Our Middle School students really enjoy how what they learn in one class tends to cross over and be used in other classes all connecting to a larger idea, theme or project. We call this cross-curricular content, integrated learning. Not only does it make learning more interesting, it reflects real life. Life is full of complex problems that draw on our knowledge from multiple academic disciplines to be solved. Using project-based learning, we are able to reflect this approach in our classrooms. One instance of this is that many of our 7th and 8th grade students are preparing for their Global Studies trip to the Philippines, April 2nd-April 16th.
With this big trip in mind, their Social Studies class become a publishing company creating a travel guide for the Philippines. Students are researching and learning about the country and will be very informed about where they will be visiting. However, they are also utilizing their language arts skills and learning about graphic design layouts in their Art class to format the text and art work for their travel guide.
Our Global Studies elective class has focused on creating some of the hands on components of what we will be doing while we are in the Philippines. Students broke into 2 groups to work on various components for this trip depending on their interests. Our Worship/Drama, Games, and Craft team are creating projects for working specifically with the children in the areas we will be visiting. In Music, students will learn to play the ukulele for worship and take along these instruments with us as we travel and in PE they are learning various games to teach the children while we are there. Students are also writing letters to various companies to gather donations for their specific projects.
Our water education and filtration team have integrated their Project Lead the Way engineering curriculum to design an actual water filtration system. This brought us to the need to research as a class the various water-borne pathogens/illnesses that are present locally in the country so that we could make sure our filter system could provide safe and clean water to drink. Students also had the opportunity to take their food handlers permit class to learn about the proper way to handle foods safely in order to avoid illness and cross contamination at home and abroad.
These projects went hand in hand with our core Life Science class, as we are studying about different organisms and the human body systems. Students are learning to be Medical Detectives and will be given a mystery illness in which they will create a mock patient chart based on the vital sign information and symptoms given for their patient. They will then have to give their best diagnosis and treatment plan based on the research they have done on water/food born pathogen illnesses. They are very excited about being Medical Detectives.
These are just a few ways we have taken a big idea and integrated it into various classes so that our students see how one idea can cross over into multiple subject areas. One thing we really strive to do at Hillside is make learning fun and meaningful to our students, so that they begin to make connections with the content they have learned, not only in school but outside of the classroom as well. I love hearing from parents how their children are excited about what they are learning and how they are teaching others about the various things they have learned through the projects we have done.
If you would like to learn more about these and other projects we are doing in our Middle School come to our Open House January 14. It starts at 6:30 PM to view all grades, but at 7:00 PM we will have a special presentation regarding what Middle School looks like at Hillside Academy with a question and answer session. Our staff and students would love to share more about the exciting things we are doing in our Middle School classes.