asked the boys to reflect on how it feels to be a borrower and here are some responses:

  • As a borrower, I feel pretty good because our group has been loaned to multiple times. I also feel a bit satisfied, knowing that our group is closer to being fully funded. Being a borrower is exciting because you don't know if you are going to be fully funded, and if you aren't, then you can't start your business. I really hope people will loan to us so we can get started on selling our mesh squishy balls to the students.
  • I feel that as a borrower it is really exciting checking your loaners and how much you have because every time you are that much closer to getting your loan. The one thing that I feel is hard about being a borrower is not being able to use your loan until it fully is funded. For example I found a better deal on our product but unfortunately I couldn't get it because our loan wasn't fully funded yet. But still I can see how we shouldn't be able to because people who get loans through Kiva can't use the money until they get fully funded. The reason they are on Kiva is also because they don't have the money to buy the thing they want.
  • I am so far enjoying the experience because it feels different than being the lender. Our group has been very successful so far, and we hope to stay on track so we get our loan of $60 as soon as possible. To be a borrower, you must have patience because you have to wait for lenders to loan to you, and sometimes that takes a while. 
  • I feel good because we are getting multiple loans and I think we might be a successful business. It may take a while to achieve our full loan, but I am excited. I feel like we are relying on these kind lenders and that paying them back is our priority, but we need to think of how to make good profit while paying back our lenders, and not making mistakes to bring us down. 
  • It is kind of nerve racking thinking of what can go wrong as a borrower. I also think that the process of paying back the loan is scary because you don't know that the business is going to make enough money to pay back the loans.


It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Micro-Lending

Every year I wonder, will I launch the question, "How can we model microlending in our own community?" and get a different result?  Every year I wonder, if I get the same result for modeling this question, is it truly PBL? And every year I realize, what seems like the obvious answer to me (the process of which 4 classes have chosen before them), what seems like the answer the students will just "know" because they have been part of the community and project from the outside, is really far from their minds. 

Over the past few days I have set the ground work for launching the second component to our year long micro lending investigation.  Students now understand what is and what micro lending is.  They also have some baseline statistics about poverty and the world population.  So we spent a few days discussing financial literacy, the concept of banking and who may or may not have access to banks around the globe.   

Today, we started our day with a quick brainstorm of "who" might make a good fit for the different components of the micro lending process from within our community. I let the boys know that while they had a lot of choice, that I would in fact have to place some rules into the modeling process along the way.  I then put the boys into 4 groups, and gave each of them a role to brainstorm (Lender, Borrower, Kiva Platform and Field Partner).  I was impressed with their brainstorm.  Financial Literacy EVERYWHERE?  Great!

In the end, after much deliberation and looking at the roles in different ways, thinking about the roles critically and creatively, the boys decided on a modeling process quite like the years before them.  And while on one end I want to question if this is ok, on the other end I have to accept the reality which was that while I may have known that was a great way to model it from the beginning, a whole lot of reflection and discussion went into these budding entrepreneurs coming up with it.  Join the Town School class of 2019 on their journey!  Stay tuned...


Little Changes in the Hope of Making A Big Difference

The 6th graders have been busy working on their Kiva Advertisement project.  While I haven't had an opportunity to post, it's not because we haven't been working.  As in years past, I introduced the project with the driving question, How can we create advertisements that encourage new and existing kiva lenders to make a loan in _(blank)__ geographic area? In addition to that driving question, and inspired alongside my own grad school work on research, I decided to concentrate on the following questions:

How can we be better consumers of statistical representations?

How can we be better creators of statistical representations?

My goal for the Kiva project this year, on top of getting my students to empower many lives across the globe, is take a look at the rubrics, grading process, research components and intentionality of everything we do.  The first stop on this "Year of Change" was to recruit the help of the library team in the hopes that we could create some common language, reinforce protocols for using sources, and discuss citations. We got this and a whole lot more.

