Posted by Bill Ferriter on Tuesday, 08/12/2014
Try this: Go to Google. Type in "natural sugar versus added sugar."
Really. Do it.
Here's what you will find.
See the fifth post down? The one with #sugarkills in the title? The one just behind the post from Harvard and the post from The Food Network?
It was written by Daniel -- an eighth grader at my school and a leader of a pretty motivated group of middle schoolers who are out to change the world. They have been working to raise awareness about the sugar in the foods that we eat on a regular basis for the last two years. There are 113 posts on their blog -- all ungraded work generated during lunch time. In less than two years, they've gotten over 20,000 page views from 117 different countries and all 50 states.
Not bad for kids, right?
Daniel was in my room yesterday during a school-wide enrichment period. While poking around our site stats, he noticed that "natural versus added sugar" was a search term that often brings people to our blog. He wanted to know how high his post would be listed in Google's search results.
When he saw that it was fifth -- FIFTH out of 21 MILLION results -- he was completely blown away. Knowing that HIS content -- his approachable description of the difference between natural and added sugars -- is ranked just two slots lower than a bit from HARVARD opened his eyes, I think, to just how influential he could be.
Ask him, though, and you'll find out that blogging doesn't motivate Daniel. In fact, he MIGHT not even realize that he's a blogger. I'm not sure I've ever used that term with the kids in our club. They just think we've got a great website with a funny web address.
(Seriously. It's funny. Read it as if it were three separate words: http://sugarkills.us)
Knowing that others are learning from HIM motivates Daniel. Knowing that HIS voice can help others to live a healthier life motivates Daniel. Knowing that HE really does have power and that he really CAN drive change motivates Daniel.
THAT's what I love about cause-driven learning experiences, y'all -- and THAT's why I want to find ways to get MORE kids involved in opportunities to drive REAL change in the world beyond our classroom.
No offense to the entire universe, but I'm not trying to prepare kids for colleges and careers. I'm preparing kids for colleges, careers and COMMUNITIES. I want my students to take an action orientation towards the world that they live in. I want them to see problems and know that THEY can be the solvers even if they aren't old enough to drive.
Gimmie a keyboard and an internet connection and I'll show kids how they can change the world. You can too.
Related Radical Reads:
Interview with the #SUGARKILLS Gang
My Kids, a Cause and Our Classroom Blog
Technology Gives Kids Power