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TTE students learn what it means to “Lean on Me”

By Lynne Marsala Basche; photos courtesy of Timber Trail Elementary

Timber Trail Elementary (TTE) third graders participated in an exciting economics and civics project as part of project based learning.  The project “Lean on Me” used the Douglas County School District’s World Class Outcomes to take learning beyond the traditional classroom by “adopting” four families from the Crisis Center of Castle Rock this holiday season.

Concepts such as “analyze characteristics of effective citizenship,” “make sense of problem and persevere in solving them,” and “create meaning strategically in reading, writing and listening” became more manageable for TTE students to understand when they were tasked with answering the question of “How can we as active citizens of Castle Pines help those in our community who are less fortunate?”

TTE third graders took ownership of the Lean on Me project and got their families involved.  With an ambitious goal of raising $800 to $1,000 per class, teachers and students brainstormed ideas of how the kids could earn money at home by doing extra chores, walking the dog, shoveling snow and even digging in between couch cushions for change!  The students also held a school-wide bake sale and sold baked goods their families contributed for the event.

In addition to taking ownership of the adopted families and experiencing the positive effects of giving and helping those in need, real-life math was incorporated into the project.  Teachers worked with the students to add and subtract decimals, divide money raised to determine the actual amount spent on items and create budgets.  The students also shopped ads from Walmart and Target to learn how to find the best deals in order to maximize their spending.

The four third grade classes raised a total of $4,500 from their efforts.  With lists of wants and needs from the four families (a total of 12 children and 4 mothers), the students, along with parent volunteers and teachers, went shopping.  The four “adopted” families will not only receive items on their lists, but they will also enjoy a holiday meal, as well as gas and grocery gift cards.

Third grade teacher Kimberly Jester said the students were engaged, invested and excited throughout the project.  Using grade-appropriate concepts so that students learn and recognize information that they can take away and apply to real life is just the experience that Jester believes will stay with the kids for a lifetime.



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