One class that I always thought would be meaningful, impactful, and highly visible to the community would be a Social Impact elective course. This would basically be a student-driven genius hour but focused heavily on the Contribution item in Section B of the 4 Shifts Protocol to include a community impact focus.

We could integrate some design thinking concepts at the beginning such as identifying a problem or challenge in the community, conducting empathy interviews, and beginning to prototype solutions. We probably would require a partnership with an external expert or organization. And there should be a highly-publicized exhibition at the end of the semester. I think that schools would see students do some PHENOMENAL work as they lean into areas of interest or concern in their local community as positive change-makers.

Such a course could occur at any grade level, but might be particularly valuable in middle or high school as students begin to search for more relevance in their school experience. I know a number of deeper learning schools that are doing similar work through teacher-created projects. These projects would be more student-initiated and -driven, and the elective course format might be a relatively easy on ramp for more traditional schools that aren’t well-versed in deeper learning but would like to start creating some different opportunities for students. In addition to building students’ efficacy as real world difference-makers, these experiences also would be fantastic additions to students’ job or college applications.

Your thoughts? Know anyone currently doing this?

Image credit: RTCA NPS, CASP Urban Trails workshop