During a committee meeting, I was asked by a member of my teacher leader team, "why do you stay in this career?" I could sit here and write my packaged response about how excited I am about how education and the teaching profession is changing for the good, but I would much rather share my stories from this week, which will clearly prove just that.
Launching the advertising PBL this week, I reflected back to my blog posts from last year so that I could put into perspective how the boys may react. I was nervous. I reminded myself that morning that these boys will need to be taught/shown/exercised to become dedicated to the overall concept of helping alleviate poverty. I reminded myself to be patient and understanding and that they are 11 and 12 year old boys living in a privileged area of the US, many with very little experience or knowledge about the concepts to be introduced..
I walked into class and announced that it was a project launch day. One of the boys immediately said, "Is it Kiva?". With a grin and a wink, I let the boys know that this project would involve Kiva, but it was not in fact the project of "Kiva" that they were imagining. And as I do every year, I also replied, "and be careful boys imagining what you think the "Kiva" project is all about".
Immediately J raised his hand:
"I think the Kiva project to us is like watching a movie. We have seen this really great and exciting product from the outside, but we have no idea all the work that goes on behind the scenes". I couldn't have said it better myself.
The boys began their Think, Puzzle and Explore Activity. It went really well. As I reflected with fellow Kiva U folks that evening, "Kiva is a non-prophet?" While giggling at the spelling, I actually think it fits right into a part of the definition for prophet. "A spokesperson of some doctrine, cause or movement" Kiva you inspire us to make change at Town, and many others.
Using two different methods, I had the boys reflect after the initial brainstorm and after 10 minutes of KIVA.ORG, unguided inquiry as well. One group in Edmodo and the other one on Padlet. It was wonderful to see some of their of mind-shifts, but I was already pretty inspired.
The boys completed the vocab sheet for homework which enabled us more time to chat about it the following day. Unbelievable mathematical conversations about credit, lending, credit scores, bank cards vs credit cards and access to money. We could have gone on for days, but I knew we would go back to it.
I announced the driving question, "How can we make advertisements for Kiva that best represent the organization and convince new and existing customers to loan to particular geographic areas?"
The boys began asking confirming questions: What would they be graded on? What was the criteria? Those are the questions I get every year. But the enthusiasm quickly grew? Who is our public audience? Can we share these with other schools in the area to convince them? It wasn't fear in their eyes when I told them that I was quite sure that we could do all of that and more, and that likely Kiva would share our work with other schools and their twitter page, it was pure EXCITEMENT!! One student said, "Wow, we better do a good job! We have a lot of people to inspire."
The boys were anxious and excited to discover what groups they would be part of and where their geographic region would be. I was already so jazzed about where their minds were going so we moved quickly into this. I figured we could come back to clarifying questions as needed. My final words of advice, "You can't sell a product you don't know. If you have never tasted a snickers bar it would be hard to convince me to eat one. Remember to spend some time on the site." And I handed off their proposal sheet.
One of the changes I made this year was that I told the boys that they could choose to do anything they wanted within their geographic region. It was exciting, with only a little help, to see what they came up with. With less than 30 minutes on Friday to start filling out their proposals I already had one group deciding to concentrate on areas of civil war, and diving into the facts and history, the Africa group deciding to focus on countries affected by Ebola and another region deciding to focus on an area that lent to 100% woman. I asked that group, why do you think more micro financing institutions focus on woman? The first response, "Men don't like to ask for help as often". But the second boys chimed in quickly that access to funding is likely easier for men to get than woman. These boys are on to something!
The curiosity, interest, desire to share and excitement filled the garage. I was smiling all week. The paragraphs I just wrote, they are the takes of the "movie" that my student described. While the thousands of invested dollars on Kiva.org from Town School Boys and the fun of sales that are to come are what most people see, it's all of this that makes it possible