This year’s Humanities Fair focuses on documentaries. Students have worked collaboratively for the last three months to learn about documentaries, decide on subjects to research, create presentations, and prepare to publicly present their work. The collaborative nature of their work and authentic learning reflects the shift from traditional solo projects to the changed world of education that emphasizes Problem Based and 21st Century Learning.
Last year’s Science Fair focused on important conservation topics in science presented in a debate format. Students first had to learn a new skill – debate – and then conduct research on their topics, write arguments, and present them before an audience. The documentaries presented at this year’s Humanities Fair, whether the timelines in the primary and elementary grades or the movie style presentations presented by fifth through eighth graders, are the result of authentic learning necessary for student success in an information age. Teachers work as facilitators and mentors, teaching students the skills they need to complete their work.
The middle school video documentaries required students to research important, but not “overused,” historical figures, determine their legacies, write scripts, locate images and videos, learn movie making software, record voice overs, and create a video in classic documentary style. Some examples of subjects include: Thurgood Marshall, Title IX, Marian Anderson, and Malala Yousafzai. Finally, groups of students practiced presentations to deliver to an audience at the Humanities Fair. This was a significant undertaking facilitated by the teachers and made successful because of the student’s hard work. We are thrilled with their projects and new skills acquired in research, teamwork, analysis, writing and thinking.