Fifth Graders Explore Leaders of Change!

Fifth graders have delved into a unit within the theme of Where We Are in Place and Time.  The central idea “Throughout history, there have been individuals who have been leaders of change,” provides an opportunity for students to explore change makers from different places throughout history.  

During the tuning in phase of our inquiry, students sorted famous leaders into categories based on how well they knew or had heard of the people.  This began the unit with a lot of communication. Students shared what they already knew about various people and who they didn’t know at all. Some students even went home that night and looked up some of the people they wanted to find out  more about.

During the finding out phase of the inquiry, students explored the life of Malala Yousafzai, a leader of change advocating for girls’ right to education.  Together we researched, planned and wrote a class essay. Essays focused on telling the events of the leaders’ lives through a focus on their characteristics. Students presented scenes from her life to share their learning at the PYP assembly in October.  

As students sorted out common characteristics of leaders of change, they were given six leaders of change to research in small groups.  Going through the same research cycle as the whole class, students planned and wrote group essays on leaders such as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.  Some common characteristics students proved these leaders had/have were: resilience, empathy, and bravery.

To go further in the inquiry cycle, students chose leaders of change that they individually wanted to learn more about.  In order for students to have a better idea of the various leaders of change to research, students participated in an “inside/outside circle activity” in which students shared descriptions of lives (without names) with each other.  After writing down the numbers of people they thought they’d be interested in, the names were revealed and everyone had lists of possible people for study. Now the fifth graders are researching and planning essays for leaders, such as Sejong the Great, Sukarno, Rosa Parks, and Kofi Annan.  

Students also took surveys and thought about the possibilities for their own futures.  The display in front of our classroom shares with the S.I.S. community students’ aspirations for future careers.  Please visit our fifth grade board displays to explore students’ learning and dreams!


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