Lloyd Bochner and Lynne Finelli
“My students were transported to another world with Girl Rising…they were gifted empathy and a worldview much different than their own.” - Lloyd Bochner
School: Park View Middle School, Cranston, RI
Subject: Social Studies and ELA
Number of Students: 93
What was your goal in bringing Girl Rising into your classroom?
Lloyd: Girl Rising was an extension of a one month human rights project that was collaboratively done with the ELA teacher on my team. The goal was to extend to our students a worldview of gender inequity and strength at the same time.
Lynne: We wanted to extend our joint ELA & Social Studies unit on Human Rights, and Girl Rising was the perfect way to reinforce what our students had been researching. I also wanted to bring pieces of the world to our classroom. We have found that students have become increasingly more disconnected, especially during Covid, and viewing these films, along with the "Where are they now" pieces, helped our students feel connected to places they may not have even known existed. Our ultimate goal was to expose students to girls who were making a difference in their own lives, and to the professionals at Girl Rising, (Molly Blank and Kayce Jennings), who have gone forward in life making a difference through activism.
How did you use and teach Girl Rising? Please be as specific as possible.
Lynne: We used Girl Rising as the central focus of a one-week unit. Molly Blank was able to help us kick off the unit by introducing our students to Girl Rising as an organization. We showed Wadley, Suma, Nasro, and Senna to our students. We went through the Middle School Module with them. We utilized a Jamboard to ask the students what they did not like about school, then we asked them to comment on some things they feel fortunate to have in school after viewing the girls' stories. That discussion was amazing. So many 13 and 14 year olds admitted that they viewed their own school experiences through different eyes after seeing the GR videos. We also asked students to create a meme about educating girls after they had viewed every story.
Was your Girl Rising unit self-contained or part of another unit?
This was a week-long extension of a one month Human Rights unit.
Which Girl Rising chapters did you screen?
Wadley from Haiti
Suma from Nepal
Senna from Peru
Nasro from Dadaab (Brave Girl Rising)
Which Girl Rising resources did you use?
Teens Rising Together Online Module
Did you create additional materials?
We used a Jamboard to discuss issues students have with their current school situation.
Did you use any outside resources?
We had a guest speaker from South Africa who has worked with Save the Children and now works with premature babies being born in underdeveloped countries. The students were able to make the connection between education and fewer premature births, which they learned through the Girl Rising Module.
From your perspective as an educator, what is the strength of Girl Rising?
Lloyd: The strength of Girl Rising is the amazing videos produced. These videos bring our students to places they can’t imagine, to meet girls of such strength and resolve. I believe our students could somewhat relate to them, and were taught empathy and determination with the stories of these girls. Other strengths include a module well developed for middle schoolers.
Lynne: The strength of Girl Rising is the impact of the videos. Our students were, at times, speechless while viewing the paths these young women had to take to get what is given to them in the United States. The accessibility and amount of materials is also very conducive to taking as much or as little time as needed or wanted on a given topic.
What was the impact of the Girl Rising experience on your students?
Lloyd: My students were transported to another world with Girl Rising. Situations that they couldn’t even imagine. Maybe some of my students had some things in common with these girls. But ultimately my students were gifted empathy and a worldview much different than their own.
Lynne: We knew that they felt strongly about the girls, but I felt this said it best... One of our male students, who is not overly excited about school, told us he wanted to start a Go Fund Me for the girls he saw in the Girl Rising videos.
Did the experience of teaching Girl Rising affect your teaching practice in any way?
Lloyd: Girl Rising impacted my teaching in several ways. First, it was truly inspiring to teach this unit. Secondly, we are all beaten down by the pandemic and virtual teaching, so it was tremendous to have access to professionals in the field, from Girl Rising to join us on our journey. I want to do more as well!!
Will you recommend Girl Rising to your colleagues?
Lynne: I have already recommended Girl Rising to my colleagues. My Social Studies colleague and I shared our experiences with other teachers in our building. Our students also discussed what they learned with our students. It felt so good to be a part of bringing this conversation to our school. I have recommended Girl Rising to my colleagues. I have told them how the videos and discussions moved our students, especially during this time of distance learning where most of us are trying desperately to engage our students from behind a mask or behind a computer screen. I feel this gives a connection for all students.
Lynne and Lloyd asked some of his students how Girl Rising impacted them. Here are their responses:
If you were going to tell your friend the most important thing that you learned from Girl Rising, what would it be?
The three most important things I’ve learned during this project are, to always stand up and speak up because the world won’t change itself. Two, to be grateful and never take anything for granted. Lastly, always educate yourself and work hard because education is power, and being lazy won’t get you anywhere.
Has the Girl Rising experience inspired you to be more active in your community? How?
I would try to start small, taking on too much at once has never accomplished anything. if you have a goal you need to slowly achieve it, you can’t rush into something either.
To stop human hate. I wish for everyone to be equal. All races, sexualities, genders. Everyone. It makes me sad and mad that people still get discriminated against for the stupidest things. What you are doesn’t define whether or not you get to have basic human rights. But if I’m being specific then probably advocate for women's rights and LGBTQ+ rights and make a change in the world.
If I could change one thing in the world it would be to make sure every kid got a fair and equal education. This way future adults could be prepared and set up to make a good future for themselves. To spread awareness and educate other people like me. Those would be the first steps I would take. After being educated we can go on to change the world.