Our School Project

A Project by Second Grade Students at Strathcona Christian Academy, Alberta, Canada

Length of project: 8 weeks
Teachers:  Karen Schellert Wilson, Brenda Adams

Phase One—Beginning the Project

The classroom teacher and consultant chose the topic of Our School for a project because it coordinated with the community topic in the social studies curriculum and would be interesting for the children. The focus of the topic was the building complex. This focus enabled the students to explore how the school and the church worked together on the same site. The teachers brainstormed ideas with the students. They began by showing the children a picture of the building complex. Students discussed what they knew about the building itself, the happenings there, the people, the work, and the activities. Each student was given a photocopy and invited to write word labels and to discuss their idea with a partner. They were also invited to write about happenings, people or parts of the building. We asked children to draw, paint, and survey others in the class to build a display of our experiences of the building. They made a graph to represent the people they knew who went only to the school, both school and church, and only to church. They shared their knowledge of people in the building who might be able to help them learn more.

Phase Two—Developing the Project

In the second phase of the project, the children discovered many things about the building which they had not known before. They interviewed the principal, the secretary, the custodian, and the business manager. The children explored the building itself, measuring and counting and doing observational drawings. They made field sketches and took field notes, learning about the jobs done by different people in the building. The children collected data about the buses, the office equipment, and the history of the school/church complex. They collected data by recording, surveying, questioning, and discussing. They represented their findings in stories, drawings, paintings, collages, models, dioramas, maps, time-lines, models and diagrams. Individual children found interesting tasks to work on for several days. For example, one child became interested in a scrap book of newspaper clippings collected over the past ten years. She chose some of the most interesting events and compiled information to display in a time-line to show the history of the building over the ten years since its construction.

Phase Three—Concluding the Project

The work was collected and summarized in a class newspaper in the third phase of the project. Copies of the newspaper were given to all the people who had been interviewed. The parents were very interested in the newspaper and wanted to purchase multiple copies for other family members. T'he children wrote stories and poetry to extend and personalize their learning. This work was collected in class books and displayed on the class bulletin boards. The students also a made a class presentation to parents and to children from another classroom.

Comments

Several parents worked in the church/school complex. These parents were very helpful and interested in the children's research. The teachers were surprised how involved the children became in developing their work and extending it to make it more interesting and more challenging. Before the end of their first project these children were suggesting to the teachers how they could go further in their work. The children were also delighted with the interest shown by other adults and children in the building in what they were doing in their project.

Project Summaries

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