OK, I know the following is a little longer than usual, but my intent is to say thanks to each of you for the support and encouragement you have given your student(s) in preparing for History Fair and to assure you that the pain is worth the gain!!!
My first full time year at ICA, I was the classroom teacher for 14 very capable 5th and 6th grade students. As a class motto for the year, I created a sign that was posted at the front of the room above the whiteboard. It simply said, “I DARE YOU”, announcing from the first day that the year would be demanding and require them to give more effort than they may have given at any other time in the school career. Along with that revelation, I also reminded them of the exhilaration and joy of accomplishing a difficult task.
Although I received some dubious looks, my theory that it is difficult for a 12 year old to resist a dare proved true. Throughout the year together we successfully deciphered their first Shakespearean work, unraveled the plot, characters, and themes of Watership Down (not a short story by any stretch), stormed our way through level 7 Shirley Grammar (daunting just to look at), and memorized the book of James. It also happened to be the rotation for History Fair that year, each of them creating historical characters I still remember to this day.
Were these all outstanding scholars? Not really, but they were a group of students who approached the year with a mindset of hard work, not expecting to skate through without effort.
Each year at our fair time, whether it is history, art or science, there are individual and collective groans all around: students, parents and teachers. We ALL feel the pain and understand the work involved in doing hard things like a fair project; however, I want to assure and encourage you that there is also significant advancement in the learning process that takes place because of these projects.
As a parent, I remember brainstorming with my kids, who discarded ten stupendous ideas (mine of course) before settling on something they really were jazzed about learning, then slogging through the research process, finding just the right books to provide enough information for a research paper and considering each point at the dinner table. The project itself elicited creative stores I didn’t not know my children possessed, and tested the patience of their parents who provided the raw materials sometimes just days before said project was supposed to be completed. (Been there?)
When my son chose to study the Hobo culture in connection with his US History class in 7th grade, I encouraged him (OK compelled might be a better word) to learn a hobo song and sing it with his new guitar (Christmas present) as part of his presentation. He learned three chords, performed the song several times that night, and got quite a nice collection of coins in his hobo can! Just last evening he led worship with his guitar at a church in Florida. It all started with history fair.
My daughter also taught us quite a lot as she studied the native American culture of our island, even discovering that the nettle tea she served for her project is good for female ailments.
Even greater in importance than the knowledge acquired through these projects, though, is the skill of managing a long-term project throughout several years of fairs. This process requires the discipline of planning, researching and executing – skills that are crucial to most work environments in which they will find themselves later in life. (This year my daughter planned, organized and is executing a mulit-month ap writing project for work.)
That 6th grade class is graduating from high school this year. One of them just stopped in my office to ask for a letter of recommendation for scholarships for which she is applying. What a delight it is to be involved in the lives of kids, seeing them learn and grow and knowing you were a part of it!
Way to go students, parents and teachers for your commitment to doing hard things throught our History Fair this year. May you feel a sense of accomplishment and joy with benefits for years to come!
Attached MT has several announcements, so please take a look!
Island Christian ACademy
Decidedly Academic - Distinctively Christian.
A few of our wax museum participants
Electives week with Detective Farr from Island County
Service Project, Langley
High School students visit the capital building in Olympia
Spelling bee winners
Sno-Isle Skill Center graduate and ICA senior
Secondary Leadership Retreat
Community service project at the Island County Fairgrounds
Northwest Institute of the Literary Arts winners