Students Inspiring Action and Creating Awareness

The Assignment:

Working in small groups or individually, you need to create something that communicates to people what you learned about modern-day Child Labor. It can inspire ACTION or it can CREATE awareness. You have freedom to ask a question about the topic of child labor and try to find an answer.

Three requirements**:

  1. Do something that you find interesting .
  2. Use your time productively.
  3. If you use images, ideas, content from outside sources, you must cite it.

This is a formative assessment. You will be asked to post your work in your blog and the wallwisher will be posted in my blog. I will help you if you get stuck, but this is really about what you find interesting, exciting, or what you want to learn. It’s also you, thinking about what is the best way to present.

As part of our grade 7 MYP Humanities Industrial Revolution unit, we study child labor in 19th Century England. We look at primary documents, try to imagine what life would be like in those factories, and think about why child labor was allowed. At the end of the unit, I then ask my student to look at modern day child labor. One of the goals is to show that as countries strive to develop economically, certain patterns (including child labor and degradation of the environment) have remained over the centuries. But I also want students to start thinking about how they influence opinions about a real-life issue. I love this assignment, because it really introduces the idea of evaluating websites (which we do via a wallwisher) and then it allows for students to develop something that interests them in a way that is fascinating for them. The freedom of this assignment, without the pressure of grades and rubrics, combined with the idea of sharing with people outside my classroom, has produced some amazing things. They created posters, made movies, sang songs**, and given speeches and I know it’s something they will remember.

Last year I invited the principals to my classroom to watch their presentations and it really added an element of seriousness to their work.  But this year I noticed a difference in how my kids decided to present their information. My students this year immediately began to use social media to raise awareness. They were on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr sharing their work, connecting with friends, and pushing their message far beyond my class.

One group was particularly thoughtful about how to use social media. This is what they created and posted on Facebook and Tumblr.

They were incredibly thoughtful about how they presented their information.

  • On Tumblr, “regular” posters aren’t reposted. So a straight on shot of the poster wouldn’t cut it. That’s why this picture presents information at an angle with other things going on in the background.
  • They used handwriting, instead of typing it up, because it looks like a kid wrote it. They thought it would be more powerful.
  • They wanted to use color instead of a picture of modern child labor, because colorful photos were often reblogged. They said red was particularly popular and they wanted it to look like a kid made it.
  • They took the photo on instagram so it would be another place to share their message.
  • The Facebook group on the bottom of the page was created by another group in the class.
  • They actually contacted Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram to see if they could get money for every repost, tweet, and “like”. They wrote, “We are grade 7 students at Yokohama International School (YIS).  In humanities class, we are studying about child labour.  Right now, we are working on a project to help people become more aware about child labour. We are making digital posters, and planning to put them on Tumblr.  For every reblog and likes we were wondering if you could donate 50 cents to the Anti Slavery Campaign. This will really help the children that are being put through manual labour everyday. If you do help us this could be one step closer to help stop child labour.  Thank you.”  They have not heard back, but I love the initiative.

Social media is going to be one way our students can change the world. As we were working on this assignment, the Kony and the Invisible Children campaign became a phenomenon. My students learned about this issue because they saw it on Facebook.  They know that words aren’t enough. I want my students to be critical thinkers when it comes to viral campaigns, but it’s not enough to just be able to read and analyze visual information. They need to be thoughtful about how to use imagery to get across their message. They need to be creators of these types of campaigns, about issues they are passionate about.  And just as we need to teach persuasive writing or how to vary tone in a debate, we need to teach how to use and create powerful imagery to bring about change. This will help give kids the tools they need to be change-makers. And isn’t that what we really want our student to be?


* These were successful requirements for the assignment. The kids were busy the entire time. We spent a lot of time brainstorming what the project should be and I talked to them a lot in the investigation and design phase, but it was incredibly student-driven.

** One of my biggest disappointments is that I did not record the two boys singing the anti-child labor song they wrote. Lesson–always have iPhone ready to record your students

About Rebekah Madrid

MYP Humanities Instructor. International School Teacher in Japan. Google Certified Teacher. Apple Distinguished Educator. National Board Certified Teacher. Traveler & TV Watcher. This is where I write my thoughts about all of the above.
This entry was posted in COETAIL @YIS, Humanities, MYP Humanities, Technology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Students Inspiring Action and Creating Awareness

  1. Love this! I’m so excited to start seeing our students use social media for a purpose. They’re making connections between their personal use and their academic use, and transferring skills between different contexts. A fantastic demonstration of higher order thinking and deep understanding. Awesome! I want to share this story on the Getting Connected blog – is that OK?

  2. It was incredibly cool to see them use social media…that was something very different from next year and it’ll be interesting to see how they use it in the future. And feel free to share the post anywhere…I think parents need to know that these new online spaces can be used for good!

  3. Pingback: Then and Now: Project Based Learning | Rebekah Madrid

  4. Pingback: Throwing Ideas Out There: Design Thinking and Professional Development | Rebekah Madrid

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