A time to reflect, recuperate, relax, and reorganize!
This summer I will also be changing classrooms. Third time in 3 years. Is that a record? Probably not. Next school year I will be 6th grade homeroom again. I will be teaching Social Studies to 6-8, Religion, and Language Arts..a busy schedule to be sure. Its going to be weird to not teach a single math class. I'll have to get my math fix somehow!
As I am packing, and discarding, and filing, I came across some leftover student work ( shoved in the back of a desk! eek!) This year, I started what I call a "poverty project" with my 8th graders. It's no secret that cost of living in the Bay Area is astronomical with the median home value in San Francisco being , as of this posting, over $1 million. The poverty project really helped connect the kids with the hard facts.
We started off simply. Each child was given "$100 to create a food budget for the month for themselves. Easy breezy, lots of "value meal" stuff, they had fun putting it together ( they were given some nutritional guidelines). Then, surprise, the next day they were gifted with a family. They had to create a budget using the same $100, but this time for FOUR people... by the time they hit the second week, many of them were broke. There were many "this isn't possibles"
The next day when the kids entered, they randomly chose a monthly income from a hat. The incomes ranged from $2000-$10,000 for the month. Their assignment was to find a place to live....not so easy in our geographic region. The kids were very happy to dig right in, until I told them that their home could not be more than 60% of their income. It was really interesting to see the choices they made. Many of them tried to budget for a private school education for their "children", however they realized that it wasn't possible at their income level. This led to great conversations about the choices THEIR parents make in order to educate them, and make sure they have little luxuries like fancy headphones and newest shoes and iPads.
We then expanded our thinking and research to talk about how people survive in other parts of the world. We watched the documentary Living on One Dollar. ( warning, there is one bad word!) and talked about how poverty is not just a local problem, but a global one. Key moment...after watching the documentary, it was time for lunch so we prayed and I told the kiddos to "enjoy their lunch" and they all kind of flinched with chagrin. It's hard to throw away food when you see people struggling to FIND food in a day. The students brainstormed ways to address global poverty. Their conclusion was education...which led to a discussion about how education would be funded.
This was an amazing week of learning for them. Usually the 8th graders get a little "senior-itis" at the end of the year as they prepare for high schol, but this project kep them focused and thinking.