The buzz for these fifth graders…
“So, when the queen bee lays the eggs…”
is how a field trip, can be so much more than ‘ooohing and ahhing’
“Don’t be afraid to touch it.”
over holding a queen bee.
“What is one way anyone can help?”
They’re ‘bee’searching – colony collapse disorder, or CCD –
and how they can help save our beloved pollinators – the honeybees.
“Denver was one of the first cities in the north to go all the way to the Supreme Court with the desegregation case.”
“What can we do to help stop discrimination?”
It’s the centerpiece of their final project as International Baccalaureate Primary Years students at Brown.
“Discrimination in Education.”
A culmination of everything they’ve done from Kindergarten through fifth grade.
“Throughout the whole process you think, ‘Is this going to come together?”
Wendy Edwards is a fifth-grade teacher at Brown who says, the students become the teachers.
“In a normal day we tend to guide them through their learning even if it has to do with research. But in this project, they are held to a higher standard because they have to do this on their own.”
Those interviews, add weight to their real world projects.
“Bee extinction is a real problem.”
Revealing to these students a real need to take these things on – right now.
“All students have access to education but there is still a gap… achievement gaps…”
Teachings they share with the community at a final presentation.
“Now I know how to stop it, and like, how not to discriminate people…”
Lessons they’ll take with them for life.
“And it just becomes mind blowing.”
For DPS Features, I’m Ben McKee
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Fifth Grade Students Tackle Real World Issues
Around the end of every school year, Brown International Academy fifth grade teacher Wendy Edwards has a minor little freak-out: “Throughout the whole process you think, ‘Is this going to come together?’” she said.
Edwards is talking about the self-directed, end-of-year projects students are tasked with completing as part of their International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme. Their projects – which touch on critical issues and current events – are intended to encompass everything they have learned from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“In a normal day, we guide them through learning, even with research,” Edwards said. “In this case, they have to do it on their own.”
“This project helps me (prepare for) sixth grade, because we’ll be doing a lot of projects in sixth,” said Brown fifth grader Breeani Silva.
Some groups tackled declining honeybee populations, visiting a bee farmer and businessowner at Dakota Bees in Lakewood. Another group discussed discrimination in education with educators at the Emily Griffith Campus in Downtown Denver.
“Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is what discrimination is, and how it affects people,” said fifth grader Mya Kennedy. “Now I know how to stop it, and how not to discriminate people.”
Students then create action plans – raising money or awareness about their topics – before presenting their findings to their families and the community in late May.
“It just becomes… mind-blowing. I cry every year, Edwards said. “They realize they can make a change and have action. It’s beyond anything we can teach them in a classroom because they learn it themselves.”