Teacher: Nicole Champoux
Goals & Objectives
The Sixth Grade Island Project is a culminating experience for students in their final year at Montessori Children’s House. All of their experiences are drawn together and brought to a close through this year-long undertaking. While each Sixth Grader student creates his/her own project, the fact that all of the Sixth Grader are on similar journeys provides many opportunities for community building, shared work and shared strength. The Island Project is an opportunity for Sixth Graders to showcase their proficiencies and bring their Elementary experience to its completion with a tremendous accomplishment.
The Ability to Do Big Work
The Island Project is a monumental undertaking and requires a tremendous commitment. It incorporates a great deal of thinking, reading, writing and creativity. First, the student pictures the world, and everything they’ve learned about it over the years. Then they select a longitude and latitude – an actual location on the globe – where they will spend the academic year creating a place from scratch. Once a location has been selected, the student is committed to it and it cannot be changed.
The project happens in segments over the course of the school year. Each distinct task lasts anywhere from two to eight weeks. Students must manage their own time and efforts in order to accomplish each segment; each task feels large and important due to the student’s on-going investment in it.
The Island Project tackles big concepts and requires big effort. Students directly address some of the most important concepts in global development and survival, like the confluence of geography, culture and economics. This work brings the hypothetical/imaginary (yet complex) world of the student’s Island directly into the modern world of current events and ethics.
Each student must choose a unique geographical location. This means that they have sole responsibility to independently research the geographical, biological, historical, cultural, economical and sociopolitical aspects of the region in which they’ve placed their island and the country upon which they have modeled it.
The Island Project papers that are handed to the students include all of the descriptions, tasks and due dates. Each student is on an individual journey, with many long and short term goals and objectives throughout the year.
Although each student’s Island Project is a unique and solo endeavor, the project involves frequent opportunities for students to work together. They work together in seminar-like discussions, grappling with a wide variety of complex and sophisticated ideas. Students talk together, share articles, help each other, and give each other formal and informal feedback on their writing. They participate in each other’s projects and present together at the end-of-the-year Island Night. Throughout the process, they become aware that they are dependent upon one another, essential contributors to the learning community.
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