Recently forty-eight GEMS middle school students completed an Independent Study class facilitated by Innovation Lab, Enrichment, and Art teachers. In the past the experience has been offered to a smaller group of students, but collaboration among Unified Arts teachers not only increased the number of students involved, but brought additional depth and resources to the experience.
The class began in December with a discussion about personalized learning and a framing the overall experience. Teachers shared their own personal learning and projects and modeled curiosity and question formulation. Students then designed their own research by selecting and refining a topic, formulating questions, and conducting research using a variety of resources. Librarian, Amy Rider also worked closely with the student and teachers to make use of high quality resources and build additional research skills.
Finally, students used their learning to create a project to share their findings with an authentic audience. Projects ranged from movies to display boards and 3d models. At a project fair the 7th and 8th grade researchers shared and discussed their work with students, teachers, administrators and parents. Throughout the process students kept notes and reflections in journals and completed a final reflection on the last day of the course. The reflections indicate powerful learning.