“Project ME grew out of the idea that we wanted to celebrate the accomplishments and growth of all students at the end of the school year,” said H.C. Crittenden Middle School Principal, Ms. Kim Lapple. “We were striving to acknowledge students’ individual growth in addition to the traditional achievement-based model.”
This plan was centered on the collaboration with Challenge Success, an organization that works to help foster learners who are healthy, motivated, and better prepared for adult life. Ms. Lapple and her staff knew they aspired to integrate the concept of ‘growth over grades’ and honor all students.
The year-long search of how to define student success was set in motion. There were many discussions with the HCC faculty who looked at various prototypes before determining the most beneficial one for their student community. Project ME transpired after thoughtful research and consideration from stakeholders. The project’s goal is to build and foster a community where personal growth and self-reflection are foundational values.
“Project ME benefited from a vision that came from professional development that some of our HCC teachers were engaged in,” said Ms. Lapple. “Members of our faculty participated in a year-long workshop experience that centered on the work learned at High Tech High (HTH). The HTH concept began in a single high school in California and has grown to include a network of schools where students pursue their passions through project-based learning.”
As teachers were developing their own units, they were inspired by the impact of HTH and wanted their students to have an empowering middle school experience. Their vision propelled Project ME to be an innovative way to culminate the year. They felt the components of this project would go hand in hand with their mission while complimenting the District initiative of emotional wellness.
Project ME focuses on the idea of becoming an active learner. The goal is to allow students to explore what active learning means to them. As a result, students will be more present in their own learning, make their own decisions and then reflect upon their decisions.
The process will begin with each student identifying a behavior, disposition or mindset that they feel is necessary to become a more active learner. To aid in this work, there will be monthly meetings where students will be placed in squads, consisting of small student groups of mixed grade levels, and a faculty facilitator who will share and support each other through their work.
“Last year, in our Voice Circles, students expressed a desire for more opportunities to interact with other grades. Project ME honors this feedback, said ” Mr. Angelo Ancona, H.C.Crittenden Middle School’s Assistant Principal.
Students will track their personal progress throughout the year and document their advancements in a digital portfolio. They will also collect and retain artifacts as evidence during the process. “At the end of the year, Project ME will be shared through the student’s digital portfolio and the ‘Presentation of Learning’ about their growth through time,” Ms. Lapple said. Students will present to their squad and other audience members which helps to build confidence and strong communication skills.
“Students will reflect on their successes and struggles and celebrate their hard work and accomplishments. They will also be asked to consider other ways they can grow into the next school year,” said Ms. Lapple. Through the exploration of Project ME, HCC students will have a better understanding of themselves both personally and academically. This is a very positive way to end the school year.