My students in Memphis are in the middle of a huge church building project, in which they discover the wonder and awe in our world by studying the architecture and art of churches. They study many locations all over the world, learning about the people, language, culture and, of course, FOOD from each country. Then they cook a traditional dish from their specific country for our International Feast. Here, simple and fun lessons involve the students' senses, tastebuds, measuring skills (math) and scientific combinations to make the food rise or fluff, cream or stiffen, brown or simmer. As well as helping them to develop global competency as they discover new places, gain understanding of different cultures, communicate their thoughts effectively by building a wiki project, and take action by building a scale model of a church for their location.
They collaborate in groups to determine a specific location for their church. Should it be on the sea? But what if the tide comes in too high in a storm and destroys it? Or maybe on level, higher ground with good drainage? Could it be in a forest where trees would have to be removed to make the church fit? Would the town’s people want so many trees to be destroyed? So many real world issues to consider. They must always consider the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in their plans.
Finally the building begins…after my safety speeches about the proper ways to use boxcutters and hot glue guns. Once completed, the churches are displayed for the whole school to see. They then create brochures to mail to the bishop or archbishop in their chosen location so show off their work and what they have learned. Waiting for responses from the bishops takes patience, but each year we are never disappointed, receiving from the bishops congratulations, prayer cards, books, brochures and even more information about the Catholic population in the countries.
These hands-on projects help build student confidence, instill a sense of wonder and develop global competencies that can be easily implemented in any classroom, any discipline. Students are given the chance to explore and be creative, all with a specific purpose in mind. They are also able to connect school-wide by showing off their work and world-wide with the bishops in distant lands.