Ms Stuart visited our classroom after the launch and provided examples of advertisements that were much more similar to what we were looking for then the examples I had been able to provide in the past.  While I had never heard of Ad Council, I certainly had a good time reminiscing about some of their famous commercials, "This is drugs, this is your brain on drugs, any questions?".  To learn more about Ad Council you can watch this quick video .  Ad Council fits right into what we are trying to accomplish in our project and I am so glad Ms. Stuart introduced us.

The boys were not only engaged in the examples provided but they were also very knowledgeable abut appropriate sources, creative commons and the libraries resources.  So, I pushed them on their way to discover a little bit about Kiva and the countries they decided to focus on.  At this point, they have all had short interviews with me where they presented the statistics they are going to use to convince others and are about to begin creating.  Commercials, Infographic Posters, Brochures and more... all coming your way soon from the GARAGE! Stay tuned, we are just getting started!

Reviewing Math with a Little Help from Our Friends

In February I was introduced to a new partner in Monterrey, Mexico.  Parul, a 7th grade math teacher, was excited to embark on a global adventure and we spoke about incorporating global word problems into her curriculum.  Having already created word problems on my end, I made sure to step back and listen to what Parul felt she needed to have her students get out of the project and I paid particular attention to the dynamics of the class and school as Parul described it.  Knowing that her school was just beginning to embark on global adventures I knew that this project could be important in gaining momentum and energy for the future of our partnership and certainly I didn't want to overwhelm Parul or have her students engage in meaningless work.

Parul's energy was wonderful. From the first skype call I had with her I felt like we were collaborating and truly listening to one another.  In the past, I have simply created word problems about San Francisco and exchanged the problems with other schools. We have completed them, taken pictures of each other doing  the work and left it there.  It was important to Parul that we engage with each other by sharing the word problems but also to take it step further in having our students meet via Skype.  

During that first call, Parul decided that the exchange would consist of 3 parts.  

1)  A mystery skype call where the students would ask questions of each other in the hopes of zeroing in on the school's location.

2) The completion of word problems with posters created that share an "I notice, I wonder and I connect to".

3) A follow up Skype call where we each chose 3-4 problems to debrief by sharing the way in which we completed the mathematics in the problem and explaining our poster and the notice, wonder and connect.  At the end of this call, time permitting, we would allow for further questions.

Parul and I had different age students and different size classes, which meant that it wasn't a one size fits all approach to the skype call.  My boys being younger needed more scaffolding and organization as they weren't able to be as off the cuff in certain regards and some were very shy.  Parul had more kids in her class then I believe found it challenging to get them all involved throughout the call.  In the end we realized that being flexible, honest in our communication, and understanding of the needs of one another and our students would result in an initial project partnership project that might build a good foundation for the future-at least I think so:) 

Thanks Parul and American School Foundation of Monterrey for working with us, I only wish we had more time.:) 

What a finish!

What a YEAR!


When it was all said and done and the boys said goodbye to 6th grade, I sure hope they felt good about what they accomplished in math class.  Not only did they learn real practical skills that can be applied to life (collaboration, problem solving, perseverance and inquiry to name a few), the in's and outs of small businesses ownership, social entrepreneurship, and financial literacy but they also learned about the financial status and lifestyles of others across the globe through math lessons.  The were empowered by the faculty and staff of Town to help alleviate poverty through lending and from what I saw, they felt good doing so.  


During the last two weeks of school the, the Town School borrowers collaborated, pooled their money and energy and went for a final push to clear out all existing product and create a joint product that students would talk about.  Through inquiry, problem solving, price point checking and coupon searching, the boys came up with Town Tiger Sunglasses that were certainly a hit! With each group contributing $30 to the product, they not only saw their contribution double in a few days, but they felt the excitement of being able to empower more borrowers through intentional giving.  

And while the boys finished school a week ago, and likely the excitement for lending has been replaced with the energy and thrill of  vacation, I am proud to announce the final numbers on the lending team of 2014-2015.

$1010.17 in profits/loans to Kiva.

$41.95 in donations to Kiva  

In addition to the 36 loans they were able to complete before summer, they have 4 more loans waiting for the Kiva Council to lend in September and the extra $10.17 was added to the donation.  Well done.  Rest well this summer boys, knowing you made a difference. 


