MCH Sixth Grade Exit Project: The Island Project 2015-16
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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I hope you've been enjoying the three-day weekend! We had an amazing first week in Turquesa, and I'm hoping that your child shared a lot of it with you already.
I'll be sending out weekly emails this year in order to fill you in on what's been happening in the classroom and what's coming up. I'll be sharing a lot of information with you tomorrow night at Upper Elementary Parent Night (6 pm in Turquesa), but I couldn't wait to share a few highlights from our week.
Last week, we really focused on community building. We played a whole bunch of getting-to-know-you games throughout the week - everything from Classmate Scavenger Hunt to Poison Dart Frog. Mr. Robin and I are already impressed with how caring and attentive our people are to the needs and feelings of others. At this age, children have really strong social needs and it's important to incorporate that drive into communications and academic work.
In order to give them intellectual and organizational community events, I purposefully introduced several free-form collaborative team-style exercises. For example, they split into teams of 5 in order to make a scale-model mobiles of the solar system. This was a review lesson that anchors our earth science work, but it was also a great chance for me to see how they work together, how they express their ideas and how they respond to each other. I have to be completely honest and say that I've rarely met a group of children who are as naturally and easily compatible as this year's Turquesa, while also being amazingly diverse in terms of learning needs and communication styles. Wow! I'm really excited for this year!
Beyond community building, we had a full array of history, writing, science and literature lessons. Math and reading assessments, as well, were happening throughout the week.
I hope to see you tomorrow evening for Parent Night and Friday afternoon from 5-7 for the Recess Monkey Back-to-School BBQ!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
El Salon Turquesa Co-Lead Teachers