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Fund for Teachers Journey: Action Research in Brazil

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    Sarah Norris

Bethany Hobbs teaches at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, MA. She was among the 2017 class of EL Education's Fund for Teachers (FFT) Fellows. Read more about FFT and what this long partnership has meant for EL Education here

What did she set out to do?

Research the ways Caiҫara on the Ilha do Cardoso in São Paulo, Brazil, meet their needs through sustainable fishing techniques and community-based governing practices to create case studies and a model action research project that supports student investigation on how to live within the 21st century while also living in balance with the environment.


"Learning the artisanal process for fishing. The mullet fish enter the brackish water of the canal from the ocean. They swim up the river and encounter the circo fixo. Once inside, they can not leave the circle."

Reflections from Bethany:

I gained so much content about the history of Cardoso Island and the people living there. In order to do this, I had to refine my skills of interviewing, note taking, and photography. I also had to develop a process for organizing all the gathered information. I stretched my capabilities to create meaningful connections between real experiences and academic study.

I will definitely change the way in which I teach the research process. I can see that action research requires more time than a typical, text-dependent research project. I will share a bigger sense of compassion for students, as it takes a great deal of effort to determine what is most important and how to emphasize what has been discovered. I will also use use more primary source documentation for instruction because I more fully understand the impact of linking a human voice to an event.

I have had many international travel experiences prior to my Fund for Teachers Fellowship, from personal vacation to leading international exchange programs. This opportunity was special because I was more alert to my observations; I knew I would need to share them with my students and use them for their learning. That accountability, provided through the encouragement of FFT, made my time in Brazil meaningful in a unique way.

Read much more about Bethany’s experience here


Teachers: ready to think about your own funded learning adventure? Learn more about the Fund for Teachers application here!