TROY — A new movement has formed in the Troy community to promote animal adoption throughout the Miami Valley. Original posters soon will be popping up at businesses throughout town, promoting various local shelters and highlighting facts and trivia to influence the cause.
Such noble efforts may call to mind a committee of calculated working professionals; you may be surprised to discover it is, in fact, the work of second graders at Concord Elementary.
The project is being orchestrated by second grade teacher Kristi Ward, who is conducting it as part of a lesson to teach independence and critical thinking.
“This is called a problem-based learning lesson,” Ward said. “The point of it is to create a learning environment where the students lead the project, and brainstorm some kind of problem that we want to solve. The students brainstormed, and they voted on helping the community solve the problem of overpopulated animal shelters and foster homes.
“The point of the lesson is to create an authentic situation, and the kids thought of it all. I just facilitated the process.”
Ward explained that the students rolled out the project step-by-step, first taking the time to understand what their cause was and why it was worth the effort.
“They thought of how they wanted to address the problem, which was just letting people know why it’s good to adopt and where to adopt from,” Ward explained. “They talked about ways to persuade, such as picking pictures or listing reasons for adoption that would be persuasive.”
Ward’s second-graders conducted research on Chromebooks, contacted various local shelters for information, and even decided to create a Facebook page to promote the project.
“I run the Facebook page, but they choose what I post,” Ward said. “We’re posting dogs that need homes. We’re posting low-cost clinics that people can use in the area. I’ve also posted pictures of them working on the project along the way.
“The page was their idea, and not something I saw coming. They even thought of its title.”
As their posters came together, students wrote letters to numerous local businesses, requesting permission to hang posters at their locations to spread awareness on animal adoption. Businesses include Kroger, Walmart, Meijer, Ark & Echo, and multiple Winans locations.
While some businesses have already agreed to get involved, others have not yet responded, and Ward sees this as a healthy part of the lesson.
“If any businesses choose not to participate, the kids will have to ask, ‘Well, what do we do now?” Ward said. “It makes it authentic. At that point, they’ll have to decide, ‘Do we let it go? Do we try somewhere else?’ It’ll allow the kids to think in a whole new way. We’ll see what happens as we hear back.”
The end goal for Concord’s second graders is to see their work increase local animal adoption.
“It’ll be hard to completely tell how successful our project was, but we’re hoping to hear from people going to shelters because they saw our posters,” Ward said. “We plan to check in with shelters to ask if they see any increase or if anyone has mentioned our posters. The kids are hoping someone will be there because of them.”
Ward admits that the most delightful aspects of the project have been the ways in which it subverted her expectations.
“I had an idea about how this would go, but that’s largely not how it went, and that’s okay,” Ward said. “I pictured more involvement from people at the shelters, having more people come in and talk to the class.
“The kids felt that they could research and find these things themselves, which I think is empowering. They didn’t feel they needed someone to tell them what to do; they just figured it out on their own.”
For more information, visit Puppy Power and Kitty Cuteness — Finding Furrever Homes on Facebook.