Students Lead Screen Free Week at AGC for I.B. Exhibition Project

Students Lead Screen Free Week at AGC for I.B. Exhibition Project

This year I have had the pleasure of working with a group of four 5th graders who are working on the culmination of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme through their Exhibition Project. The exhibition is a chance for students to study, research, and report out on a topic of their choosing. The students I am working with choose to take a look at the way technology (specifically screens) and social media impact humans. It has been a joy to work alongside 4 talented, motivated and well rounded students. As part of the exhibition (as with any unit of inquiry) the students needed to think of a way to act on the new knowledge they gained from their research. Enter screen free week.

Screen free week, May 4-10, 2015, is sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. According to the campaign the goal is to encourage “….children, families, communities around the world (to) swap digital entertainment for the joys of life beyond the screen.” After talking with the students I have been working with they decided to promote screen free week school wide.

Here is a look at an email they sent to our entire staff:

“We are asking classes to make a commitment to reduce their screen time this week. It can be as simple as not playing a single video game, or as hard as no screens for the whole week whatsoever. On Friday, we will be celebrate with a school wide screen free time at 2:30-3:00 for those that wish to participate. You can spend this time doing an outdoor activity, an art project, a read aloud, yoga, scavenger hunt, or other screen free activities.”
I would encourage you to join the movement. Think less about being completely “screen-free” but rather to have a conversation with your family about ways we can reduce our screen time this week. One of my student’s plan is to not watch any tv except the Bulls and Blackhawks games. Another student has chosen to not use their tablet at all this week. Another has chosen not to play “Clash of Clans.” I personally am doing no TV (except one Netflix a night.) Staff from all grade levels have jumped on board as well. School Coordinator Berenice Salas, whose daughter also attends AGC, told our student organizers “Our family does not have a tv in the living room because we play board games, dance or read together. I love this initiative your group is taking on! Violeta’s awesome teacher talked to her about screen-free week and our family committed to zero tablets all week. Keep up the incredible work… Your message is spreading and is impactful!” My fellow 4th grade teacher, Anna Krzyzanowski told the students “Fourth grade is loving the idea! We’ve come up with some goals for ourselves…and we even had someone say they would be screen free for an entire month! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for going screen free!”
On behalf of these four students, I encourage you to get away from the screen that you are inevitably using to read this post and go outside, do an art project, and swap digital entertainment for the joys of life beyond the screen!
– 4th Grade Teacher Trey Thompson

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