by Linda Spahr
Program Manager, Lead2Feed.org
In the Lead2Feed Student Leadership Program, middle and high school students find a need in their community and “feed” it by planning and executing an action project. Take a look at these examples:
Lead2Feed is a free program that has attracted more than a million students and over 6,500 educators across all 50 states. Entering our 7th year, Lead2Feed has success stories across diverse student populations. From the team of four students in Missouri to the team of 1400 students in Virginia, each school chooses how to implement the lessons. Special needs students uncover their leadership skills and gain confidence through the steps of the program. Business education honors students complete the curriculum as their Capstone Project, like those in Larry Ambriz’ class at Los Altos High School, CA. And every setting in between offers a story of success from a real teacher and their transformed students. See more examples at Lead2Feed.org/ProjectIdeas.
The Lead2Feed curriculum aligns well with the new Framework for High Quality Project Based Learning:
2. Authenticity. Classroom learning can often feel theoretical. When students lead their own community service projects, they have an opportunity to directly engage with real-world issues that have received national attention. Students at Miami’s Design and Architecture Senior High sought to address the issue of mental health that has consumed the nation’s psyche through a project called “No More Stalling.” They created signs for school bathroom stalls with hotlines for tough issues students may be facing. “The class of 2021 was transformed into problem solvers and they emerged with a vision,” says DASH teacher Mrs. Zudannie Nuñez-Hernandez. Using the model and product developed by DASH students, the Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo committed to placing the Hotline Sentra boards in all 40,000 bathroom stalls in the district.
3. Public Product. As students move through the Lead2Feed lessons, they produce a solid, written action plan, a marketing campaign, and other components to set and achieve a big goal. And, of course, the project and its outcomes produce a public story which the team will learn to share via traditional and social media.
4. Collaboration. Students work in teams in each Lead2Feed project. Collaboration skills are refined through communication, creativity and critical thinking. Before completing the Lead2Feed program, only 27 percent of participating students felt that they could work well with others, only 18 percent believed they could develop effective solutions to problems, and only 16 percent felt they could communicate clearly and concisely with their peers. After completing the program, these numbers rose to 55 percent, 49 percent and 48 percent respectively.
5. Project Management. This skill is the heart of the program, taught as students develop, practice and refine their leadership skills. Each student on a team learns leadership by leading the team in their area of skill or talent. Kylee, a student at Menchville High School, VA, said on her reflection “Lead2Feed helped has helped me to realize the importance of using my voice and knowing when to be a leader instead of a follower.”
Teams create and market their project, implement and measure the project’s success, and then define sustainable steps for the project to continue or be repeated. Learning to market their project teaches students to bring in participants from their school, community and engage others through social media.
6. Reflection. Throughout the lessons, and at the end of a completed project, there are structured reflection activities. Reflection also includes recognition and celebration. Students often see reflection as criticism so we want to reinforce the positive evaluation and appreciation for the work of the team. They also learn to include others who contributed to the project in their recognition celebration.
Our Newest Curriculum
We invite you to take a look at Lead2Feed’s newest offering: the 12-lesson Now Go Lead curriculum. The 36 activity modules can be taught at a pace that works for you and your students. We believe that the combination of PBL and leadership skills development provide a solid base for students to be leaders for life.
Each year, through the Lead2Feed Challenge, teams can enter their work and win up to $10,000 for their charity partner or their school. Not only is the program free to educators, we want to reward teams and invest in their projects and their communities. Join us today and be a part of the leadership movement!
Want to learn more about PBL? Check out our books.