Personal projects presented at Treasure Mountain
May 27, 2006
It’s a culmination of hard work and understanding.
Last week ninth-graders at Treasure Mountain International Middle School demonstrated their understanding of concepts they have learned through the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program.
Students were given the task of embarking on a project where they were required to create a finished product, and more importantly, document the process. This included keeping a process journal and composing a written personal statement that outlines their project in addition to frustrations and problems they might have encountered along the way.
"What they had to do was make sure they were regularly and consistently reflecting on what they were doing," said Courtney Elliott, co-coordinator of the personal project.
Last week ninth-graders presented their personal projects for assessment by members of the community.
The projects included an essay on Frank Lloyd Wright, a map of one of the battles Joan of Arc was involved in, music composed by students, videos on Tai Chi and fencing and one student collected money for a Basin Recreation Youth Sports Scholarship. Approximately 55 students completed their projects and presented them.
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Beth Hoburg, International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program Implementation Consultant, said students are given a lot of creative control.
"They have to make a lot of big decisions for 14 and 15 year olds," she said. "It’s intended to be something that’s challenging and uses a wide range of skills."
Gabrielle Wilson did her personal project on the challenges of babysitting, something she said is a lot of responsibility for teenagers to take on.
"I just think they need to know not to take it too lightly," she said.
She spent between 35 and 40 hours on the entire project, talking to mothers and babysitting once a week. One of the biggest lessons she said she took away from the work was the importance of not procrastinating.
"I’ve spent so much time on it, it’s a relief to be done," she said.
Kristen Kaps created a 25-page booklet titled Park City High School Sports: Common Injuries and How to Prevent Them.
She said managing her time was a challenge and doing the project gave her, "a better understanding of setting a high goal for myself."
High expectations are important for achieving a good end result, she said.
To research her project she learned about 16 sports and used 28 sources.
As an athlete Kaps said she has injured herself at least once a month for the past six months. Since doing her project she has learned more about the importance of stretching and warming up, helping her to avoid future injuries.
Students will present their personal projects to the community on Wednesday, May 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Treasure Mountain International School. There will also be information sessions for eighth grade students and parents discussing how personal projects are created. The school will also be celebrating the community service performed by eighth graders.
The Middle Years Program explained
The International Baccalaureate Organization offers three programs divided up by age groups. The one being implemented in the Park City School District is the Middle Years Program for students ages 11 -16. The district has opted to offer it to the students in grades six through nine at Treasure Mountain International Middle School and Ecker Hill International Middle School which began at the start of the 2005-2006 school year.
"It specifically addresses the cognitive needs of those students," said IB Middle Years Program Implementation Consultant Beth Hoburg.
Students in the Middle Years Program focus on eight subject areas: language arts, humanities, technology, mathematics, arts, science, physical education and foreign language.
Hoburg said, however, that the IB program including the Middle Years Program is more of a philosophy and curriculum framework rather than a focus on specific classes.
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program Coordinator for the district, Abdul Rasool said the program integrates these subjects so students can gain a better understanding of them than if they had been taught as individual topics. This shifts the focus of learning from memorization to engaging with the material, said Rasool.
One way students reinforce their integration is by considering the subjects through what is referred to as the five areas of interaction.
Those are: health and social education, community and service, environment, homo faber which translates to man the maker, where students consider the way human creativity can impact their lives and surroundings, and approaches to learning. In this area of interaction students begin to understand how they learn, and start taking initiative in their education process.
Part of the approaches to learning component is the Personal Project, a culmination of what students have covered in the IB Middle Years Program.
Rasool said one of the advantages to the program is that while academically minded students can thrive in it, there is also an opportunity for non-conventional learners to benefit from it.
He added that the program encourages community members to become involved as well.
"The responsibility of educating a student falls to many different parties," Hoburg said, listing teachers, parents, district staff and the community.
Rasool used the example of a well-traveled parent coming in to speak with a class about their experiences abroad. In the lesson students can find different areas of interaction including foreign languages, environment as well as heath and social education.
To earn the International School Certificate students must complete a personal project, community service requirements and pass assessments in the eight subject areas. They are also given a score based on their attitude and how well they were engaged with the Middle Years Program. Depending on the overall score in these four requirements they can earn either a bronze, silver or gold International school certificate.
Rasool said the program gives students skills they can use in and out of the classroom as equipping them to be well rounded individuals.
"They’re going to become intuitive lifelong learners and use that in high school or in university or in the board room making decisions," Rasool said.
More information on the IB Middle Years Program can be found online at: http://www.ibo.org