Kulshan Students Deepen Understanding in Social Action Projects

More than 150 Kulshan Middle School seventh graders, their families and caregivers gathered together in the Kulshan Commons to share and promote their Social Action Projects in February 2017.

As a culminating project for their first semester social studies class, teachers Matt Macleod, Minh Nguyen and student teacher Brooke Stromme engaged their students in project-based learning.  Working in small groups, the students selected issues that resonated with them, completed the inquiry cycle, and devised a way to share the project and to even take action in our Bellingham community.

Project-based learning strategies promote classrooms with individualized learning based on interest, student passion and strengths of students. For this project, student groups selected important local, national and global issues that included homelessness, youth depression and anxiety, animal rights and abuse and refugees.

Kulshan student Ana Zurcher explained why she chose her topic of homelessness.

“I see homelessness all around our community,” Zurcher said. “I really liked being able to choose what we were able to study and I liked being able to make a difference.”

According to the teachers, some of the most significant outcomes of this project were developing students who are global thinkers as they looked at ‘big’ issues in the world, effective communicators as they presented real-world social issues to their peers and families in professional ways and critical thinkers and problem solvers as student groups took action. These actions ranged from promoting local organizations that support the social issue, writing letters to local elected officials, creating YouTube informational videos and touring animal shelters to learn about the issues from ‘experts’ in the field.

Social studies teacher Minh Nguyen believes this project helped students “understand, engage and think in solution-oriented ways about problems in our community.”

“Several student groups extended their learning outside the walls of the classroom by engaging family members in the process and even meeting with community organizations,’ Nguyen said. “Kulshan kids worked to redefine what it means to be young, compassionate, active citizens.  As their teacher, I am proud to see their growth, maturity and involvement.”


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