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Tales from the Loft

At the beginning of the school year, middle school started our three year cycle diving into seventeen global goals, AKA the UN's Sustainability Development Goals. We created a visual in our classroom, with the seventeen goals creating a circle and all of the problems we could think of that plague the world in the middle. Some problems addressed community gaps, some faraway conflict. All of the problems could be directly connected back to one of the goals.

The wall stayed just like this for most of the year.

But, in the background and throughout the first year unit studies, while the wall showed no change, students learned and reflected and researched many issues near and dear to their hearts. And during the last two weeks of school, it all finally came together.

Students have been grappling with an individual Big Question, and as a final assignment they designed a project to complete of their own volition. They completed personality assessments to discover their natural changemaking style and the areas of talent they most enjoyed using. Next, with some guidance, students created questions and researched information about their topic. They designed their own plan towards community awareness, advocacy, or action.

Students then wrote their action statements on bright orange cards and pasted them on the wall over the problems. Strings were attached to the cards and strung to every single global goal that connected to their solution. In a single day, after months of learning, the world's problems became faded cards underneath a vibrant web of solutions.

The wall of community action in progress....

Because summer came right at the culmination of our finalizing plans, we challenged students to see their projects through on their own over the summer. Returning students will share their growth when they get back to DGS in August.

Our students are problem solvers. Changemakers. Creatives. Builders. Advocates. Activists. Their voices carry weight.

So, while we focused on the process for the bulk of our lessons, hopefully students discovered that their voice matters - not when they reach adulthood, but right now.

Their questions and their community involvement towards solutions:

Oliver: How can startup research engage the public for popularity?

Question: What are the current innovations for clean energy?

Action: Create a YouTube video for awareness on nuclear energy.

Reeves: Why are Israel and Palestine fighting?

Question: What is the history between Israel and Palestine that led up to what's happening now?

Action: Create a map book of the region throughout history to show who lived where when and who claimed what land at different periods in history.

Graydon: What are the trends of arson in Iraq?

Question: How bad is arson in Iraq?

Action: Make a flier raising awareness about fires in Iraq.

Tyson: What does inflation look like in the US? Should it be prevented or controlled?

Question: How does inflation affect the cost of food?

Action: Create an art installation - Make an empty wooden bowl for display and a sign with a QR code so people can learn more about food needs in our community.

Camryn: How can we support all women in sports?

Question: How do women feel about transgender women competing in sports?

Action: Create a survey to research how athletes in women’s sports feel about this issue.

Emma C: What percentage of livestock animals experience some type of animal abuse and where is it most frequent?

Question: Is anything being done to prevent livestock abuse in Charlotte?

Action: Create an online donation drive for a local horse rescue.

Emma R: Who struggles the most with drug addiction and how can we treat them?

Question: How is drug addiction affecting teens in Charlotte?

Action: Create an original painting on recycled wood that can be displayed outside.

Addie: How can we raise awareness about eating disorders by promoting healthy eating?

Question: How does the media deal with eating disorders?

Action: Create a Pinterest board about healthy eating/eating disorders to share with the community.

Olivia: How many trees are negatively affected by human society and what impact does it have on the earth around us? 

Question: What can we do to protect trees? 

Action: Create a scavenger hunt for Beaty Park in Davidson for children to identify trees and their benefits. 

India: How can I help prevent ocean dead zones?

Question: What causes the dead zones?

Action: Make and print fliers and put them up around town. (Focus on Davidson) 

Sydney: What are the effects of bamboo forests being cut down and how does it affect animal populations?

Question: What kind of animals rely on bamboo forests to survive?

Action: Have a lemonade stand to raise money and donate to websites that support bamboo forests.

Lily: What type of animal abuse is the worst and what are we doing about it?

Question: What animal suffers the worst abuse? What is the most common form of abuse?

Action: Paint artwork focused on this theme and provide a QR code for the community to learn more about animal abuse in our area.

Delilah: What are the main causes of child labor?

Question: Where is child labor happening globally?

Action: Make fliers and hang them up in Charlotte after creating a map of where to display them. 

Elle: How much trash and pollution go into the ocean daily?

Question: How can we prevent trash from going into the ocean? 

Action: Make the fliers for an anti-littering campaign about storm drains. (Focus on Huntersville)

Cate: What are the main reasons trash ends up in the ocean and how can we prevent it?

Question: How does it affect the animals?

Action: Make flyers with ways trash ends up in the ocean and steps to prevent it. (Focus on Davidson) 

Claire: How can we prevent drug addiction?

Question: What can Charlotte do to prevent drug use?

Action: Put posters in heavily populated drug use areas with different resources for various therapies and nature walks. 

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