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Sixth graders learn by teaching

Created: 03 June, 2012
Updated: 13 September, 2023
4 min read

Students created 15 additional information/activity booths focused on a range of topics from the environment, childhood obesity, good health/fitness, and school gardening.

Stephanie Ray is about to finish elementary school, and she said that a sixth grade project she just completed in recent days will help her better prepare for the road ahead: Middle school.

Stephanie is one of about 60 sixth grade students at Allen Elementary, in Chula Vista, who participated in the “Project Based Service Learning Bonanza” aimed at raising awareness on several key issues and involving K-6 students.

The 6th graders were divided into small groups and were given the challenge to create an exhibit or activity that was an informative, interactive, and age-appropriate program for all students.

Stephanie, who is 11, created a booth where she showed cased veggie art, in which fellow students could create their own art inspired by healthy vegetables.

“I showed them how they could try this activity at home and at the same time I told them how eating vegetables help you stay healthy,” she said. “I felt like a teacher, teaching other students.”

She said that some of the new skills she learned with this project included team work, researching new information, and sharing it with others.

“It really felt good to participate,” said Stephanie, who’s homeroom teacher is Mr. Paul Manaig.

The “Project Based Service Learning Bonanza,” which took place on May 22nd, was the idea of sixth grade teacher Amy Ferhart. She said that she wanted students to learn new research and presentation skills while doing something positive for the whole school. The end-result was a school-wide event that everyone enjoyed, she said.

“This event is a testimony that if you follow your dream and vision, you can accomplish a lot,” she said. “These students put their hearts into it. There were moments of doubt, but it really came out great. We’ve been receiving a lot of compliments from parents and other teachers.”

Allen Elementary School is located in Bonita, but most of the students are bused from nearby communities. It is a diverse school, and this event helped draw communities together, according to Ferhart.

Many parents volunteered to help organize the event.

“It was interesting seeing kids working together,” said parent Charlotte Bullard, whose daughter Carolyn Bernal, participated in the festival. “Students learned to meet deadlines, they were really excited working outside the usual textbooks.”

Among the activities at the event were putting on a student-led theatrical production of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” to promote literacy and raise awareness on the environment. Then, students created 15 additional information/activity booths focused on a range of topics from the environment, childhood obesity, good health/fitness, and school gardening.

Students had the opportunity to see hands-on visuals of the sugar content found in sodas, to dance along in a “plant walk” (instead of a cake walk), to participate in an exercise station, to paint in a large-scale community art project, to test their skills in a environmental jeopardy game (using a Smartboard), and to plant their own sunflower seeds.

Kellie Shearer, who is 12, for example, created a veggie version of the classic game of bingo.

Gabriel Flores was an actor in “The Lorax,” and he said that “these last memories of my last weeks of elementary schools will remain with me forever.”

Another student, Drake Gutierrez, had a booth where he and other classmates showed cased art created from recycled materials.

“Students were shocked to learn how much trash we throw away each year,” Drake said. “It felt really cool having to teach other kids how to recycle trash and create cool works of art.”

Drake said that, most of all, he feels more secure about moving on into middle school.

“I know that when in middle school teachers ask me to do a project like, it won’t be something new for me, it will be something I will feel confident about,” he said.