I heard Pat speak four times last week in Philadelphia, and he was, as usual, a rock star every time. These are my two favorite stories:
At the Lamplighter School in Texas, the grade three class runs an Egg Business. They use their own money to create an investment fund, and then they buy chickens. They create a marketing plan, and then sell the eggs. At the end of the year, there is a big debate: what to do with the profit? As you can imagine, the class is divided – to give away money to charity (the girls!) or to split the profits (the boys!)…. The classic capitalism vs. socialism debate… in grade three…
Another school’s signature event was the Grade Six Bake Sale. The students all agree on the product – in this case, it was cupcakes – and then they all agree on the marketing and business plans, including the price. On the day of the Bake Sale, one student (yes, it was a boy!) bought all of the cupcakes for the agreed upon price, and then he resold them for a higher price. This created a huge campus-wide debate. He asked our group: what side are you on? And how would you create similar big debates in your school?
Pat challenged all school leaders: What is your signature event at each grade level? The one that makes kids excited to get in to the next grade?
His challenge reminded me of a story I heard about Google. One of my association colleagues told me that Google staff have complained to their children’s school about homework. Their challenge?
Homework should include working on unsolvable problems. So Google would probably like seeing kids engaged in the big projects and debates that Pat described.
I know some of our CAIS schools have signature projects at each grade. (My daughter’s grade six class at Ridley is engaged in one now! Her teacher, Mrs. Beatty, told me this morning that the younger students are already excited to get into her grade six class so they can do “the bean market”.) But I’m not sure how many schools have a homework policy that includes unsolvable problems.
Anyone care to share their signature projects or unsolvable problems homework policies? I’m sure that Pat and Google would like to hear from us…