Stay tuned for next year...

Annual Reports 2015 - Celebrating Another Great Year

It's been a busy week or so in 6th grade math as the boys prepared to present their Annual Reports to peers, parents and Kiva Executives.  The boys did a great job presenting their materials, allowing the crowd to vote on a loan, and sharing their stories.  Take a moment to check out their presentations.  Consider showing your support by joining the Town School Friends and Family lending page.  

You will see their presentations hyperlinked to the company name on slide #6 here.

Excited to have another $925 in the Town School for Boys lending team to share with entrepreneurs and others around the world.  Well done Class of 2017!

Changing Perspective with the Change Series #livingonone

With the goal in mind to teach graphing AND taking a closer look at how global poverty effects people in many ways, we decided to watch Living on One's Change series and incorporate the creation of and identification of appropriate graphs into the unit.  It was interesting to listen to the boys reflect on the variety of ways that living in a state of extreme poverty can effect your life.  The boys were thoughtful in their statements and really began to connect with the film series.  Feel free to read about the 2 weeks leading up to this to understand the context.  

***The lesson plan we created to compliment the series can be found here***  

While I recall both the emotional and intellectual conversations that went into the daily routines, it has been a few weeks since we completed this project and I thought it be best to share statement from the boys.  I apologize, we have been busy:) Here are a few direct statements.  

Natural Disaster Responses:

"I think that it's sad that what people worked for is all gone at a snap of a finger"-Brandon

"I think that it is sad that if your just surviving without any disasters and then when one happens you have almost nothing and there is very little money that you have to rebuild your life"-Josh

"I wonder how they survived after the hurricane and how they were able to afford their food. I also wonder how long it took them to get back to how they used to live".-GJ

"It seems very hard to live like that because all that you work for to get enough money to LIVE, is all gone when this disastrous problem appears, and I noticed how the man said after the hurricane two years before now, all the crops, all the corn, everything was destroyed, and the only thing he could do was work even harder to live his life like he used to" -Roger

Employment Responses: 

"I thought it was sad that almost no one in Pena Blanca actually had some kind of steady job, and that most people were farmers or laborers. I think that Guatemala has to take these concerns seriously and needs to seriously invest in new infrastructure. And like John said, giving them money is not going to solve the problem. These people actually need some source of income, not a handout that will last them a year or so. Guatemala must also find new ways to create jobs so people like Victor have an opportunity to have a better life." -Cassius

I think that the government in some some countries should try to make more job opportunities that are formal. It was crazy that in Peña Blanca, there were only a few people with formal jobs. And the people that DID have formal jobs were so excited about having a job like sweeping the floor in hotels and cleaning toilets. -Ben

"When you can't make money then your kids can't go to school and then they can't get a good job so the circle continues."-Charlie

"There was a connection that was with the farmers having to deal with living on $1 a day or even less sometimes. I connect to other people in the world have the same issue and it made me think that if one plant goes bad your paycheck goes down." - Spencer


This glimpse of commentary above is just that, a glimpse. The boys spent hours talking about what they learned from the screening of the film Living On One and the gathering of data. They found connections between geographic areas and statistics and challenged me through perspectives I hadn't considered.  Example: "Why are all the poverty stricken countries in the southern hemisphere?"  These boys and enabled me to see both the statistics and their own critical thinking skills in ways I hadn't before.  

Engage in this experience.  Bring real world MATH into your classroom. I promise you it will give you a change series of your own.  #livingonone

Don't Stop! Won't Stop!

The 5th graders have been working on a unit of global poverty for approximately 2 1/2 weeks. Broken up by break, I was worried about the boys losing interest and/or having a hard time bringing them back and getting them involved.  However, this was not the case.   A lot has come to the surface over the last few weeks as we have broken down into some interesting conversations.  We talked about global poverty and it's implications on other issues such as education and healthcare. And while I have found it hard to find the time to write about the project, I was inspired by one of my 5th graders words today and felt compelled to share:  

"Don't stop doing this project until the developing world is fully developed." He went on to share that he was having fun making graphs about real life data and sharing that data with others.  He then said, "it makes people sympathize".  Sympathize? I asked.  "Well, I hope it makes them have empathy but that may be hard for some people".  I got it!  But we certainly won't stop trying.

