Feb 12, 2015

Project Based Learning

2/12/2015 — cori
Chloe's school is a new, charter school in our area that believes kids learn best in a project-based environment.  I agree that many children do learn best in this way but it's not for everyone.  You have to be a very self-motivated student with lots of self-discipline and most of all possess a strong sense of curiosity and desire to learn.

The students have done many projects already this year.  Currently, Chloe is working on making a brochure inviting people to come visit the Palace of Versailles.  She was recently interviewed by the local newspaper and explained her latest project, which at the time was the "Hero Project".  She chose a relatively unknown person in the Women's Suffrage Movement, Lydia Taft.

However, it was her first project, "Endangered Animals of Minnesota" that taught her the most as well as challenged her the most.  She learned a lot about how to research, make an bibliography, how not to plagiarize,  and how to make a website.  That last one was hard but worth it.

Luckily, she has a rock star web-designer Dad.  He was able to help teach her the basics about page layout, user friendly designs, fonts, colors and text.  It took many hours to make and many more hours to edit.  But even after all the tears and huffy breaths, she was super proud of what she turned out.  And so was I!

I'm so amazed what kids are able to do with technology these days.  In college I was still using poster board to make presentations.  The World Wide Web was just being introduced to us in 1995.  And here we are 20 years later and my daughter is creating her very own website thanks to Weebly.  What a positive use of technology.

National History Day

2/12/2015 — cori
Every year the 7th graders compete in a National History Day project.   The requirements are to think outside the box and present the information they learn through research in the form of a website, documentary or research paper.  This year's theme was Leadership and Legacy.

At first Bennett wanted to research Benjamin Franklin but his teacher nixed that idea saying he was too common, to think outside the box a little more.  Next he came up with MLK, Jr., but again, another prominent figure, worthy of studying, but too well known.  The idea was to learn about someone lesser known but that still made an historical impact.  Thinking along those lines, Bennett decided on Malcolm X. 

He created this website using Weebly.  I was super impressed!  So was his teacher.  He made a 97% on this project that he spent 2 months working on.  I learned a lot about Malcolm X that I never knew.  I'm glad he did this project.

The teacher picks out the top 15 projects in the school and those students go on to Regionals, then State, then Nationals in Washington D.C.  I look forward to seeing how far Bennett's hard work takes him.

The Banquet

2/12/2015 — cori

This High School sophomore has finally found his niche.  Not only do these kids think like him, have similar interests and enjoy learning, they also love to dress up as much as he does.  Mock Trial is the place to be - at least for Gavin.  He feels comfortable with these kids.  They enjoy the brain stimulation, the challenge and the verbal back and forth that comes with the territory.  You must love what you're doing if you write and memorize a 5 minute closing argument and pull it off like a real lawyer - all for fun.  They are all highly intellectual, articulate, conscientious students.

My "Mocklete" (a term his group coined and call themselves), I'm so proud of him.  During this time of adolescence your friends carry a high degree of importance in your life.  You are gaining more and more independence and finding out where you fit in this world (albeit the small world of high school).  I'm so happy for Gavin that he found these kids.  If you know Gavin, you know this is huge. He has always been a loyal, one-on-one friend.  He doesn't need a group of people around him to feel good about himself.  But he has just blossomed since joining this Mock Trial Club.  It certainly makes a difference when you find like-minded friends.  He was even nominated and voted for Junior Team Captain next year.   

But all that isn't the purpose of this story, that was just the background.  The purpose is the re-telling of the Mock Trial Banquet.  A couple of weeks ago Gavin came home and announced that there would be a banquet and I was to write it in my calendar.  But alas, it was not for families - just Mockletes.  And it wasn't going to be at the school, but at somebody's house.

So I said, "Oh.  So it's a party."

And he said, "No. It's a Banquet."

So I said, "Will there be food?"

And he said, "Yes."

So I said, "Then it's a party."

And he said, "No. It's a Banquet."

I'm going to cut our conversation short due to space and boredom, but it did go on for a while longer with just as much enthusiasm and short answers as above.  And since I was arguing with a Mocklete, he won.  My objections weren't strong enough.

So, he's invited to his first ever high school party at someone's house and he is calling it a banquet.  In my book - that's funny!  Then he realizes he's supposed to bring something to this banquet and he begins to panic.

"Mom, what should I bring to the banquet?"

"What do you know how to make?"

"Um.  Nothing."

"Ok then....how about some pop?" (Minnesotan for soda)

Unfortunately for him, the hostess of the banquet was providing the pop so he had to work extra hard to come up with a passable banquet food item he could make and bring.  We finally came up with homemade chocolate chip cookies.  You know, the kind from the back of the Nestle Toll House bag.  

He rocked the cookies.  Everyone at the banquet loved them.  The hostess even asked for the recipe. He asked me if he could bring her a mimeographed copy.  

I asked him what he did at the banquet.  Apparently they stood around and talked.  Then they played a Wii Dance Off game.  I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that!  Then they passed out homemade awards (and as in homemade I mean a piece of ripped construction paper with quickly written words scribbled across the page).  Gavin won the award for "Most Likely To Say I Love You Back".  It must hold some weight because he even taped it to his door when he got home.

I think next year I'm going to hold a banquet at my house for my birthday.  They sound so much more fun than regular old parties.

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