If kids connect with things that are deeply personal, humorous and disgusting, then poop is a perfect fit! Barry Sommer and his Grade 5 Language Arts class at Prairie Christian Academy dug right into the topic and really got their hands dirty.
Poop created an engaging way to approach numerous LA outcomes including research, note-taking and presenting. Students were instantly interested in the topic and started exploring different ways humans and animals use poop. Through their research, they began to recognize the need for waste management. Students were engaged to research, make connections and write. Students were shocked to discover that not all people in the world have the luxury of plumbed toilets. Simply flushing the waste away is something that they realized we take for granted and isn’t available in many parts of the world. This led them to inquire into diseases that are spread in parts of the world where proper waste management systems aren’t in place.
The fact that so many people get sick, and could possibly die because of poop, inspired them to find a way to help. During their research, they came across the Clean Water for Haiti charity and were able to get in contact with the Executive Director of the program, Chris Rolling. They interviewed Chris via Skype, using questions they prepared, in order to find out more about the project and how they might be able to have an impact. Chris told them about household water filtration systems that the charity makes available to families, which can literally save their lives.
That single connection was all it took. The students decided immediately they wanted to help. They set a goal to raise $500, which is enough to purchase three systems at $150 each. Next step: come up with a suitable fundraiser that could be easily scheduled at school and that their principals would approve of. After lots of ideas, proposals, rejections and do-overs, they finally hit the mark with a school Fun Run. Through the Fun Run, students were given the opportunity to donate $5 in order to be released from class for one period to participate, and a community sponsored garage and bake sale. The fundraisers were a huge success! The students made over $1600 and were able to provide water filters to over 10 families.
Following their fundraising efforts, the students got in touch with Chris Rolling again. This time they were able to Skype with Chris and his whole family. The students discovered that helping others feels really good, and that a little effort can go a very long way in helping those less fortunate than themselves. This collaborative effort and authentic learning inspired outstanding learning for the students. More than the LA outcomes targeted were reached and students built competencies to be connecting and contributing to their world.