23. From inspiration to action! Missions, Timelines, Action Plans and GO!
What’s your mission? “To clean up beaches and stop marine animals from eating garbage and dying!”, “To raise money with a garage sale for the World Wildlife Fund to save the pandas!”. Kids jumped up on the ever so handy (and sturdy) coffee table at the front and shouted out their intentions. (My mission is to (action) to help (issue)!)
It was so energizing, I had to do it too. My mission is to empower young people to make a difference for the world by developing and teaching the Take Action Project! Yeah!
From inspiration to action, today was the day they put it all together. They had already made their work flow charts for the most part. I asked for comments on how useful it was, and how long it took them to put together the chart. “I don’t have to guess what to do next, I’ll know.” “It will be useful later for keeping me on track.” “It helped me think through how much time it will take me. It’s bigger than I thought.” This last comment was echoed by many students. It took students between 30 to 90 minutes to do the flow chart. Most were still in a ribbon format. Parallel tasks are hard for them to visualize even with the demo.
Many forgot to include the small chunked tasks of making the poster. Told them to add it for full credit by tomorrow after they looked at the example at the front from the Lemonade Stand.
Chunking up tasks bedevils many of us, such a handy skill. I’m enjoying re-learning and applying this to help meetings with adults go easier and be more fun. The longest journey starts with a single step and all that…
Kids are excited about advertizing their events on the whiteboard “Abby and Christine are dong a beach clean-up on March 20th. Join us!”, “Molly and Claire are selling friendship bracelets for WWF” and similar (BTW all names I use are fictitious in case we get some student visitors :-)). Very fun to see what they are up to. They also add events to the class calendar and I’ll advertize them on the homework site and lesson plans. I’m committing to going to as many events as I can, although maybe not slumber parties… awkward.
Using the TAP sheet 17 Project Management as a guide, I showed examples of timelines (both vertical and horizontal), materials lists and how to add tasks and materials action items into their agendas. Then they were off, working with partners if in the same class. They looked like little executives, focused and intent for the most part. Still a few with very inadequate flow charts. Spent some time coaching. Really important to circulate and pick up struggling students now rather than have them be failing at the last minute. Last year, a couple of nightmares around that.
Red flags – “I’m going to help at the food bank/collect donations for X”. Neither of these are really ‘projects’. Karen and I are insisting that kids do an action that they plan themselves or make something to sell in ADDITION to these activities above. Back to gentle coaching “What do you love to do?” Offering ideas like having a food bank party afterwards to encourage friends to come and help too. Organizing the party is their project.
Web site red flag: “I’m going to make a web site…” We quiz them closely on how their website will make a difference, why people would want to go there and what evidence they can collect that the site made a difference. Tracking donations to their non-profit link is pretty well impossible. Maybe parents can set up a paypal account for the np? Not sure how to deal with this one….
Log books were under used last year. This year, Judge Sue (aka Judge Judy of the TV show) will use the log books as evidence that they did do enough work AND that they did their fair share, should either of these questions arise. Entries are public, they only need to record what they did any day they work on TAP, not their feelings. Handy for recording ideas and stuff to remember etc. Getting them in the habit of professional scientists and project managers.
When you think about it, it’s all pretty much what parents do – family calendar, shopping lists, to do lists – for the big project of getting our kids through to graduate alive and happy.
Next Year: We’ll have a theme of “Think Globally, Act Locally” and will have index cards with all kinds of project ideas to encourage more creative and direct action types of projects.