Every year in the STEAM-Powered Classroom, we migrate between a more traditional layout of core subjects and intense periods of focused work on one or two projects. This month, Eva and I have been absorbed in the latter. She has four major projects that are currently taking all of her time: 1) completion of her newest book, 2) production of her film series entitled “Amazing Women of the 20th Century,” 3) Science Olympiad, and 4) some public speaking events.
Photos and Films
Instead of tackling these subjects in hour-long chunks, we have determined that longer, focused work is a more productive and fulfilling approach. For the last two weeks, Eva has focused on creating photographs for her book, The Krazy Kinzy Kapers, and has begun to share them via social media to build audience interest. She has also created one “Amazing Women” video installment each week. This has meant that our days and classroom are a mess of creation – hot gluing, prop building, backdrop drawing, and waiting until the sun is just right to take the perfect shot or video.
This intense approach makes some people uncomfortable. A 10 year old doing nothing but art for two weeks? Yep. These lessons of persistence and dedication are so important, and Eva is building expertise in her chosen areas. Sometimes projects are big, and though you may think that creating similar art projects repeatedly over the period of several weeks loses meaning, it doesn’t. With each shot, she improves. She is learning the feel of the camera and getting better at finding the perfect angle. Her script writing and editing skills are improving as well. She is more efficient with each new video, and the quality of the films keep getting better! Though I was helping her revise the first couple of scripts, I don’t even hear them now until she creates the audio. She has found her rhythm, her voice. She is becoming an expert.
Shifting to Science
Last week we had to shift gears. Eva is competing in Science Olympiad with our local middle school, and the event is this week. She was feeling somewhat unprepared, so we paused our grand art extravaganza project and dove into science. For the past several days, we have breathed and slept polar ice caps on moons like Europa. We have learned about Ohms and circuits, both series and parallel. We have identified powders and discussed forensics. Everything else has been put aside. We even physically left our classroom with all its crafty distractions and took over the dining table, spreading out computers, charts, and notes.
Public Speaking Preparation
Eva’s other big project is a public speaking event to a group of third graders that took place earlier this morning. To prepare for that, we took a break from Science Olympiad and spent a couple of hours practicing and gathering materials for her presentation. We updated her flyers, printed them, and cut them up into lovely bookmarks. All of this is quality schoolwork, and through each of these activities, Eva enhances her expertise in authorship, filmmaking, and public speaking, critical thinking, astronomy, and engineering, and long-range goal setting. Each of these activities present themselves naturally, and Eva is motivated by her own desires to complete her projects and to perform well. I’m just here as an assistant.
How do you work best? If you really get into a project, do you find it rewarding to be able to close everything else out and focus on it? Or do you work best with variety? What style do your students prefer? And what are your challenges in making your ideal education schedule?
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