KIVA - Micro Loans
KIVA in the classroom
I had spent some time looking at the KIVA site for potential borrowers and read over some of their projects and stories. Each one was a compelling narrative as to why they were deserving. A few thoughts rushed through my mind as I read these stories, how can I get more people involved in this? How can anyone decide who is most deserving?
When meeting with the teacher today, those two questions popped up as we were planning the lesson around the students using their grant money to fund KIVA projects. We first proposed having a small group in each class make the decision as to where the money should go. Then we began to realize the potential impact of the decision to change lives shouldn't be limited to a few students, but should be opened up for all students in the class.
The first question is difficult, which led to the second question. We know there are thousands of potential projects and people on KIVA looking for assistance, so how do you decide which to fund? Should this be left up to a small group for each class? We decided that this was too important a decision to allow just a few students to have this power. This led to the discussion of the teacher narrowing down the projects to a more manageable size for each class. Some may like this, others may say this gives the teacher a lot of power in the process. We decided that each class would get to choose from about 20 projects and with 5 classes this would still be about 100 potential projects. Yes this isn't a perfect solution, but to leave it completely open would have made it unmanageable for students in our time frame.
Next, how do we narrow the projects down from 20 to a number that can be openly and vigorously discussed as a class? How can you engage all students in this project? This is where we came up with two options for moving from 20 down to about 5 topics.
Option 1- put students into groups and allow them to select the project they would like to fund. This would mean that all students in the group would need to agree on the decision.
Option 2- allow all students to read about each project and get into groups based on which project they would individually like to fund. This would allow groups to be formed around a topic they support. The drawback is potential for too large of a group forming around 1 of the topics, so you could have students select their first and second choice and then putting them into groups if group size became an issue.
Now that we have groups, how do we decide? We still haven't discussed the decision making process. With groups created and topics selected, we have the topics narrowed down, but still don't have a winner.
Students need to be well informed about their project and be creative in how they present. They will need to create compelling arguments, eye catching visual aids, and present with some flare. The students are all selling worth while projects, but they have to show their classmates why their project has merits beyond the others.
On thing we discussed as part of the presentations, discussion and voting was that this isn't about winners and losers. The voting should not be done based on who is in a particular group, or your desire to win. The selected project will be a little closer to their goal, but those not selected are still worthy projects that didn't get selected. The people and causes in those not funded should never be looked at in a negative light or described in such a way. All have merit, students are simply voting on which they believe are MOST deserving because they are all worth assisting.
The potential takeaways!
I am excited about this opportunity to work with these students on this project. I can't wait to update the post to share the projects that were funded. I also want to see if there are others in my department who want to work together to make this happen for others. Lastly, I hope you take something away from this and could find a way to make global connections like this for your students.
Keep working to create experiences for your students that they will never forget. They will forever be grateful for your passion to make a difference in their lives.