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Our Middle School participates in Genius Projects every Friday morning. This provides time for Mr. Johnson's students to participate in science labs and in depth math explorations. Mr. Erickson's students can dig deeper into maps, research, and presentations for social studies or book projects. Ms. Edwards's students can pursue their own research, passion, or choice projects.
We believe students learn more when their passions are followed, when projects allow their strengths to shine, and when time encourages the type of deep thinking that solidifies learning and connects ideas in multiple disciplines. Our Common Core State Standards require this type of deep thinking and understanding.
This week in Ms Edwards's class we focused on storytelling and art as choice projects. Students could also choose their own topics.
5 Card Story
Creating stories seems easy, until your choices include five random pictures. Then the creative and critical thinking skills matter: How do you start a story at one random picture and end up at another by connecting all five pictures together? Some students struggled with attempting a simple concrete story, and others created poetic journeys. The important thing is they had a problem to solve, asked for help and strategies, and struggled with ideas until each created a story. Too often in our classrooms, students are provided with so much scaffolding that they are unable to think for themselves and then are unable to transfer the process to other situations. This engaging activity expected students to struggle in order to strengthen their own thinking processes to solve the problem: How do I create a whole story given random pictures? If you want to try, here are the directions, and for examples, enjoy our grade seven stories here.
Art in 3
Our next choice in Genius Project day in Grade Seven, provided a chance to play with art and present our efforts. We wanted to again choose a prompt that focused our thinking to develop an image on which our artistic talents would create. Then we chose three art styles to create within the time allowed.
Our directions here provided choices, although we needed to change the number from five styles to three since we had already used our time for the 5 Card Story project. Here are four finished and displayed projects:
Styles: Sketch, Pastels, Computer
Styles: Computer, Sketch, Pastels
Styles: Sketch, Pastel, Computer
Styles: Sketch, Pastel, Cubism
How did we do? How do you think Genius Project Time is important?
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