DKIES first graders learn about making a difference

| October 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

Students in Jennifer Lesner’s first grade class pose with school supplies they plan to donate to Joe E. Moreno Elementary School in Texas, which was impacted by Hurricane Harvey. (Photo courtesy of Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School)

Principal Jan Iwase
Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — A first grade social studies standard is learning the difference between wants and needs.
As teacher Jennifer Lesner planned her curriculum, she thought of how she might integrate this standard into a project to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Project-based learning
This was the start of project-based learning in Lesner’s first grade class at Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School (DKIES). It started with a question, “What do they need to do their best learning?” followed by an entry event, sharing photos of a school that was flooded.
As the students explored the driving question, they brainstormed a list of things students would need in their classroom. They thought about their own classroom and what was essential to their learning.

The first graders didn’t quite grasp how the floods affected the school supplies, so they replicated a “flood” in a plastic bin. They put samples of school items – pencils, crayons, markers, paper, etc. – and filled it with water and some dirt and observed what happened to the supplies. When the water began to smell and the items were “yukky,” the students realized the impact of the hurricane on the school.

Real application
Lesner connected with a first grade classroom at Joe E. Moreno Elementary School in Texas and received a letter from the teacher that began, “My students and I are extremely excited to learn that we have friends in Hawaii who will be helping us acquire some of the items necessary to do our very best this year.”

DKIES students brainstormed ways to help the first graders at Joe E. Moreno Elementary School. Some of the ideas, like a yard sale and lemonade stand, were scrapped because students realized that would be too much work. They decided, instead, to collect school supplies from their families and to put a money bucket in the DKIES office to collect donations to ship the boxes to Texas.

They made posters and wrote a letter to DKIES parents to ask them for donations. A parent came to talk with the students about the significance of lei, and these first graders made a paper and straw lei and wrote letters to their new friends in Texas.

Families also had an opportunity to purchase a book at our Book Fair or donate their change from their purchases to send to the first grade classroom. It became a school-wide project.

Fostering empathy
Lesner shared that when she first started this project, she did not know where it was going to lead. Her goal was for students to understand wants and needs in different situations while showing empathy towards others.

The students quickly took charge of their own learning and came up with amazing ideas to help students affected by Hurricane Harvey. She then became the facilitator and helped their ideas come to life.

When the class received their first school supply donation, the students were overjoyed.

“Mrs. Lesner, we are really doing it!” her class said. “We are helping students get what they need to do their best learning.”
This is an experience that will stay with Lesner forever and with her students long into their educational future. These first graders are learning what it means to make a difference.

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Category: Community, Education

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