It’s been another marathon week of planning and curriculum design in Innovation Lab. It’s interesting to see all of our ideas come together in the different projects we’ve created. At the beginning of the year, the process felt a bit like moving towards the horizon–no matter how much progress we made, our final goal remained just out of reach. Now, however, as we get closer to the end of the school year, it feels like one journey is drawing to a close and another one is about to begin.
A big part of our project design has to do with audience. When planning our projects, we’ve worked hard to make sure student work is meaningful and relevant to the real world. With that in mind, each of our projects has a final exhibition where students get the chance to present or showcase their work beyond the classroom. Being a part of the research and development team has been a challenge because our showcase has always been far in the future. In the meantime, we’ve had to keep Innovation Lab in the world of imagination. So in honor of being only a few months away from the start of the program, I thought I’d share some authentic showcase ideas for a few of our projects.
- Using the idea of the melting pot as inspiration (and perhaps a point of refutation), students will create their own visual metaphor for America based on their research of America during the early 20th century and today. Students will display their work in various stores along Greenwich Avenue along with an electronic bar code that links their work to a blog with a written explanation of their project. There will also be a section for people to comment on their work.
- In a project based on American history and literature during the 1930s and 40s, students will create a superhero based on the needs of the world today and write their own comic book. Students will publish their books and have the opportunity to sell them to raise money for a charity of their choice.
- In a project about World War II, students will create a documentary film about a local resident’s experience during the war. They will interview veterans and read primary source material from the Greenwich Oral History Project to create their film. Students will then put on a film festival and invite all of the interviewees to attend. Based on votes cast by the audience, some films will be given awards.
- In another project, students will examine children’s books about the Civil Rights Movement and create their own children’s book about a current issue of their choice in a way that is accessible yet not oversimplified. Students will then read their books at a local elementary school.
Each of the above projects encompasses key content for both American History and English and allows for a degree of personalization and flexibility. At the same time, there is also a strong writing component as students must reflect on their work and tailor their responses based on the intended audience. If you have any project ideas for Humanities (American history and literature during the 20th century) feel free to comment below!
Twenty years ago (probably less), it would have been impossible to create some of these showcases. Publishing a professional looking children’s book or comic can be done online. I’m impressed to see the work in humanities as much as I am with STEM.
Thank you for sharing this exciting work, you certainly have made so much progress in identifying important questions in ways to get students work authentic. I can’t wait to have our students and your students share work with each other next year!