News & Blog

The Power in Problem Solving

Highlands School

Community Meetings are a long-standing tradition here at Highlands. Each Highlands class from kindergarten through 8th grade has the opportunity to present a special project to the entire Highlands community. It’s an effective way for students to hone their public speaking skills and become experts in the subject at hand. Each class selects a unique topic of their choosing. Then, students spend a great deal of time and effort brainstorming their ideas, working on their projects, and practicing their presentations. It is a huge responsibility, and our students take it very seriously.

That’s why there was a bit of a problem recently in Ms. Jenkins’ 2nd grade class when they found out another class was planning to present on their exact topic. Now, Ms. Jenkins’ class was faced with a dilemma. They needed a new and unique idea – and they needed it fast. Instead of simply making an executive decision and deciding a new topic for the class, which would have saved a great deal of time, Ms. Jenkins let the students do the work. As she said, “It would have been much easier for me to tell them what to do, but it’s more powerful for them to solve the problem on their own.”

Together, the students brainstormed new topics for their “Plan B” and discussed the pros and cons of each one. As part of a responsive classroom, Ms. Jenkins provided the framework and guided the discussion, but ultimately, left the decision up to the students. This creative problem solving was a team effort. Not only did it ensure every student was invested in the topic, but it also allowed them to refine their critical thinking skills.

The students reached a collective decision to focus on their social-emotional action items of the week. They thought through how to include every student in the presentation – both in-person and virtual students. Then, wrote their scripts, practiced their portions, and filmed the meeting – all in three days! Their hard work and discussion resulted in an engaging and powerful meeting for the Highlands Community. Job well done, Ms. Jenkins’ 2nd grade class!

Click here to watch their community meeting.
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Highlands School, 4901 Old Leeds Road, Birmingham, AL 35213, (205) 956-9731
Highlands School's 'whole child' approach to education and commitment to academic excellence, creative expression, and leadership development prepare and motivate students in grades 4k through 8 to make a positive difference in an ever-changing world. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Highlands School holds dual accrediation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Southern Associations of Independent Schools (SAIS).

For more information, visit www.highlandsschool.org.