Interested in using real life data and math to teach your students about the world?

This unit works on data collection and organization and focusses on Stem and Leaf Plots, Bar Graphs, Line Graphs, Circle Graphs, Mean, Median, Mode, and Range. 

This is how things went down here in the garage with the whole class of 5th graders and Ms Gomez-Lobo by my side...

Week One Highlights

Boys began the project by investigating the country of which their shirt was made using   The boys were fascinated as they began to discover that most of of the pieces of clothing we wear come from countries where the people make significant less money than we do.  This led to conversations about child labor, sweatshops, and import regulations and morals.  5th graders quickly escalated the conversation as they wondered...

  • How can we support these countries by ensuring the people are paid more for their work?
  • If they need the money, if we stop purchasing won't some people lose their jobs?
  • If the US has unemployment, how come we can't create more US based companies in this job sector?
  • While this benefits both of us, low cost to us, employment for them, is it morally wrong?

The boys also participated in Global Mall and Take A Step for Equity from  These activities were taken from their book Engaging Students Through Global Issues.  While Take A Step for Equity is an activity where they are randomly placed into an economic status and I read them what life is like, the Global Mall activity challenges the boys to make some hard decisions with their money.  

The boys had many thoughts after these activities.  Trends included:  

  • I wonder why so many people know their is a poverty problem and yet don’t act?
  • I wonder how we can get people to act?
  • I wonder what organizations are best to give our money or time to?
  • I believe that education is key to moving up in the world.  (The boys were quite obsessed with education equating to a college degree, we had to take some time to step back, look at literacy and access to education across the globe)

Initially the boys started feeling guilty for what they have, but we tried hard to get them to appreciate what they have and be conscious and acknowledge the lives of others.  In the coming days the plan is to turn that into empowerment to act! The boys are beginning to see the world from another perspective.  


Week Two Highlights

Not sure if the boys would be engaged after a week's vacation, we dove right into week two by working through some real life data world problems.   After processing these problems mathematically and contextually, we reviewed the concepts of mean, median, mode, range and stem and leaf plots in anticipation of our end of the week activity. Some student responses about the activity were:  

  • I feel like not enough is being done to help. Some people are trying to help but some people that could make a bigger difference don't usually because they have "better things to do".
  • Not everything in life is to win an election. politicians are supposed to make the world better.
  • i want to see how we can help there be EASIER ACCESSED CLEAN WATER!
  • I want to investigate how many deaths I could prevent.
  • i wonder why people in this world try to ignore that people are dying every 3.6 seconds, and most people don't do anything to help. I want to investigate whats actually wrong with these countries and what is the biggest problem in each poor country.

So many ideas, so much passion... so little time.  

We finished week two by having the boys by reviewing mean, median, mode and range and creating stem and leaf plots for "Access to Internet per 100 People" all over the world and introducing them to the concept of scatter plots using . We assigned the boys one of four geographic regions, Asia, Africa, Europe or South/Central America. They were to choose 20 countries in that region and share place them in a stem and leaf plot.  

After we hung all of the poster, we did a gallery walk and asked the boys to interpret their data and talk about it.

  • I can't believe that in Africa nearly half of our countries have less than 10%.
  • Asia has data that ranges from the single digits to the 80's, I guess that means that their is a wide range of income on that continent.
  • I thought that South/Central America would have more access. I guess I was only thinking about areas I am familiar with.  Or maybe I just don't know. 
  • I am not surprised that Africa has our lowest number and that Europe has our highest, I just wonder why we can't do anything about it.  
  • I am starting to wonder why the poorest countries in the world all exist in the southern hemisphere. 

The boys really started to connect that access can really speak to a variety of different issues as it pertains to poverty.  Access to internet can equate to both individual wealth and a countries wealth-do they have the structures in place to provide it all? At a rate that is accessible?  It also equates to the possible access to education. We spoke to how much we learn on a consistent bases using the internet through both sources and people.  

