Seventh grade students at Wilson Middle School embarked on a new hands-on learning adventure this fall designed to encourage proficient understanding of determining themes/central ideas. Students were asked to support their understanding by citing textual evidence, while also providing examples from their project-based experience.
As part of the “Our Natural World” unit in their Literacy course, students teamed up to construct projects that recreated and simulated natural disasters, survival situations, and natural energy sources. Examples included a tornado simulation using a fan and self-constructed buildings, a survival kit that included a backpack and essential supplies, and two flood replicas to compare a flood that occurred in China to The Flood of 2008 in Cedar Rapids. The projects allowed students to both experience and learn about the topics they chose while also learning about themselves as individuals working within a group setting.
"Through our students' engagement in these projects we found so much value in the ability to dig deeper into "real-life" events that are of interest to each individual student,” explained Christine Clark, teacher. “They thought of things that I wouldn't have on my own. They asked questions, found answers, experienced frustration and persevered. With all of our minds on these adventures we discovered what we are learning together!"
The ‘Natural World’ projects were displayed as part of Wilson’s first Literacy Learning Fair where students presented information on their project both individually and as a team, and took comments and questions from both other student teams and visitors.