Of Grave Robbers and Pharaohs

By | 2017-08-01T21:43:34+00:00 January 21, 2015|21st Century Learning, Middle School|

I just had a conversation with an ancient Egyptian grave robber. Seriously, he was hiding out in the tomb of a recently buried Pharaoh.

Our big Presentation of Learning Night happened last week. For those of you who have never been to one of our Presentation of Learning Nights, they are a big deal. Our students work so hard on all the details like costumes and getting their visual props all lined up. However, the focus of all the preening is to present what they have been learning, and let me tell you, they have been learning a lot!

Pacing Through the Hallways

As I write this our students are still preparing for their presentations and by the time you read this they will be wrapped up. The grade 7 students are spread throughout our hallways pacing with cue cards in their hands, carefully going over their presentations. The grade 6 students have just run through a live practice presentation with the visiting grade 5 students, and our grade 8’s are immersing themselves in the characters for the Medieval Fair.

The grave robber and the pharaoh I mentioned earlier are two of our grade 7 students who have been deeply engaged in their study of Ancient Egypt. The tomb is quite amazing too, as they have commandeered one of the small rooms in our multi-purpose room and transformed it into a tomb literally fit for a king.

Eight Essentials

As a middle school staff (along with the elementary and secondary campuses) we have been working on designing projects that fit the following eight criteria:

  1. The project has significant content
  2. The project allows students to develop 21st century competencies
  3. The project involves in-depth inquiry
  4. The project is organized around a driving question
  5. The project establishes an need to know
  6. The project encourages student voice and choice
  7. The project incorporates critique and revision
  8. The project includes a public audience

While not every project covers all eight criteria in-depth, I think you can already appreciate how well the learning that is being presented at our POL night is a reflection of our move in this project-based direction.

Our students are truly excited to share through their presentations. In short, they are owning their learning. I know that having to present to people adds stress, though I also know that our teachers and educational assistants have done so much to prepare our students. However, the student ownership and enthusiasm toward what they are learning and now presenting makes me so proud of what we are doing and even more proud of our students! I hope you had the opportunity to talk with our Pharaoh to see for yourself.

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