For our final project of the year we wanted something that would allow students to apply the 21st century skills they have learned and also provide a sense of closure to our school year. With two months left we still had to cover the Social Studies standards addressing American symbols and knew this would be our launching point. So, after covering basic facts about several American symbols and how they unite people, our class began to investigate our driving question, “How are we represented through symbols?”
Our students, supported by the teachers and several experts in the field, studied symbology and explored different types of symbols and icons in order to understand how common interests, values, and beliefs are represented. Students then applied these abstract concepts to the real-world when they determined that “collaboration” was a common value at our school that could be represented by a symbol. Students were excited that they would design a symbol for collaboration that could highlight our school’s commitment to the 21st century skills.That was when the real work began. As a class we decided to collect evidence on how different groups of people collaborate at our school by creating a video of interviews from students, teachers, administration, parents, and board members. In addition, we wanted to document our class’ collaborative experiences by publishing a book. The class was broken into six different teams consisting of the Symbol Design Team, Interviewing Team, Video Recording Team, Video Editing Team, Writing Team, and Publishing Team. Every student participated in each part through continual feedback. This week we will be presenting our symbol, which has been incorporated into a wall hanging, at our school's Town Meeting.
I was so impressed by the students’ level of interest and engagement throughout this project. In addition, it was a wonderful learning experience for myself. I found that by creating teams in which tasks had to be completed at separate times made it much easier to manage and support each team. This final project was a true reflection of students’ development of critical thinking, problem-solving, self-management, communication, and collaborative skills. Here is a little from the last page of our first grade book.
“Well here is what we have learned. What you need to do to collaborate is share ideas with your teammates. Responsibility is important when collaborating. You need to set goals in your team. And the last thing is you have to be able to work in a team.” -Reid
“This is what we have learned about collaboration: do not be off task and practice being in a team. We have to work together in a team, do not goof around, do not fight, set goals with your team, participate and listen to your teammates.” -Coco
“I learned that sometimes it can be hard to collaborate with others.” -Reagan
“What I learned about collaboration is to never give up and keep focusing on what you are doing.” -Landon
“It is hard sometimes to collaborate because it is hard to think of ideas to share, but it is also fun to collaborate.” -Will