Eighth Graders Present Diverse, Year-Long Individual Projects

by on May 11, 2014

At the beginning of each school year, eighth graders are assigned to select and learn a skill with which they have no prior experience, research the history of the skill, and write a biography of a person who possesses the skill.Glass_Blow_2014

The projects culminated in detailed student presentations of what they have learned and accomplished to an appreciative audience of parents and community members on May 1 and 2, 2014.

Topics included:

  • Building and playing a conga drum
  • Making a baseball bat
  • Sewing and tailoring
  • Building a skateboard quarter pipe ramp
  • Glass blowing
  • Building an electric car

During the presentations, many attendees were struck by how articulate the students are.

“I teach high school seniors who are not so self-possessed and articulate as our eighth graders,” said one parent.

But what impressed many parents the most was that the students are also so uniquely themselves.

“I think this is because the students have been encouraged to develop their own personalities. They did not follow a formula, but brought their own styles to their presentations,” said parent Cami McLaren. “Each of them stood before a room full of people, described their process and taught us how to do what they had done.”

McLaren added that these truly are self-directed, year-long projects. “My son decided to learn to make clothing. He did his biography on Levi Strauss. It was very interesting to me, as was the history he gave on tailoring. He was required to get a mentor who he chose from the school community. He went to her house every Saturday for months and emerged with a beautifully tailored shirt and vest.”

“As I sat there,” said McLaren, “I remembered my son and some of the others in kindergarten and I thought what a long way we’ve come. Not for the first time this year, I thought how grateful I am that I chose this school.”


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