Mrs. Olivia Bost and her first grade class at Wylandville Elementary planned and completed the project as a special addition to a new social studies curriculum for the school district. This curriculum includes an emphasis on cultural standards. The grade-level worked as a grade-level team to teach lessons related to Australia's culture throughout the year.
After finding out about the bushfires that happened in Australia, Mrs. Bost discussed this current event with the students. She paired visible thinking routines (from Project Zero at Harvard's Graduate School of Education) with some photography of the fires to encourage slow-looking leading to deep thinking in their learning space. Many of the children contemplated how the fires would affect the animals they'd learned were native to Australia, like koalas and kangaroos. They also wondered about the people who live in the areas where the fires were happening. With the help of a powerful image, students stepped inside the perspective of a young girl who was camping, due to the need to flee her home. They pondered what this person would see, hear, think, and feel in this moment, and they considered what that must be like for her and her family.
After engaging in this meaningful thinking, they wanted to do something to help! They brainstormed lots of ideas and decided on the bookmarks because;
- They want to encourage people to read, and –
- There was no cost associated with creating them. They wanted them to be unique, so they added the thumbprint koalas.
After all of their learning, it took a few weeks to come up with a plan and bring it into fruition. They invited their families and those close to them to donate (any amount) to purchase a bookmark. Wylandville’s Principal, Mrs. Shannon Balch and Mrs. Bost hope this project encourages people to do something if they hear about a group that needs their help and it strikes their heart.
“I am really passionate about the importance of fostering empathy and have been for a long time, even with our youngest learners.” says Mrs. Bost. “I think it's really important that kids develop global competence and understand that what we do affects other people in big ways. My hope is that - through this project - our young learners realize the amazing impact they can have on the world.”