Middle school hatches ‘Idea’ class
The Fairfield Middle School wants its students to not only think outside the box, but also outside the classroom walls.
This fall, the middle school has begun a class that encourages eighth-graders to design projects that help their community. The teachers thought the class was such a great idea they decided to call it, “Idea.”
Idea is a class eighth-graders may take during sixth hour if they do not need additional instruction in reading or math. Four teachers teach four separate sections of the course. The teachers involved are Scott Mumford, Becky Granneman, David Owen and Josh Allison.
The exact lesson plan for the year is in a state of flux as the teachers gauge the projects that are most useful for the students. The first unit of the year lasted three weeks and was on people who have changed the world. The students researched a historical figure and explained how that person made the world a better place.
Mumford said the students were particularly fond of profiling recent inventors and industrialists, people such as Henry Ford, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. They also profiled the inventors of the microphone, the car and the stove.
Their current unit, Unit 2, requires the students to venture outside the classroom. Instead of learning about others who have changed the world, it’s the students’ turn to change the world.
Middle school principal Laura Atwood said “Idea” ties directly into the professional development the teachers do every Wednesday morning. She said the purpose of “Idea” is to get students to facilitate their own learning, construct their own knowledge and take it outside the school building.
Some students have devised a plan to remodel the middle school’s courtyard. Others, such as the trio of Shayla Spray, Hailey Patrick and Marissa Heifner, are putting on a fundraiser.
The three girls are raising money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass. They will hold a run/walk from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 26 in Fairfield. They will have booths in Central Park, where the walk will begin, as well as booths in parks throughout town.
The Fairfield VFW has agreed to send 10 volunteers to help Shayla, Hailey and Marissa with their fundraiser. The girls will provide water to the participants and raise money by selling T-shirts, granola bars, apples and juice. Mumford has encouraged his students to tie their project into the Blue Zones initiative. Hailey said that is why her group is selling healthy food and discouraging participants from eating fast food that day.
In addition to the projects, the students are responsible for keeping a blog where they record the progress they’ve made and let the community know of updates to their events.
Hailey said the group has divided the work based on what each person is comfortable doing. For instance, Hailey said she feels comfortable speaking in large groups, so she is responsible for giving public addresses on the event. She is accustomed to dealing with the public because she and her friend, Madison, sold jewelry for several years at the Fairfield Farmers’ Market.
Shayla, on the other hand, is more comfortable calling people on the phone to ask for volunteers or donations, so that’s what she does.
The three girls all have friends or relatives who have suffered from cancer. They said they were also moved to help cancer victims when they learned through Facebook that people had made insensitive comments about young cancer victims. The girls wish to visit the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital this year or next and give toys to the kids there.
Those interested in learning more about the fundraiser can contact Shayla at firstname.lastname@example.org, Hailey at email@example.com and visit their blog at haileylynnpatrick.blogspot.com.