Changing the World, One Community at a Time

Filed under: Schools |

They live and learn in Duncanville, Texas, but the work of Smith Elementary second graders is having a global impact. They’re helping the US military research how to build new communities in Afghanistan. It’s part of a problem-based learning (PBL) unit introduced by their teachers in September. “My good friend is married to an Army lieutenant currently stationed in Afghanistan,” explained teacher Krystal Gomez. “She shared his story with me the weekend of our Design for Profound Learning session this summer. We were designing our PBL on communities, so we decided to combine the two.”

Each second grade class received a personalized letter from Lieutenant Steven Bischak. “Our job is to help the country of Afghanistan build new communities,” he said. “Mrs. Gomez told me that you were learning about what makes a successful community. I need a design model to help my platoon build the perfect, new community. The design will need to include everything that makes a community successful. We need your help!”

After receiving the correspondence, students got to work researching their structures. They interviewed community members and even took a field trip to the Duncanville Post Office. Once their recommendations are finalized, they’ll present them via Skype to Lt. Bischak’s wife, on behalf of the Lieutenant. Students will also have the opportunity to ask her questions, and although they won’t see their plans in action, they hope to change the world one community at a time. “I felt so excited when I read the letter from Lt. Bischak, because I felt like I would be giving hope to the people of Afghanistan,” said student Sydnee Malone. “It has taught us what belongs in a community and how to work as a team,” added Talyia Parson.