Several years ago, when I was teaching 5th grade, my team and I launched the iProject. It was a project designed to encourage students to think imaginatively, inventively, and independently. It was great because they had the opportunity to research about a topic they were truly interested in, or create an invention they felt the world needed.
A few days ago, I went to visit the Grade 5 hallway, as they had just completed the annual project. Only now, it’s no longer the iProject, it’s the usProject. Instead of students focusing on a topic they are interested in, they focused on a problem that impacts our school or local community. They designed a solution to solve this problem, and put it into action!
The projects are a huge success, and students are able to see their efforts truly make a difference! One group of students created the New Kid Club, so that new students could be welcomed to the school, watch a video to learn all about the campus, and develop a network of friends. Another group made bird feeders and put them around the campus. Two girls worked together to write and illustrate an inspirational picture book, which they read to Kindergarten students. Inspired by this TED talk, students designed and made a “buddy bench,” so that students can make friends more easily at recess. These are just a few examples of the creative and thoughtful projects made by fifth grade students through the usProject.
The evolution from “I” to “Us” is so important, and something we need to see more of now, in the world, and in education.