Project Strong: Empowerment through Health Education for Elementary-school Girls in a Pakistani Public School
For my capstone experience, I designed a project-based learning (PBL) unit for implementation as an after-school enrichment program in an urban, low-income girls’ public school in Karachi, Pakistan, specifically, Government Girls’ School (G.G.S) Chanacer Goth, a school at which I used to teach. The project is designed with a two-fold objective: (1) To enable participants to become independent, empowered, self-confident learners who possess the skills they need for out-of-school success, such as creativity, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and technology use; and (2) to help participants understand what a healthy lifestyle looks like and how to practice it. This essay narrates the rationale for the unit design. I first highlight the need for curricular intervention, by discussing the context of the school and community. Building off of insights about the failures of the explicit and implicit curriculum taught at the school, I suggest ways in which these could be reimagined to actually empower students. I then make a case for using health and nutrition as a theme for such an intervention. The next part of the paper explains the various design considerations. Here, I provide detail on how backward design was used to set objectives and plan learning experiences. Then, I provide an overview of the unit, which is attached as an appendix. Specific features of the design are picked out and justified, namely its PBL structure, structured discussions, online exploration, and focus on reflection. Notions of motivation, metacognition, and transfer came into play in framing these learning experiences. Finally, I discuss the hoped-for results of this project, its limitations and some ongoing questions.