Kids look up to Action Heroes for a reason. Because they do the right thing. There is a simple formula of good vs bad and good wins out. The story line of authentic action and student generated service learning within education is a bit more tricky. It is very easy to gloss over the essential element of character education and citizenship learning and turn it into ineffectual but happy bake sales. Two years ago, Jeff and I observed that action was really obsolete from our own school documentation. From planners, to assessments and reflections we had assumed that action would simply generate from the protagonists of our learning community. Our assumptions were wrong.
I think every teacher envisions inspiring their students to make a difference in and to the world. So we needed to take action ourselves! We devised an evil plan (AKA qualitative research study) to do a bit of investigation.
Our data suggested that we did indeed need to explicitly teach the skills to take action, to model the behaviors associated with taking action, and to plan for how we anticipated action might come about as a result of the inquiry.
To aid in this process Jeff and I decided to create an action phase document that details how the skills could be developed throughout a student’s learning journey in the PYP. This document is like Batman's cave of secrets. The document moves students from teacher-guided action in the younger years to independent, skilful and sustained action in grade 5 or beyond. But we knew this wouldn't be enough- kids wanted to see a hero in action to be inspired! So, as we couldn't afford the Batmobile and because we are geeky teachers, we wrote a book. But you know, what's a book these days without a cool website full of resources and an interactive community? Yup, we made that for teachers and learners too.
We had become Action Heroes!!
Image citation: http://nicktoons.nick.com/shows/invader-zim/