PBL – Bringing charity into the ESL classroom

The students in grade 5 were given a project – they had to give back. We spoke about problems around the world and what sort of things children could do to make the world a better place.

They worked as a team (the whole class was just 4 kids, so it was easy to have the whole class together), and decided on what cause they wanted to help with and how they could do it. As the teacher I simply pushed them in directions that would allow me to integrate other learning as much as possible, and targeted specific skills as they were needed.

They decided to donate money to we.org to buy a goat. They would present the charity to the entire school and then hold an activity event in which students pay to play games.

They loved it! They began working every night and every piece of free time to make their difference and get this goat. From an academic perspective it also worked well. Preparation for the speeches involved researching the charity and writing in three tenses – What did they do to check out the charity? What does the charity do? What will they do to raise money? They also had to use various styles to ensure they were presenting the facts, but also being persuasive. The opportunity to develop their public speaking skills was clear. They rehearsed, gave peer feedback, worked on pronunciation, tone of voice, eye contact and projection.

Over time, the idea developed, too. The children decided they wanted to make a little shop for others to purchase snacks and toys. This gave us the opportunity to talk about profit and loss, which brings in maths quite easily, in addition to the simple act of charging for games and counting the money. We thought about discounts for multiple purchases, and how we could offer prizes in such a way as to ensure we didn’t make a loss. We did this by giving raffle tickets as prizes, meaning that no matter how many people played, the prize cost would never rise.

The students then created marketing for the event, which they had to persuade the school principal to let them put up around the school.

They designed the games and the posters for the games, we made plans and pollution-dependent backup plans (this is Beijing) and worked out how much time they needed to set up the event, as well as how many people to help.

Then on the day the students set up the hall and managed the event, with the help of teachers manning the stands.

The rest of the students came, played and paid.

The store was sold out in the first twenty minutes.

In the end, the project raised $300 (USD) for the charity…enough for six goats!

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