Poverty and Wealth

What was your driving question?

How do those in poverty survive in a world driven by wealth?

Grades Involved

6th, 7th, & 8th

What PBE principles were highlighted in this project?

Project Description

Our goal as a middle school team was to broaden our students’ knowledge of poverty within our community. We felt that demonstrating both sides, wealth and poverty, as a comparison would enhance this knowledge. Students were asked to define wealth and poverty, then reflect on the presence of each in their own lives. Students were asked to research social services within our community. Students also researched services at a global level as a comparison. Inquiry was an ongoing process throughout the project. Students were asked to design a community impact project that would benefit poverty-stricken families. Within the project, students were to create a 2-3 minute video of explanation, a sculpture representing their impact, and a presentation to be delivered to our school board. This project lasted approximately ten weeks. Excepting a week and a walk when the school was shut down due to Covid, the project was completed at school. During quarantine, students continued at home with mini lessons pertaining to the unit.

How did this project connect to your local or regional community?

West Plains, Missouri has a poverty rate of 27.6%, with a population of 12,304. As teachers, we felt it was important that our students envision a project that could aid those in poverty. We also felt it was of utmost importance to educate our students on real-world problems, in their own backyards.

How did this positively impact the community? How was it shared?

This project benefitted our community as it brought together two establishments that were willing to help those in need. Two groups created two completely different projects and through those projects combined their thoughts and reached out to our community. A foundation in our community that aids abused women and children, The Christos House, and our local cosmetology school, will be partnering to provide haircuts and general beauty sessions for the women at the Christos House, FREE of CHARGE!! Our students created their projects in our classrooms and once completed, envisioned a further connection between the two projects, making phone calls and arranging these beauty sessions.

Reflection: What was the biggest challenge? What was the most rewarding aspect of this project?

I believe our biggest challenge in this project was getting all of our students to participate and take ownership of their own part. Most of the students could make a connection within their own lives, whether it was on the impoverished or the wealthy side, but following through with each aspect of the project proved difficult for some. The rewards may have landed primarily on the teachers with this project as it created an opportunity to begin establishing place-based education projects within our school.

Any advice for a teacher or student that is implementing a PBE project for the first time?

I would recommend being patient with your students and with yourself. Be open to changes within the project as you move forward, find an outlet for students that may need more or may need less involvement with the project, and BREATHE!!! It is an exciting journey you are embarking upon, take it all in and enjoy each moment.