The boys are excited to embark on their next adventure next week. We will be watching Living on One's Education "Change Series" and making relevant graphs.  

Can't Stop, Won't Stop!  Too much good learning and thinking is happening in the garage!


For full lesson plans for this unit visit our google document.  



Educating About Kiva = Change Makers?

The 6th grade boys have been actively educating our K-8 community about  Visiting classrooms, creating developmentally appropriate presentations and asking and answering tough questions truly allows me to see the knowledge and skills they have attained through this project thus far and the empathy they are feeling for others across the world.  

The boys have presented to many grade levels and grandparents/special friends over the course of the last few weeks.  They have gotten good at feeding their peers questions in order to round out the presentations, speak firmly about their thoughts and answer tough questions about the importance of micro finance, the issues with global poverty, what's been their favorite part about working with Kiva and my fave from a 2nd grader...

So would you consider yourselves change makers?
— Town School 2nd Grader

In addition to a clear introduction and a Q and A session many of the groups presented the boys with a multimedia component.  Take a moment to enjoy.  More on they way!

Kindergarten-Second Grade

Kiva as Superhero's - Poverty the Villain

Third-Fourth Grade

About Kiva

Upper School and Greater Community

Save a Life (New Version Coming Soon)

What is Kiva?

Global Wor(l)d Problems with a Mystery Skype Twist

While over the years we have been successful in finding partners to share our math story problems with, I was always nervous that the project wasn't allowing me to discover as many collaborators.  My fear was that while I was giving someone a project to do, I wasn't meeting another teacher half way and collaborating on how to make it a meaningful project for each side. 

Excited about the responses I got on Edmodo and Twitter this year for the project (Although these don't always work out), I had the boys begin the creation of the 2014-2015 wor(l)d problems before being in touch with Parul from the American School Foundation of Monterrey.  Parul and I were introduced by Jennifer Klein of World Leadership School and within days of our introduction we skyped.  

Parul was excited to collaborate on the project with her 7th graders as she felt that their was a true need for her students to practice more word problems.   However, she really wanted to make sure that they students got more out of it then just problem solving.  She felt strongly that we needed deeper engagement and we began to brainstorm.  Parul suggested a skype call to start the conversation and immediately I agreed with a "yes and... can we do a mystery skype to get the students excited about doing word problems about the other location?".  In full agreement we set forth a schedule for the coming weeks/month. 

While the mystery skype call had to be put off due to service days and vacations, we successfully scheduled two mystery skype calls, with two of our classes, for last Friday.  Funny enough, we had planned to have all my boys do this during snack break but we hadn't considered day light savings time and the fact that San Francisco does spring forward, but that Monterrey does not.  We were able to successfully figure out a solution-thank goodness!  Flexibility continues to be a major component to the success of my global partnerships. 

In true Goggin fashion I wanted to organize the boys for questions and answers, but Parul suggested we keep it a little more "loose" and allow the students to engage in a way that works for them.  While it went against my instincts I accepted this idea, gave the boys a few specific roles (journalist, mappers etc...) for the call and monitored from within.  

The students from Mexico were able to figure out that we were from San Francisco during both calls, but my students struggled to locate the exact city in one of the sections.  This is not surprising, they are likely less familiar with Mexico's cities and towns then the students from Mexico are about California cities. 

The students are currently working on completing each other's word problems (Mexico and San Francisco) and the hope is that during this process the students come up with questions for their new friends.  We hope to Skype in late April/May and discover more about one another's schools, cultures and cities.  I am so glad that we collaborated on this project together as I am quite certain that working together and bringing together different ideas and perspectives will give this project more value to all. 



Come join us. Bring your ideas.  Engage your students.  And Practice Math. 


Chinese New Year... Celebrations and Learning!

In honor of Chinese New Year, the 5th graders spent a few days completing pattern and multiples questions using this resource from Yummy Math.   Before doing so however, we worked through a couple of word problems from our 2013 partner school in Shanghai, and engaged in deeper conversation and "wondering" about China after using   It was interesting to listen to their thoughts.  

