At Roosevelt Elementary School students have been working on “discovering and developing a passion,” part of the vision statement of The Bellingham Promise. Fourth-grade teacher, Meredith Attar, teamed up with first grade teachers Gretchen Simmons and Michelle Ostendorff to work on Buddy Passion Projects.
Passion Projects began with fourth grade students who designed and carried out projects that were based on their own interests and passions. The Buddy Passion Projects became an extension of the original idea and invited first grade students to be part of the process. For this part, first grade students were asked to think of a question about something they wanted to learn.
“The projects give the fourth graders a chance to be teachers and leaders,” said Attar. “They also solidified their understanding of the inquiry process. The first graders learned that their ideas and interests were important. They also learned about the inquiry process.”
Some of the questions first graders asked included: What do trains carry? Where do horses live? How do you make a picture book? What do pigs eat? What is the sun made of?
Attar outlined the Passion Projects below:
Day One: Fourth graders visited our buddy class and paired up. Fourth graders brought an interest survey they had developed, to help the first graders figure out their interests and something each of them really wanted to learn. By the end of this session, each first grader had narrowed down an inquiry question he/she wanted to find the answer to. We then went back to our classroom and looked at the questions. Each fourth grader chose one question he/she was interested in helping with. They then found books and articles that would help their first grader answer his/her question.
Day Two: Fourth graders shared their research. They buddy read to the first graders and helped them draw and write about the answer to their questions. Before day three, fourth graders brainstormed how they could help their first grader share out their learning. They gathered materials (like clay, poster paper, cash register tape, etc.).
Day Three: Fourth graders helped first graders make a display of the answer to their inquiry question.