By Elyana Schosek
In recent years, learning has developed tremendously. Students now have the world in their pocket, which has changed how they learn.
With this new technology, teachers have had to adjust their teaching styles and methods.
At the beginning of the year, Springville-Griffith Superintendent Kimberly Moritz asked the teachers in the district to incorporate a new style of learning called Project Based Learning.
This method provides students the opportunities to explore questions relating to certain topics, in a way that engages, challenges and, hopefully, excites them to learn.
“Over the past month, our students have been learning about the four major river valley civilizations of ancient times,” said Greg Miller, sixth grade Social Studies teacher at Springville Middle School. “For this unit, students selected partners, were then put into larger groups and assigned one of the following civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus River Valley and Early China.”
They were given the question, “What river valley civilization was superior to all others?” With this, the students were responsible for creating a museum exhibit that shows the accomplishments, religion, geography, politics, social structure and economics of their assigned civilization.
“The process for the project included research on their civilization, designing displays and artifacts based on their research and then finally constructing a museum exhibit as a group,” Miller explained. “The students also needed to create a video that incorporated their civilization along with an interactive component that engages the audience.”
The river valley civilizations are a big part of sixth grade Social Studies. When he was teaching the unit last year, Miller was playing with the concept of creating a museum exhibit. He presented the idea to his class last year and they loved it so much they were disappointed that they wouldn’t get the chance to do it.
Miller and a fellow teacher “wanted to find a way that would engage, motivate and excite the students to want to learn and enjoy it while doing so.”
“Overall, the kids really enjoyed the project. They worked hard from beginning to end and put forth great effort,” he said. “The ideas that they came up with outstanding. It is nice to see the creativity out of the kids.”
Additionally, Miller said, “It was interesting to see how they would react to me taking a step back and being a facilitator rather than just standing in front of them teaching. The workload and how they were going to complete it was on them”.
Miller has plans for modifying the project a little bit each year as he really enjoyed the concept and the results. The project was very hands on and involved higher level thinking than the students are typically used to, he said.
“In groups of five to six members, they researched the assigned civilization and focused on G.R.A.P.E.S., an acronym that a fellow social studies teacher here at SGI, Mr. Rob Valenti told me about,” Miller explained. “G.R.A.P.E.S. stands for Geography, Religion, Achievements, Politics, Economics and Social Structure.”
He continued in saying that, “Each group needed to include at least seven artifacts that exemplified their assigned civilization.”
Creativity was a huge part of this project for the students, Miller said. When they’re excited about it, they’re more inclined to be creative.
“Some of the exhibits included 3D models such as Pyramids and the Sphinx from ancient Egypt,” he said. “Others included small artifacts or diagrams of writing systems.
“All of my students were able to do outstanding work and surprised me with the ideas that they came up with, which was the best part of watching them work,” he continued. “The cooperation and collaboration was great during this project as many students worked together to accomplish their overall goal.”
Inventiveness and individuality thrive when students are given the chance to show it.