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The Contribution Kit

The Contribution Kit provides activities and tools to support teachers, students, and families to transform learning and develop well-being.

Photo of Joanne McEachen
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The learning outcomes that matter for all people globally are self-understanding, connection, knowledge, and competency. When these come together, we add to the world. And that leads to well-being, meaning, and fulfillment.

This is the case for contributive learning, which simply means learning to add to the world. There are so many ways we contribute as humans. And in order to contribute in our own way to teachers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, we wanted to bring them contributive learning – in a package they could use with their students and others in either a remote learning or a classroom environment.

The Contribution Kit can help students of any age:

understand themselves,
form meaningful connections,
better access curricular knowledge, and
use what they’re learning in life-changing ways.

The first four modules of the Contribution Kit have already been developed and are freely accessible. The modules are:

1. Self-Understanding. Understand who you are, how you fit into the world, and how you can contribute.

2. Connection. Connect with others, your environments, and the world.

3. Knowledge. Develop the knowledge you need to find lifelong success and well-being.

4. Competency. Develop the competency to use what you learn.

Each of these modules includes insights, reflective prompts, activities, and tools. They first invite teachers to start with themselves, by reflecting on the questions and activities on their own. It’s a great way for teachers to prioritize their own well-being amid recent changes, challenges, and uncertainty.

Then, with the same set of questions and activities, teachers can implement with students and families. Here are some examples of questions and activities in the Self-Understanding module:

Questions to spark your thinking
What are some of your interests, passions, and hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
How would you describe your family? Your culture?
What are some of the life experiences that have impacted you most? How have they impacted your perspectives, viewpoints, and way of life?

Activities to spark your learning
Find three objects that best represent who you are. Why did you choose them?
Ask a family member to describe their life growing up. Then, write a story about that family member’s life.
Write down three times in your life when you made someone else’s life better. Also write three times you brought someone down. For all six, why did you do it? How did you feel about it?

With roughly 40 reflective questions and 25 learning activities per module, teachers and students can continue to turn to them to develop self-understanding, connection, knowledge, and competency, whether they’re learning at home or in the classroom.

Along with providing ways to develop contributive learning outcomes, each module also provides tools to measure them. These tools are called Learning Progressions, since they describe progression along a continuum. Two versions of the Learning Progressions are included: one for students, and one for adults. Students can use their version of the Learning Progression to self-measure for each dimension. And teachers and other adults can use their version for the same. Since contributive learning outcomes matter all throughout people’s lives, we all get the chance to develop them together.

In addition to the Learning Progressions, each module also includes an Action Plan to help learners think about ways to improve, come up with actions to get there, and track progress as it happens.

In total, the Contribution Kit will include 10 modules, with modules 5-10 more deeply exploring the “how to” and “why” behind contributive learning.

The COVID-19 crisis makes our current need clear: we all need to learn how to add to the world. When we do, we’ll find well-being, meaning, and fulfillment. And nothing in our lives is more important than that. Because meaning and fulfillment is the new human wealth – and contribution to humanity is the way that we earn it.

The solution for schools is contributive learning, and we hope the Contribution Kit can help guide their journeys.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Three things. The first is standardization. We aren’t all the same, and we shouldn’t be treated like it. Kids don’t always need the same things at the same time. They have to be understood and celebrated as individuals with their own ways of finding success in the world. The second is inequity. Schools will only achieve equity if they focus on equitable academic outcomes – self-understanding, connection, knowledge, and competency. There are so many ways we can add to the world. And when schools let kids shine – in their own ways – they will. The third is disconnection/disengagement. Students’ disengagement is caused by a disconnect between who they are and what they’re supported to learn. If we step back and look first at who students are, how they’re connected, what they want to know, and how they can use learning, we can design much more relevant, engaging, and meaningful learning experiences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I’ve worked in education for over 30 years, as a teacher, principal, government leader, and global consultant. From the beginning, my aim has been to help kids discover who they are, how they fit into the world, and how they can contribute with their unique talents. With the COVID-19 crisis, teachers and school leaders started calling out not only for insights on teaching remotely, but for new ways entirely of engaging with students to support them in all the ways they need to be supported. The Contribution Kit was a way I could add to the teaching and learning that’s happening globally, with the hope that by learning what it takes to contribute our kids can solve, and prevent, future crises.

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

Originally from New Zealand and currently residing in Seattle, Washington, USA.


Join the conversation:

Photo of David Enders

Thanks so much for sharing, Joanne!
You seem to already have a well thought-out methodology and program, and I applaud both the initiative to help children find a purpose and the apparent passion you have for helping students learn. The example questions are powerful ones and I can imagine they will help students reflect on themselves. I am thinking if this maybe could be made even more interactive by allowing users of your program to share their own "kits" with each other, compiling insights, expertise, and knowledge in a sort of virtual or even physical kit that could then be passed on to the next student, creating a network of mentors and students. Then, they would really be "contribution kits." Curious to hear your thoughts on this. I would also love to hear more about how the contribution kit idea can be popularized/spread?


Photo of Joanne McEachen

Thanks, David – that is fantastic feedback! When I designed the Contribution Kit it was a “gut” response to the educators who were calling out for something new and meaningful during these challenging times. In essence, I wanted to contribute in the best way I could! The response has been overwhelming, with downloads in some 15 countries and encouraging requests for more ideas and support.

I love your idea, and that’s what we’re hoping for! We’re hoping through OpenIDEO to get more exposure for the Kit, spread it more widely, and gather learning evidence from those using it, so that every child can better understand who they are, how they fit into the world, and how they can contribute to humanity. Thanks again, and we hope we can make the idea a reality.

Photo of David Enders

I hope so too!

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