  • I wonder why people in China die 4 years earlier than us
  • I wonder if their are still government restrictions on babies because they have 9.3% fewer babies than us.  
  • I wonder why they are 2 times more likely to die in infancy, is it because of healthcare? 
  • Is the reason they spend less on healthcare because it is less costly or their is less access? 
  • They use 87% less oil but they have high pollution. Why?
  • I can't imagine more of a class divide then we have here.  

Following the conversation about China we began the conversation about not making assumptions about other places or people in the world, in preparation for our upcoming Mystery Skype call and possible worldly connections using our Wor(l)d problems.  The boys were asked two questions:

If San Francisco was trapped in a bubble and it was the only place we knew, what might we assume about the world as a whole?  

Given the fact you recently travelled to Marin Headlands (less than 10 miles away), if Marin Headlands was trapped in a bubble and it was the only place we knew, what might we assume about the world as a whole? 

These questions allowed the boys to begin to understand the differences and similarities between two locations so close together. We excited to interact with our new friends all over the globe!  

More Loans...

While the boys are awfully nervous about giving up their capital, the 6A class successfully made 3 loans to day in class.  While the bank accounts are low, the boys have product to sell and are confident they will be able to make repayments this month. We welcome these new friends into OUR community!

Emma is from the Philippines.  We feel connected to this country because we know people from there.  Emma is married with 8 children, and she needs money to care for them. The impact of this loan will go far beyond Emma herself.  Emma has had 13 prior loans and we feel confident we will get our money back. -Sports Ball Inc

Imelda is part of the Ngasoma Road Group and is planing to sell food which will also help her community. She has five children still in school and we are confident she will pay back because it's her second loan. She paid back successfully in the past.  Annual income $1700 in Tanzania and we feel that the money we are able to loan will make a difference. -Bouncy Ballers

We want to lend to Roset because she is a single mother with 3 kids.  She is buying a goat to slaughter to feed people of her community.  Through these meat sales she dreams of expanding her market.  Just like us!  We can't believe Uganda's income is $1500 so we would like to lend to her.  -Bouncy Ballers.

It's Lending Season! Take Note!

Today marked the first day of lending for the 2014-2015 young businessmen.  While they have had the opportunity to  make group loans and free loans from Kiva, today marked the day that a group of young men from our Kiva Kids program had successfully made enough money to lend to an entrepreneur of their choice. Today marked the day where 4 boys from Bouncy Ballers decided that they would make a loan in the hopes that it would change a life.  Today marks the day that the loans from our faculty and staff that empowered our boys to start businesses, eventually empowered others from across the globe.  So who did they lend to?  

Meet the Takondwa group from Malawi.  

When asked why they decided to lend to this group the boys eloquently said:

  • They are a group
  • This is their second loan
  • By selling second hand clothing they are making money to help her children, but they are also helping others from their village get the clothes they need-double impact.

Great work boys on being the first to be financially secure enough to make a loan. Just 6 weeks in from being fully funded and doing fantastic work!

(Side note-Malawi is in Africa and Ebola is in Africa was also part of their list-this obviously led to quite a discussion on geography, Africa as a continent and accessibility and didn't make our top 3 reasons!)

Math and Kiva- This is how do we do it...

For those of you familiar with my class, we work closely with Kiva to create daily lessons on financial literacy and the math of running a business.  But in the end, math is everywhere.  I recently created two formal lessons that allow the boys to work with fraction, decimal, percent conversions, solving proportions and percent of number and the creation of circle graphs.  

Through these lessons we were not only able to check out facts on our school wide lending team, we were also able to begin to develop an understanding of how far our dollar goes in another country.  The boys were amazed as they learned the average annual salaries for countries around the globe. It was a great intro to the conversation, why are you holding onto dollars that could be lent?  Do you have enough product that you could depend on the sales for your next pay back and be one of the first groups to empower others?  

Check out the math worksheets we used to build the numbers that lead us to wonder, empathize and act.  

