Bringing Global Issues to Life: Primary Source Institute Inspires 6th Grade Science Teacher

23 July 2012


Last summer, Kathy Wilson, a 6th grade science teacher at Jenkins Elementary School in Scituate, Massachusetts, participated in Primary Source's Teaching for Global Understanding in the 21st Century summer institute. This spring, she wrote to us to share how she successfully implemented a globally-themed community service project inspired by the institute.

"I can't thank Primary Source enough for teaching me how to be a better teacher," she says. "With the resources, ideas, & web 2.0 tools, I'm better able to bring the world into my classroom."

Kathy teamed up with a parent volunteer to kick off the service project, named The Sixth Cents Program. Through this project, her 6th grade classes raised $500 over the span of a month in an effort to provide clean water and hygienic sanitation to people in developing countries through PLAN International's "Gifts of Hope" initiative. The money was raised by collecting spare change and donations from family, friends, and community members.

Kathy's class decided to focus on worldwide access to fresh water after Kathy showed them a VoiceThread presentation created by two other Teaching for Global Understanding participants. "My curriculum only touched briefly on this topic, so I needed to bring in a lot of supplementary resources," Kathy says. "Having the Primary Source resources available through the Global Understanding summer course is what made the difference in bringing this worldwide issue to light in my classroom. My students were shocked by the fact that one in six people worldwide live without reliable, clean water resources, and were especially motivated by the realization that children their age walk several hours daily to get water."

Her science classes discussed how best to spend the money and voted on which specific "Gifts of Hope" to donate. "They were most shocked by the fact that many girls avoid school because they don't have their own latrines," says Kathy. "The girls-only latrines got the most votes by far!" The class decided to donate three "water" gifts to be sent to the next location where PLAN responds to a natural disaster, as well as two girls-only latrines that will be sent to Ghana. The "water" gifts include four emergency water gifts to ensure that families can eat, drink, and wash safely in emergency situations, and a set of water purification tablets that will provide 60 gallons of safe drinking water.

Kathy and her students wrapped up the project and the year by watching A Small Act, a documentary film that was shown at the follow-up session to the Global Understanding institute. Kathy reports that her students loved the documentary, and that she connected the film's focus on education gifts and donations to the impact that water gifts can have on saving a child's life and allowing a child to attend school. "I'm so grateful for the ideas, resources, and motivation I gained last summer through Primary Source," she says.



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