Franklin Elementary Delivering Answers to World's Creativity Crisis
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 1:06 PM
SANTA MONICA, CA / ACCESSWIRE / June 6, 2017 / America today is in the midst of what has been described in a study by The College of William and Mary's Dr. Kyung-Hee Kim as a "creativity crisis." At a time when businesses and societies thrive on innovation, there needs to be a equilibrium reached to balance the rise in IQ scores and decline in creativity, as commonly measured by Torrance test scores Dr. Kim cites, to better empower the children that represent the next century of civilization.
Thanks to forward-thinking schools like Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica, California and teachers like Mrs. Erin Hirsch, the learning dynamic is changing to better serve the future by letting students tap their creativity in a meaningful way.
With the support of the school, community and organizations like donorschoose.org, Mrs. Hirsch has taken the popular extracurricular sport, Lego League, and adopted it to her classroom to promote real-world thinking within her 4th grade students.
Each year, her students are given a topic or theme and tasked with defining the topic, identifying benefits and problems and coming up with potential solutions that they think would make the situation better for presentation to an audience. This year, students were asked to take a critical look at how animals and humans share the world, a theme dubbed, "Animal Allies."
Explaining the foundation for the assignment, Mrs. Hirsch told us, "As a teacher, it is important to me that my students learn to research, understand an issue in their world, examine what is being done about it, and analyze the success or failure of solutions that exist. I don't want students to just memorize facts. I want them to research and think critically to come up with their own solutions. Our future depends on these kids and their ability to think critically. At the end of their informational report I asked the students to propose a different solution explaining why it is a better option."
As adults, we often feel limited in our thoughts, trapped by perceived logic, partisan thinking and political correctness, to name just a few factors keeping us "inside the box." Kids don't recognize most of these restrictions, allowing their creative juices to flow…and Mrs. Hirsch's 4th graders delivered with a bevy of thoughts on the human/animal paradigm that probably go overlooked by most adults everyday.
Students succinctly pointed out that things like global warming, poaching and even research and leading to dwindling polar bear populations. This may not seem like much to some, but Mrs. Hirsch's student Cameron (last name withheld) recognized that polar bears are part-in-parcel to the food chain of many other animals and that even polar bear feces is important to penguins.
How about Serena, who thinks we need to develop nets that sense what type of animal is in it to ensure that some 4,600 turtles aren't needlessly killed by fisherman annually?
It could be said that Christopher has economist aspirations with his ideas on bumping up prices for chicken to ensure quality meats with less animal cruelty. Perhaps he could work with Sasha B., who offers a choice of simple, everyday solutions that consumers could practice to reduce the animal cruelty associated with chicken factory farms.
The topics were diverse, covering human relationships with elephants, puppies, giant pandas and more.
Click here to read Mrs. Hirsch's 4th grade students' Animal Allies research papers.
Some outreach to the students through Mrs. Hirsch demonstrated not only their enthusiasm for the project, but their understanding of the topic and desire to step up and help.
"I feel it is important to write about how animals and humans interact because it teaches how much we need each other to survive," commented Phoebe, while Edward said, "I feel this project was useful because it gave me the opportunity to research real world problems and try to make a difference in the world."
Students worked alone at first to complete their individual project and later broke off into teams to select a research paper for a group presentation on their understanding of the topic and thesis to improve it. Taking things a step further, Mrs. Hirsch incorporated robotics integral to Lego League, using grant money to buy six EV3 robotics kits. Working as one, each group designed, built and programmed autonomous robots to solve animal-themed obstacles made of Legos designed by the First Lego League specifically for the Animal Allies theme.
The students presented their research to parents and interested community members to spread the word about their ideas.
"At Franklin School, it is our goal to help our students find their voices, think deeply with complexity, relate learning to real-world problems, and develop a thirst for knowledge," commented Deanna Sinfield Principal, Franklin Elementary School. "Our students clearly met these goals on this research project."
Whether they realize it or not, students learn the intricacies of research, teamwork, problem solving, coding and public speaking in a fun manner through projects like these designed by Mrs. Hirsch. All 30 students in her class will be moving on to 5th grade in August, one step closer to real life applications of these skills that will shape their future and the world around them.
"Working in teams gives students opportunities to share their ideas and learn how to listen to the ideas of others. The fine arts of compromise and collaboration are key factors important in the world today. Students need to learn how to share their ideas, but also to accept those with conflicting ideas. This is something that many adults have difficulty doing and I am extremely proud of this class for their ability to do so."
Well said, Mrs. Hirsch. Well said.
Franklin is a California Distinguished Elementary School in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) educating over 850 students in grades K-5 with 100 percent of the school's teachers highly qualified.
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Gail Pinsker - Community & Public Relations Officer
Santa Monica - Malibu Unified School District
Telefone: 310.450.8338 x.70230
Erin Hirsch - Teacher 4th Grade Franklin Elementary School
Santa Monica - Malibu Unified School District
SOURCE: Online Media Group, Inc.