Fifth grade students at Carrollwood Day School in Tampa, Florida, selected a project focusing on the impact of having parents in the military. This project was for an extended, collaborative inquiry, known as the Exhibition. Exhibition is a culminating experience marking the transition from elementary school to middle school. The students learned what it is like have a parent in the military and the impact it has on their lives. The youth completed a video and a presentation to help educate others in the community. They also oversized the “Deployment is not a Game” and played it with visitors. The youth also had an area where the kids that came in could pack a back pack and put in a postcard.
Exhibition is a completely student led project. They identify a local, national or global problem or issue that they could become passionate about. Students have to apply research, organizational, and higher-level thinking skills as they locate and analyze information and data to help them answer their lines of inquiry. Students have to share with others what they have learned and must work together as a class to take action to make a difference related to their chosen topic.
This year, Mrs. Monty's fifth grade students decided on three lines of inquiry as they focused on the impact of having parents in the military: what it is like being a military child, benefits of having family in the military, and ways to support kids with family in the military. They researched how children are affected when their parents are in the military, why are they affected, and what could they do to help. The students looked at the benefits and disadvantages of having parents in the military and being military kids.
Students researched all they could about the impact of having parents in the military. Through their research, students developed questions that fueled additional research. They developed ways to present their research to the school community to educate and raise awareness. Mrs. Monty's students contacted numerous organizations throughout the country. The class has had several guest speakers including military personnel from MacDill Air Force Base; an Army Reservist with her son; a grownup military child who is now a military wife and mother; and Connie Mirrop, OMK Regional Coordinator along with her SOMK Group.
Because of a novel students read and one of the guest speakers, Mrs. Monty's students were motivated to reach out to students attending schools on military bases. This way they could learn what it is like being a military child. Students contacted youth at Tinker Elementary located on MacDill Air Force Base and schools located on Fort Bragg (North Carolina), Fort Benning (Georgia), and Fort Stewart (Georgia). They also reached out to US military students from five schools in four countries overseas. Students received packages filled with letters from students at Tinker Elementary and also received numerous emails from other locations.
When Mrs. Monty's students learned that April is the Month of the Military Child and about OMK's Purple Up!, they were immediately motivated to take action. They requested and received permission from Mrs. Buscemi, their elementary principal to participate. Mrs. Monty's class worked together to create flyers to distribute throughout the Carrollwood Day School community and the Tampa Bay area promoting Purple Up! with OMK. Students worked really hard to spread the word throughout Tampa Bay for people to wear purple to show their support and appreciation for military kids. One student was even successful in persuading his younger sibling's principal to allow her students to participate in Purple Up as well!
After learning about Purple Up! from Darrin Allen, OMK, students realized it coincided with the Funtastic Friday (an afternoon of field day activities). Students quickly worked together to devise a plan to incorporate Purple Up! with the afternoon's events. Students contacted their physical education coach and received permission to operate a booth distributing grape Kool-Aid to all students participating in the Funtastic Friday events. Coach Wodrich quickly agreed to allow students to operate their booth to raise awareness and show support and appreciation for all military kids. Purple Up! was a huge success at Carrollwood Day School! Elementary students, middle school students, high school students, and even faculty showed their support by wearing purple clothing. Students were thrilled to see everybody showing their support for our military kids!
Mrs. Monty's students also set a goal to fill 150 Hero Packs while working with OMK. Students created a flyer to distribute throughout the Carrollwood Day School community requesting donations of stuffed animals to pack in the Hero Packs. Students also developed letters to send to businesses to see if they would be willing to donate any stuffed animals for this incredibly important cause. Students immediately began handwriting the letters to the children that will receive the Hero Packs. Students set a goal of thirteen letters for each student.
Fifth graders learned a lot about what it is like to be a military youth. They showed their support for the sacrifices the military youth make as they serve. The students helped educate not only the other students but the community. They raised awareness as they promoted Purple Up! Day and during their campaign to assemble Hero Packs.