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Showing Vickie Morrissey

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3-5 | The Arts | Real World Application or Field Study

Station RMPBS in Colorado

My Classroom Innovation

The da Vinci Academy participated in a project-based learning activity and act of philanthropy, to strengthen math, interpersonal, and 21st Century skills. Designed as a reality show, Project da Vinci Designs, presented students with a problem: The current school library was small and underutilized. It needed to be relocated to a different space on the second floor and redesigned to better serve our creative, arts-integrated school community. Students were given the task of measuring the current library shelving. They received a blue-print of the new space, and measured the new area. Using a 2D/3D online room designer, students used all measurements to form new blue-prints. Students were given a list of “Must Haves” to incorporate into their designs, while given the freedom to dream and plan a new library for their peers to enjoy. Teams researched design elements for the new Leo’s Library (named after our namesake, Leonardo da Vinci). After weeks of measuring, designing, and researching, teams were trained by our drama coach in presentation skills. The teams put together power point presentations, together with their 2D/3D room blue-prints, and presented to a group of judges including students, parents, and staff. Judges chose elements from each group to include in the new library. Students, parents, and staff joined to make the plans a reality by boxing and moving books, painting walls and murals, recovering chairs, making pillows from club and production t-shirts, and grant writing. Our generous PTO provided funds for special features the students had chosen to capture the spirit of our school, such as a rug based on Matisse tissue paper art and a Mona Lisa dragon portrait, which now hangs over the library fireplace. This project-based learning act of philanthropy equipped our students to influence and make a difference in their 21st century world.

How Students were Engaged

Students learned to collaborate, compromise, and divide and conquer during this project. Working together in teams requires practice and patience. Students learned to listen to one another, giving value to others’ opinions. Equally important, students learned to hold back, letting others have a voice. Collaboration calls for compromise. In an effort to include all team members, students learned give and take, allowing many ideas to be represented. Students learned to use their time efficiently, using the divide and conquer method. Students divided themselves, within their own teams, by task. Some students measured the old and new library shelving and spaces, while others recorded measurements. Others converted measurements to area, while some began researching design elements or building new online blue-prints. During exit interviews, held toward the end of the project, students were asked to reflect on their experience. Many echoed that they felt their collaboration and interpersonal skills had grown. What had started as a challenge for many, working in teams, had turned into a rewarding experience. Students reflected feeling much stronger in math measurement skills as a result of the project. An insightful comment surfaced the following year, as students walked through the new library to the technology lab, to begin yet another philanthropy project. A student thoughtfully exclaimed, “Hey, I just thought of something. We are walking through one philanthropy project to begin another.” Students claimed the project as their own, something they had created for their school community to enjoy. Their confidence was evident. Word spread about the project. A team of students presented to the school board, followed later by an interview in the local paper. Students recently Skyped with another school wanting to undertake a similar project. They are impacting their world, making a difference, one project at a time.

PBS Program/Content Used