Annual Salaries, Loans and What it Means to Us

Percent of Number with Our Lending Team Infographic

Ferguson and Martin Luther King Jr-Chatting in Advisory about Past and Present

After a fabulous meeting with the 2nd grade teachers where we discussed developmentally appropriate practices, Martin Luther King, Michael Brown, Ferguson, responsibility to discuss current events, and embrace the uncomfortable, I sat down alongside our Director of Community and Inclusion to create a 3 day lesson plan for advisory. 

Using our Developmental Designs protocols we set our meeting up to have a sign in, greeting, share and activity as appropriate. 

Day 1:  

Boys come in to the classroom and sign in with something they "wonder" about MLK.  I asked my team to do their best with familiarizing themselves with relevant facts on MLK.  

I really liked these 5 facts about MLK.  

After sign in, we did our morning greeting. The boys shared a silent peace sign with one another.  

My advisory group decided that as an activity/conversation we would talk about our I wonders.  While some of the boys wondered about facts, some of the boys went a little deeper.

"I wonder if Martin Luther King would be excited to know his dream came true" -Jonas

We began by brainstorming questions in response to this I wonder in an appropriate manner.  Here are a few of the highlights.

  • Did his dream come true?
  • Just because their are laws for civil rights, does this mean that they are put into action in society?
  • Does civil rights means only race?
  • Is California more liberal than other parts of the country?

After gathering these questions we began discussion.  The conversation was intriguing, I hated that at 20 minutes we needed to say goodbye, but we carried on to Day 2. 

Day 2:  


After a quick greeting we read the following message from Kareen Abdul Jabbar.

 It fit right into our conversation from yesterday and was a spokesperson that many of the boys look up to as an athlete.  It also made me think of a professional growth activity from MOSAIC we participated in a few weeks back, sometimes when we aren't involved in the problem, we forget that it even exists.  The boys ended the day feeling that while it is important to appreciate the fight MLK put up for civil rights, that we need to look deeper and not forget that unfortunately the dream is not complete.  And this of course led right into our connection to Ferguson. 

Day 3:  

After a quick hello and a sign in that acknowledged what was "On their mind" the boys watched Maya Angelou and Anderson Cooper speak about MLK and the current state of civil rights in this country (we watched til 2:36).  Who doesn't like to listen to Maya Angelou? The boys listened intently and then I gave them space to talk about their feelings in regards to Ferguson, and other current events in regards to the civil rights movement.  

I posed the following questions:

  • In light of Ferguson, Michael Brown, and the peaceful and non-peaceful demonstrations happening in the country, what do you think Dr. King would say if he was alive today?  
  • Do some of the issues/rights that MLK fought for in his day still exist today? How?
  • What other options, other than public (and sometimes disruptive and non peaceful) demonstrations are their if you are compelled to act? 

I encourage a look at the following sites to assist.

Other resources:

Cool Website:

In the end, "I wonder if Martin Luther King would be excited to know his dream came true?"  We aren't really sure whether his dream did come true or what he would do right now, but we do know that we have some work to do!





Sales, Issues, Lessons and a Little Bit of Community Love-PROUD

This is the coolest project ever, everything I do really matters, it’s so much fun too.

I am proud.  I am proud for so many reasons.  

I am proud of how the community of upper school boys year after year continue to support our on-site entrepreneurs by piling into the garage on sale days, dollars in hand, to purchase items in the name of micro lending.  It was an exciting first few days of sales in the garage, it was the kind of energy and noise that sometimes makes yourself say, "why do I do this to myself?" However, in the end I knew exactly why.   Sales alone we have made $237. Total loans were $332.50- at 71% we are not doing too bad:) Look at that math!

I am proud of the 6B trust group.  Out of the 3 companies coming out of 6B, one of the businesses is really struggling and was unable to pay back their loan this month. Using the comparison to the One Hen simulation we role played earlier this year, we had to have a community meeting to deal with this issue.  I wanted to use this as an opportunity to discuss similar issues in the real world and have the boys walk in the shoes of others. 

