Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Final Project: Student Engagement = Student Success

Here it is, right? If a student is engaged, the student will be FAR more likely to be successful.

Case in point:
This is probably the most productive this particular student has been all year. He got all these ideas down on paper in about an hour. And you know why? Because he's creating a project about zombies, something he has a real and true interest in.

I'm super excited about our cross-curricular final project, and so are our students. They're working on it for three periods every day, and the buzz of learning that's happening in the room is pretty incredible.

They were given some scenarios that would create a shift in the environment or culture, and then chose one or created their own. Then they create the narrative of the story of what happened, and then show how this shift will change peoples' worldviews (the key concept in Social Studies in grade 8), as well as incorporate learning of math concepts (particularly stats and probability) and science (specifically fresh and salt water systems).

Here are the scenarios we came up with:

• An earthquake in the Rocky Mountains causes the Continental Divide to shift. All water from the Rockies now drains towards British Columbia. The Bow and the Elbow [rivers] are bone dry.
• Global warming causes the ice caps to fully melt.
• We run out of petroleum and oil. There are no more reserves anywhere on the planet.
• The earth’s rotation starts to slow. Days start to get gradually longer and longer.
• Hive collapse causes all the bees on earth to die.
• Due to high nutrient fertilizer used in North American agriculture, the oceans around all the coastal regions in North America turn into dead zones.
• Because of over-farming, the farm land in Alberta becomes desert.
• Due to human activity, 20% of living species become extinct.
• Aliens have landed in Calgary. They are peaceful, but they want to take over the land.
• The United States has decided they want to annex Canada as its territory.
• A mysterious virus is rapidly infecting people. It doesn’t cause death, but it slows people down and blunts their intelligence.
• A mysterious virus causes everyone to go blind.
• Invent something (i.e. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Rodents of Unusual Size, etc.).
• Got a better idea? Propose it. It must be an environmental or cultural change that would impact people.

But you know what's cooler? The scenarios that they proposed! Immense creativity in our kids! One group came up with the scenario that all the continents come back together to create another Pangea. Obviously, the student above decided to tackle zombies. One group decided that all people pass away at age 25. Fascinating stuff! The creative and critical thinking they've displayed so far has been pretty incredible.

And we're only two days in! So excited to see where this goes. Want the assignment? Here it is.

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