PWSD trustees toured Elmworth School and met with students for an engagement activity during the morning of Thursday, April 13, 2017 – the last day of classes prior to spring break.
Principal Cynthia Gauthier welcomed the trustees and Superintendent Sheldon Rowe to her Grades 7-9 Language Arts and Health class (pictured). Students shared their Twenty Percent topics, a project-based learning assignment that spans the entire school year and encourages students to pursue creative interests of their choice. Ms. Walker, the school's science teacher, is also involved in the project.
The project draws on advice from a book by Kevin Brookhouser, The 20time Project, which challenges teachers to move away from the 'sage on the stage' model of teaching into the role of 'guide on the side', and provides a weekly time for students – approximately 20 percent of the school year – to work on personal projects. At the end of the year, students will rehearse and deliver recorded TED-style presentations to the school's staff and 70-member student body.
At the beginning of the school year, students brainstormed to develop project proposals, and teamwork was encouraged. Once approved, students moved quickly from the idea phase into focusing on the finished product, with the added challenge to make it beneficial to the greater community. Students sought out adult mentors and regularly record their progress and challenges in weekly journal entries.
"We need to provide opportunities for students to become responsible young adults," says Ms. Gauthier.
Among the student presenters was Miranda Smith who is developing a program to provide backcountry skills. Hunter Jacklin (pictured) is using her artistic talents to work on community art projects. Cort Field, Ryan Collett and Cameron Wright are producing a comedy horror movie using iMovie software and homemade props to bring entertainment to their community. Four students are capitalizing on the school-based greenhouse to grow and then sell produce and flowers in Elmworth during the month of June. Jayden Lunn will use her experience coaching the Elmworth School boys' basketball team to host a summer camp for local kids. Daniel Smith and Jace Grant have paired up to maintain the local rink, repainting the boards, and flooding and clearing the ice for the community.
Following the presentation, Trustees toured Ms. Lieverse's Kindergarten class, Ms. Gundersen's Grades 1-2 class, and met Grades 3-4 students and their Educational Assistant Ms. Smith (pictured).
After a tour of the adjacent school greenhouse (pictured), the group met with Ms. Kelly's Grade 6 class for a question-and-answer session and engagement activity on school board governance (pictured), and gathered feedback on what is working well at the school. Groups worked together to come up with three words to describe what makes their school special. The words were entered into a 'Wordle' – a digital application used to create a visual word cloud in which words that appear most frequently are given greater prominence – that can be printed as a poster for the school (pictured).
For more photos, visit PWSD's Facebook page.