Middle School Seminars Cultural project - Creative writing - song structure - engineering & Tinkering

Cultural Project

“I was always happy to go learn more about places all over the world. It wasn’t too challenging, and it wasn’t too easy, it was perfect.” - 8th grader

In Spanish culture seminars, students learned a bit about Argentina, Guatemala, and Venezuela. The country’s history, political system, currency, language, religion, and climate, as well as visit a few of the most famous sites and sample delicious food through films. The class was set up in a simple, yet dynamic way that kept the students transitioning from watching the film, to answering a packet with questions about the video, coloring pages with the map and flag and a crossword puzzle with the main terms. At the end if there was a little time left, early finisher created a Kahoot using the information they learned from each country and everyone played at the end.

“This elective was really fun. We learned about a lot of Spanish countries. I learned that Argentina has a drink called ‘submarino’ like a chocolate milk shake.” - 6th grader

Creative Writing

“My favorite part about this session was I got to apply my knowledge of short stories and fiction stories that I learned about in Literature into my own short story that turned out well.” - 6th grader

During the Creative Writing Seminar, the students got to practice the writing process through both collaborative and individual writing. Our first class was composed of a collaborative writing game in which the students were broken up into groups and were assigned to write short stories based on the person, place, and things cards they received. This resulted in some pretty entertaining stories involving things such as Big Bird, Hogwarts, and Marina Subs. The last two sessions- the students worked on their individual writing-brainstorming, writing, and editing. Some classes focused on “Kindness Poems” while the others worked on short stories focusing on their idea of “home” and what makes a “change maker.”

"I loved our first class, when we worked in teams to create short stories, using prompts Ms. Kirkpatrick gave us. It was exciting to compete, and I hadn’t realized how fun writing could be." - 8th grader

Song Structure

"My favorite part of this session was picking a song to perform for the last class and listening to other people perform their songs." - 8th grader

In our session focusing on song structure, students had a chance to explore the basic chord progression of songs via the ukulele. We started by watching a video of "the four chord song" and students were amazed by how many songs could come from just four chords repeated. As the session continued students covered the basics of the instrument, learning the basic four chords, transposing, then eventually picking a song and performing in front of the class.

"In ukulele class I learned four chords that are in so many pop songs that I could play almost all of them on a ukulele." - 5th grader

Engineering & Tinkering

"My favorite part of the session was learning how to use the wires and batteries to create switches. I also enjoyed coming up with an idea and then figuring out how to execute it." - 8th grader

In our MakerSpace class, we introduced the students to motors, LEDs, coin cells, and wire strippers. Once students learned how each tool worked, they were given the freedom to create anything they wanted. At the end of each session, the students presented their creations to the class. Some of our creations included: clip-on lights, cars, helicopters, fans, and a lie detector test.

TMI - "This abbreviation means Too Much Info, but in MakerSpace, it means 'Think, Make, Improve'. I loved this guideline." - 6th grader

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