Monday, May 2, 2016

Developing World Savvy Students in Minnetonka

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On Saturday some Minnetonka Middle School East eighth grade students placed first and third in the exhibit category at the World Savvy Festival in Minneapolis. The first place winners’ project was about human trafficking and the group of students who took third place did a project on climate change. Minnetonka Middle School West students earned a first place with their website on the extinction of bees.  

A few weeks before, I had the opportunity to help judge some of these eighth grade students’ World Savvy projects in their studies class at Minnetonka Middle School West. The theme of this year’s projects was “Population and Progress.” Students worked to research a global issue by selecting a topic and analyzing how population dilemmas affect people’s progress.  Topics I saw ranged from 3D printing to social media to alternative energy to food waste.   

Students' COP21 Website
One group of three students who I met with chose climate change as their topic. They focused on COP 21, the Conference of Parties, that took place last year with world leaders agreeing to a plan to decrease emissions and slow climate change. The students built a website using Weebly to showcase their learning. I was very impressed with the depth of their knowledge and understanding of the content they had gathered. Their website overall is very impressive, too. The layout, visual appeal, balance of text and images, as well as the photos they selected shows a strong understanding of working with media.

Image source: World Savvy
As stated on their website, World Savvy is “a national education nonprofit that works with educators, schools, and districts to integrate the highest quality of global competence teaching and learning into K-12 classrooms, so all young people can be prepared to engage, succeed, and meet the challenges of 21st century citizenship.” Minnetonka has been working in partnership with World Savvy in the district’s grade eight social studies classes since 2010.  Students at both of our middle schools work in collaborative teams and then present their findings at the school showcase. You can see a video overview of the student showcase from a couple years ago:

The Minnetonka Framework for Teaching & Learning
These projects directly tie in with our Framework for Teaching & Learning which helps us design student experiences for meaning, engagement, and deeper learning.  It includes multiple dimensions, most of which were part of the World Savvy projects: authentic and real-world learning, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, global perspectives, personalized learning, and use of technology. The students were really engaged in their projects and it seemed especially meaningful to them. I would encourage you to learn more about the World Savvy program if you are not already familiar with it.

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