Project Based Learning (PBL) is a cornerstone of a Foothills School education; it lets students learn collaboratively by asking questions that enhance their understanding of a subject.
Last year, fifth and sixth graders spent a semester focusing on one driving question, “What is Right?” Activities included immersing themselves in the history of street art — eventually creating their own — and examining how the medium can invoke political messages that spark change. They studied historical figures who fought for a cause even when it was unpopular, and examples of how doing the right thing isn’t always clearly black and white. A spring trip to San Francisco sparked discussions of Cesar Chavez’s fight to improve the lives of laborers and farm workers.
Their semester culminated in a service-learning project to raise money and awareness on behalf of the Idaho Food Bank. Students hosted a community lunch and sold bowls they had sculpted and painted, raising enough funds to provide 2,284 meals for needy families.
“Framing our PBL unit on ‘What is right?’ was an authentic and great way for students to study, then represent their reaction to world-wide civil rights atrocities, and gave a lens into the realm of human rights,” says fifth and sixth grade teacher Robbie Prokop. “It allowed them to explore various ways people have responded to these events throughout history, and better examine how those responses are used as social commentary to affect change. Maybe most critically, it provided a platform to reflect on their own lives and apply that question when confronted by situations that test those value boundaries we all hold.”