Middle school students hold first Learning Fair

MS learning fair 2The Greene County Middle School Building LEAD Team remembered the Science Fairs of years ago when they in early June to discuss possible learning goals for the students in their building. Besides the ‘fun’ environment, the team revisited the quality hands-on learning and self-directed research that some of them did as they participated in those events. Additionally, they noted the many communication skills those activities helped them develop.

In that spirit, GCMS students held their first Learning Fair on Thursday, Nov. 19, at the middle school gymnasium. Twelve teams of students presented research findings on subjects ranging from college sports to medical science to raising livestock to computer gaming.

MS learning fair 1Students self-selected topics to explore and research and worked in teams of two to six with the objective of creating a 5-7 minute presentation that could be shared with the public. Students were asked to consult and reference multiple sources of information and to make a connection with at least one ‘expert’ in their respective field of study.

Students were provided most of their resources, although several groups did create unique items or include real artifacts as a part of their presentation. One group created a video game; another group made their own ‘quiz wheel’; still another demonstrated volleyball skills. Several groups utilized Chromebook elements in their presentations as well.

The original goal of this project was to help student develop what are deemed “21st Century Skills” in the Iowa Core Curriculum including time management/planning skills, communication and teamwork skills, research skills, and presentation skills. These skills are vitally important to success in the adult business world, but too often are overlooked in education.

In order to provide feedback to the students on their work, five guest ‘judges’ were invited to view the presentations and provide positive support as well as constructive criticism. The guest judges participating in this first fair were  Angie and Robby Pedersen, owners of RVP~1875; Jim North, who runs the Webb House; Dawn Rudolph, Greene County supervisor and Scranton Rec Center operator; and Darren Jackson, HS speech and drama teacher and Grand Junction city council member.

Three GCMS teachers also evaluated presentations:  Amy Keenan, eighth grade science; Tom Braun, seventh grade social studies; and Spencer Bauer, seventh grade science. Presentations were evaluated on six criteria, referred to as the ’Universal Constructs,’ also taken from the Iowa Core Curriculum.

The next Learning Fair will take place sometime in late February or early March, based on the progress of middle school student teams. Please look for future announcements.

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