Photo Credit: Students Clare and Kristen at St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School in Washington D.C.
As teachers, when your students explore a new concept in the classroom you want them to think critically about it and not just memorize facts. For Tim Coleman, a service learning teacher at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School in Washington D.C., that meant coming up with a creative project that would challenge his middle school students to really engage with the issue of hunger and consider its global impact.
Tim decided to teach his students about hunger within the framework of a medium they are bombarded with everyday: advertising. Students were broken up into small groups to facilitate collaboration and tasked with designing a new advertising campaign for the World Food Programme. They could be as creative as they liked with their advertisements, incorporating methods from photography to text, so long as they achieved the simple but challenging goal of inspiring people to care about hunger.
Tim started the lesson by guiding his students through a recent article in The Washington Post on food waste to highlight how personal, everyday behaviours are linked to global problems like hunger. In turn, he hoped to empower his students to understand they could be part of the solution.
After researching the issue on WFP’s interactive hunger map and hunger factsheet, the students got to work. They played with colour and imagery and fine-tuned their messaging. They debated how to send a message about hunger that would inspire their audience to do something, rather than overwhelm them with helplessness.
“The best part for me was watching their thinking as they navigated some of these choices,” Tim said. “One young woman even debated the ethical dilemmas inherent in advertising, asking reflectively whether it was unethical to change a colour photo to black-and-white to further elicit sympathy in her advertisement. “
A student’s comprehension of new material can be measured by her ability to synthesize. Breaking hunger down into simple, relatable messages, that’s just what these students did. Some paired powerful images with just a line or two of text; others still created comic-like storytelling to simply but powerfully sketch out the problem of hunger on the sides of subway cars.
“Our goal is to shed light on the serious issue of undernourishment in children,” said students Kate and William who designed an ad for parents commuting on the subway. “Parents will be able to relate to the advertisement and will hopefully make the important choice to make a small sacrifice for a huge cause.”
Throughout the process, students did much more than learn about hunger. They explored first-hand how their knowledge, creativity, and perspective could drive global efforts to solve it.
“We hope the ad will touch the hearts of our audience and inspire them to help the World Food Programme,” students Lauren and Drew said.
You can bring Tim’s lesson to your classroom with our new teaching resource, “Designing An End To Hunger.”
“I was most amazed by the engagement the students had with this project,” Tim said.
How are you teaching hunger? Email Ali.Goldstein@WFP.org and your story could be featured here.