The results were fascinating. In every group, the students were thoroughly engaged and personally invested. Their analysis of the comments already posted at the site was particularly interesting. Though there were some slight differences in the vocabulary they used to describe it, they consistently identified the same themes recurring in most of the comments:
It was also interesting to notice that the students’ own thoughts about what matters to them tended to fall into these same themes, with family being by far the most commonly mentioned idea.
I think what I found most exciting about this was seeing the kids debating the relative worth of all of the things different people thought were important. Their insights were rather mature, actually. When I first planned this, I was concerned that the students might not take it seriously. But they did, and when I closed the class period by recommending they have the same conversation with their parents, they seemed eager to do so.
The power of this activity came from the way the students could readily access opinions of people from around the world. What I would really love to do is take this even deeper by sharing their work with other students in other schools. If you have used the 1000 Things That Matter web site and you’re interested in sharing your students’ work with mine, post a comment here.