LJH students explore ancient Greece
Lakeridge Junior High School sixth graders recently became experts on ancient Greece, thanks to the completion of an ancient Greece unit and in-depth projects inspired by it. Sixth grade social studies teacher Kendal Doebler challenged her students with "Expert Projects," in which students deeply study one topic relating to ancient Greece.
"Kids learned about everything from different cultures' art styles to how currency developed over time and in different forms," Doebler says. "The directions are extensive and the work took a few weeks to complete."
Doebler chose not to limit her students to ancient Greece, however. "We allowed students to select other topics as a challenge to the kids who were ready for more, called a merit option," she says. "This is what we call an inquiry project."
Inquiry-based project work involves a group of students investigating a worthy question, issue, problem or idea. This is the type of authentic project work that those working in the disciplines actually undertake to create or build knowledge. The projects involve serious engagement and investigation. Mat Demski, a sixth grade social studies teacher at LJH was instrumental bringing inquiry projects to the school, according to Doebler.
"Inquiry-based learning is the best way to help all students push themselves, engage them in their own learning and help them discover where their curiosity can take them," says Doebler. "Those are the most important parts of higher-level thinking that we want to get kids to when we discuss problem-solving and innovation."
Doebler isn't the only one challenging her class with inquiry projects. Students in eighth grade have completed one in English around their reading work and are doing another in social studies. In sixth grade, students completed the ancient Greece project in social studies and are in the midst of a similar project in science class, according to Doebler.
Students' inquiry projects in Doebler's class included studies of various aspects of ancient Greece including inventions, clothing, culture, food and more, as well as students who chose out-of-the-box subjects like the history of baking.
"We hope this kind of project continues to catch on. This is a different style of school than many adults had," she says. "We had such a great celebration of learning."