I am Dana Itani, from Lebanon. I’m an educator for more than seven years, a university instructor, and a researcher. This case study is issued from Al-Hayat International School Pedagogical Team. Al-Hayat International School (HIS) is an IB school located in Lebanon, Aramoun.
This case study shares the effect of FIRST Framework application on fifth-graders. The study is based on the impact of FIRST on students’ transformation of learning into different contexts. Moreover, the case portrays the importance of Parallel Learning Outcomes in achieving desirable effects.
In IB (International Baccalaureate) schools, students of fifth-grade culminate their learning journey in an exhibition to show their deep understanding of the concepts, proper development of skills, and appropriate display of attitudes and learner profile attributes all throughout the primary year’s program (PYP). Fortunately, 4 members of our team were getting FIRST training throughout the academic year 2017/2018 and with the whole team, they implemented FIRST framework domains and principles. Students and the team, together, brainstormed for ideas for the exhibition.
In this case study, in particular, we would like to show how the Transforming Learning into Performance Domain (T) was applied which is transforming learning into performance. Grade 5 HIS students inquired into the use of media in creating new opportunities. After brainstorming for ideas that would benefit them, their community, and the world, and after noticing that a lot of food is being wasted at their homes and in the cafeteria, they decided that their exhibition will be about “Grace Savers”. Accordingly, they researched different solutions to deal with wasted food. Students agreed to place a refrigerator in the school’s Masjid for the needy people to get food on a daily basis where all the students in the school would donate food from their homes. Their further research led them to think of the expired food in the fridge, and decided to create a machine that turns expired food into fertilizers; these organic fertilizers will be used for nourishing their school’s gardens. Moreover, students employed their research and knowledge about media to advertise for their projects through Facebook, by announcing their idea in Friday Prayer in the school’s Masjid, and by creating a (Grace Savers) phone application that encourages people in their neighborhood to donate food.
The example above is a live example of how learners, when being trusted and empowered, can transform learning into different contexts. Moreover, through their observations, feedback, and continuous reflection, they found a solution for a problem that emerged which is creating a food cycler machine that turns food to fertilizers for their school’s gardens. Furthermore, in the T domain, one of the principles is “Reflection on Reality”, and here we can witness how grade five learners were able to reflect on their reality and face the real problems that emerge when they go deeper during their inquiry then accordingly suggest solutions for each problem.
Regarding the principle “Practicing and Experiencing” of the T domain, students practiced what they’ve learned and also experienced it. In media, they were practicing presentation and marketing skills and then they experienced it in the school’s Open House where they interviewed people and advertised for their idea. For instance, they consulted a mechanical engineer, maintenance supervisor, and the school’s gardener to create a machine and after they researched and studied about the machine, they experienced creating their own.
For the principle “Continuity and Follow-up”, the students designed charts and divided roles among them to follow-up on the refrigerator in the masjids, the food cycler machine, and the phone application they created.
Applying FIRST in all its principles and highlighting on the T domain in the PYP Exhibition was a wonderful experience for the teachers, students, and their parents. In addition to all this, the parallel learning outcomes of the program were emphasized throughout the experience. For example:
Students cooperated in groups according to their interests to reach a specified goal.
Students became socially responsible and empathic towards others.
Students raised their level of awareness of the problems they face.
Students learned that they have a major role in helping their neighborhood, community, and the world.
Students felt the importance of giving and contributing to the needy.
We would also like to add how one of the students applied her learning in new contexts. She went with her family to the head of the municipality of Beirut (Lebanon’s capital) and discussed with him the idea, asking him to implement it in the city. The head of the municipality was amazed by the idea and promised her a visit to the school to discuss it further.
Finally, we would like to share some of the feedback/testimonials of parents and experts in the field (which were published to HIS social media network):
Parent A: We are very thrilled with the students’ work. We were able to feel the change at home. Reina was so enthusiastic about the project. This experience built her personality and this is very essential in life. Other than knowledge and creativity, building a well-rounded individual is what we need in life.
Parent B: The exhibition’s idea is amazing especially that it highlighted the students’ abilities. The experience taught them that through determination, great will, and cooperation, they can support their society with an applicable idea especially that we are in need of ideas to save our environment. We hope that together, with our kids, we’ll be able to develop their idea and make our community a better place.
Parent C: The division of roles and the career orientation the students were exposed to develop their personalities and guided them already towards what they like to be when they grow up.
IB Consultant: Looking around at your exhibition, I see a true representation of students’ learning, authentic research, and hands-on experimentation activities. The community service component is just remarkable. That is something that could become a movement.
For a clearer explanation and live evidence of the journey, kindly watch the video of the PYP exhibition: