Our Pre-Algebra class is engaging in a project that applies their learning to a fun scenario: spending a virtual budget of $500 to make over a faculty member. As students seek to assemble a wardrobe and service (e.g. haircut), they are required to factor in the following:
- A sales tax of 6.35% on all items
- A 15% tip to any service providers
- A 20% discount for all outerwear
- A 15% discount for all tops and bottoms
- A 10% discount for all shoes and accessories
Students' project presentations contain three components: a budget, a journal, and a visual display of the makeover items. In creating these components, students gain the opportunity to conduct an interview, organize, manipulate, and display data, practice calculating percentages, reflect on their choices and learning process, and publish their work to share with an audience — including the faculty member whom they've chosen to style. As our students hone their skills in researching, calculating, and presenting, they are channeling their creativity, actively reflecting, and enjoying the fun of designing faculty fashion.
Our sixth and seventh grade Ecology students were challenged with analyzing alternative energy sources and creating a presentation to inform and advise an energy company Board of Directors. Students were charged with explaining how each form of energy works, where in the world each form of energy would be most practical and cost effective, and determining whether it would be profitable for the company to invest into the form of energy. Energy types included: water power, nuclear power (fusion and fission), wind power, solar energy, geothermal energy, biomass fuels, and tidal energy. Students conducted authentic research, used graphs and tables for illustration, and developed presentations that challenged their abilities to summarize, synthesize, persuade, and speak publicly. The girls were able to integrate multimedia in their final projects, leveraging various means for expressing themselves and demonstrating their understanding.
Foundations of the Modern World is a rich and expansive content area. However, there is so much information and so little time! Thus, as we studied the French Revolution, and the students learned about the revolutionary process in 18th century France, they also studied revolutions from the past 25 years.
First, we turned the French Revolution into a simple equation of situations: Absolutism + Enlightenment = French Revolution--> Napoleon and Empire. In place of a formal test to assess the students on their knowledge of the revolution, the students had to utilize the visual presentation tool of Prezi (www.prezi.com) to describe this equation. Then, with their partner, the girls had to compare the French Revolution to a modern revolution from the last 25 years and develop a thesis that answered the following question: Is the process (equation) of the French Revolution applicable to the modern revolutionary process? The students picked a wide variety of revolutions and pushed me to redefine what I meant by revolution. (One group did Tiananmen Square and defined it as a "failed revolution.") The use of Prezi, a more visual, web-based form of PowerPoint, encouraged students to examine visually what a deep comparison "looks" like. As they compared French absolute Monarchs, they discussed a modern dictator or authoritative government.
It is my hope that the girls will take the organizational and conceptual skills they used in this project into our next unit where they will be writing a comparative analysis of approaches and rationales for imperialist policies of the 19th century. I hope their use of a visual tool like Prezi will help them to understand the importance of organization, methodology and approach when composing a comparative analysis of history.
For our unit on American Government, the students sifted through the US Constitution, seeking to understand what makes it the formative document of the American government. We then considered major Supreme Court cases from the Dred Scott decision, to Korematsu vs. United States, to Miranda vs. Arizona. In class, we created a documentary on a theme the girls noticed as an oft-cited part of the Constitution: the 14th Amendment. In preparation for making their own documentaries on a legal case, the students collaboratively composed a script on Google Docs online, describing and analyzing the 14th Amendment.
The students then divided the script into lines, and each girl was responsible for finding primary sources and images to place in the documentary for the part she narrated. The final result was truly a successful class collaboration! The girls then utilized the skills they learned in class of working with the medium of video to develop independently some intriguing documentaries to describe famous historical trials and analyzing the role the Constitution played in the outcome of the trial. Read more for some great examples of individual student work on the Haymarket Riot Trial and the Susan B. Anthony Trial!
Students in the seventh grade math lab have been collaborating on developing solutions to real-world problems. Their latest challenge was to design and create a resource that could help new international students learn about the weather in Simsbury, CT, learn how to convert temperatures given Fahrenheit to Celsius, and identify what clothes to bring for different seasons and local activities. After exploring various media, the students decided to use Glogster, a digital poster-creation tool, to develop their project. The students recognized the benefit of having a resource that could be shared with a global audience, showcased in multiple locations, easily updated, and could include engaging multimedia. With the guidance of their teachers, the students formed teams to research, design, and implement the project. Throughout the process, they learned about the challenges and opportunities of working as a team and culminated their efforts by presenting their final product to our school’s Admissions Department. The project was well received by the Admissions Team, and our seventh graders are encouraged to continue to refine this weather guide developed by students for students!
In small groups of 5 or 6, Ethics students have applied ethical theory to current and anticipated developments in three areas of rapid technological change: Robotics/ Artificial intelligence; Genetics and Nanotechnology. Each group made a multimedia report on its research into the promises and perils of these technologies. Students made ethically based recommendations on how such technologies should be developed or limited. Finally, we engaged in a large group discussion on the complex interactions of these technologies and their ethical implications. These presentations and discussions were videotaped. This project was preceded by a study of Ethical Theory and the viewing and discussion of two science fiction films that forecast various potential developments in the scientific fields under consideration: 2001 Space Odyssey and Bladerunner.