I posed the question, "How does it feel to not be able to pay your loan at this time?" to the members of Gako. The boy's responses ranged from "stressed", to "kind of funny", to "happy to be selling with my friends so I don't really mind".  I understand this range of emotions from my 6th graders, the reality is we are selling items to lend to others and their lives, houses, bills and medical care is not dependent on success.  With that though I pressed them a little more.  "How would it feel if I told you that your grade was dependent on it?"  A moment of panic set through the classroom.  The response was that they would be more diligent, committed and would likely do more.  The other boys in the class suggested that they would feel nervous, stressed out and a little guilty for depending on the other members of the trust group to pay their loan back.  I was accomplishing what I intended, getting them to see things from a different angle.  I  moved further and allowed them to recognize and acknowledge that the borrowers on Kiva feel the way they do.  However, it's not their grades, it's likely the opportunity to live a more dignified life.  They started to get it. 

As a response, the boys came up with a solution to the $7 that Gako needed. Fanimals contributed $5 as a loan and CMCX Sports contributed $2 as a loan.  Serious conversation using the mentality I was brought up on that "Fair is not always equal and equal is not always fair" found it's way in.  The boys conversed about how much money they had left in their bank accounts, how much they needed to purchase more supplies and what pay back in February would look like.  In the end they felt that this was a fair response at the moment.  It also led to further conversation about Gako's commitment to success moving forward.  With only $0.11 in the bank account they feel like they have their hands tied behind their backs.  We need more advertising, but we can't afford it.  They are beginning to feel that it takes money to make money.  

I am proud of 6A's group, Sports Balls.  Without being asked, without even speaking to Gako and the members of 6B, this group donated a set of advertisements to Gako to help them.  

Overall I am proud.  

The boys at the moment are:

  • Feeling good and ready to get new product
  • Excited to sell and make real money
  • Anxious to make loans
  • Relieved that they found success
  • Hopeful that the lower school will be equally as enthusiastic
  • Worried that new product won't be as successful

And so we move on.  It's going to be a big week of PERCENTS.  The math will be worked through project materials and the organization of KIVA.  I can't wait.  Using this non profit  continues to be a powerful means to use statistics and numbers to develop empathy.  It's really just getting started for this bunch and I can't wait to see where they go with it:)  

Winner of the First Kiva Raffle Prize of 2014-2015-FLYING SHARK

Winner of the First Kiva Raffle Prize of 2014-2015-FLYING SHARK

Fully Funded and it Feels So Good...

Kiva Kids 2014-2015

The past few weeks the 6th graders have been empathizing with borrowers from around the world. I want to take this moment to introduce you to my 2014-2015 Kiva Kids and share with you what they plan to accomplish over the next few months.  

Check out their business plans and gather more information here. 

However, filling out borrower applications, creating business plans and waiting for the funds to pour in is not the only "kiva" stuff we have been doing. 

First off, we had the wonderful opportunity to host Jessica from Bar Cacao, a real live Kiva Zip borrower. The boys enjoyed learning about the craft of chocolate, some of the finances of purchasing chocolate and the percentage of chocolate in the different kinds of candy they eat.  In addition the boys were able to ask questions about small business ownership and the global aspects of the chocolate world.  Most importantly on this day in December they were able to taste chocolate!  

Secondly,  the boys have been learning how to set up spreadsheets to organize their businesses. Using google spreadsheets the boys have successfully opened up their bank accounts.  The boys were amazed after some self discovery time at how wonderfully spreadsheets do the math for them.  They also had an opportunity to play with conditional formatting which allows them to easily see at quick glance how things are going.  

Lastly, the boys were each given a $25 kiva code from a thanks to a generous donor.  The boys each had the ability to choose someone to loan to under our Town School for Boys Friends and Family page (Want to join?).  We also experimented with reflecting on our choices using  Check out our lending Tackk (we are still working on how to use this as a group).

What's coming in the new year?  Stay tuned for watching the boys light up with excitement from receiving their goods, make advertisements that convey their product and overall mission, compute percentages using borrowers, put things in perspectives as we look at ratios, rates and proportions through the lense 

The fun has only begun!