It’s that time of year again. August! Where the northern hemisphere gears up for another year of school. Children are excited to see their friends. Parents are excited for their children to see their friends. And teachers prepare for another year of study. It is that adrenaline-charged time of year when anything is possible. But do we really believe that? Do we really believe our students are capable of doing the impossible?
I think so.
At GEMS American Academy in Abu Dhabi, we are planning something ambitious. Time and time again we see conferences and meetings for adults to develop professionally and try and solve some of the world’s biggest problems. If we as adults are capable of solving these problems, why not our kids? They will invariably be the ones who have to face the brunt of these present and future issues anyway.
That’s why, this fall, our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students will participate in the first annual Health and Wellness Summit. Much like it sounds, our students will invest in a unit of inquiry that aims to solve the biggest health and wellness issues of today. Obesity, malnutrition, heart disease, infant mortality – these are some of the possible topics our students will work to eradicate. And they will do it together.
3rd graders will work through ideas related to growth mindset. 4th graders will be researching body systems. While 5th graders will be inquiring about mindfulness and its relation to health and well-being. The culmination of their six to seven weeks of research will result in a full day of conferences. During the day long summit, students will participate in small groups of 20-25 students. In these groups, students will submit their findings, discuss the barriers to success, and brainstorm solutions to their issue, which they’ve chosen beforehand.
If we truly believe our students are capable of anything, than it is our job as educators is to create opportunities and avenues where our students can do the unimaginable. Let’s not limit our students ability to grow with the boundaries we’ve placed on ourselves. This summit will allow our students to think, to research, and most importantly, to apply their understandings immediately to a real world problem. In this, we are fostering in our students the idea they CAN and SHOULD think bigger than ever.
Let’s all start thinking BIG!