Jodie Deinhammer – 11th and 12th Grade – Anatomy and Physiology – Coppell High School – Coppell ISD, Texas
Last year someone shared the #greatchallenges program from TEDMED. This inspired me to use this to challenge my class to spend the year addressing one of the challenges and proposing solutions to help improve society. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember who shared it.)
I allowed my students to build the syllabus for our class, allowed them to design the projects and request guest speakers, and determine our “big plan” for the school year. Last year students decided to address the problem of childhood obesity. Students planned to create a course in iTunes U geared towards children to help them make better lifestyle choices. They created books, videos, a blog, and interactive hands-on activities to teach young children how to be healthy. Their course gained popularity quickly and currently has over 36,000 subscribers world wide. We talked with children from over 20 different countries in just one school year.
This year, students have decided to address two Great Challenges. The first one is “Making Prevention Popular”, or helping people get healthy and avoiding problems associated with an unhealthy lifestyle. They are currently creating videos, infographics, books, and a blog to help people take a six weeks challenge to improve their health. This course is being developed right now and will be released January 1, 2015.
The second challenge is “ The Impact of Poverty on Health”. For this challenge, students are developing a course and books to educate children in developing nations. They believe education can break the cycle of poverty that exists in many of the areas we will be teaching. We have partnered with the Oceans Project, who will be providing technology into classrooms in Georgia, India, and other developing nations around the world. We are creating the educational material to go on that technology to use in the classrooms.
The difference it made in my classroom? Students are engaged. They love seeing all the emails coming in from subscribers to the course. They are thinking differently, being creative, and learning about life outside of our small Texas town. They don’t ask me how to improve their grade, they ask me what they can do to get their work published. They care that they are impacting the world and that what they are doing in our high school classroom is reaching far beyond the walls of our school.
I don’t see this as my success but more their success. I challenge them and facilitate their projects, but everything is their idea, their creation, and ultimately their success. They have gained recognition from Apple and TEDMED, but more importantly, they feel so empowered to create a positive change in the world.
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