Holman students dream up ideas for products to benefit society
Holman students dream up ideas for products to benefit society
Monday, November 11, 2019
Eighth grade English language arts teachers at Holman Middle School challenged their students to create a product that would benefit society. The students presented their inventions to classmates through an Innovation Challenge where they were judged on their design, concept and presentation.

“We came up with a pair of shoes that’s controlled by an app and can change colors,” Ceniya Smith said.

“We’re making an AI (artificial intelligence) robot that can help you with chores,” Alexandria Nunn said.

“I’m creating a car that will keep you safe,” Javan Zikpi said.

Groups advanced to a final stage of presentations after being selected by classmates as the winners in each of Maegan Bowersox and Jessica Smith's classes. The winning group of three students developed a surgically implanted contact lens to help with forgetfulness, public vulnerability, timeliness and staying on task. They were given a trophy and a gift card.

The English language arts teachers wanted to make learning personal.

“We really want to focus on who they are first and foremost as a learner,” Bowersox said. “Instead of just pushing them through this lock-step system where we're moving on whether they've got it or not, we value them and we would like to give them an opportunity to show us what they can do, to show us what they need help in and how they prefer to learn so we really emphasize voice and choice for students.”

Desks are not set up in rows with the teacher lecturing in front of the classroom during class time.

“We have conferences with each student, we check in with their concept and we check in with their progress so we can coach them,” Bowersox said. “We give them feedback about next steps and what they've accomplished so far. At that point, the students really learn how to manage and drive their own learning.”

Students don’t receive traditional letter grades on their report card. Instead, they are being scored with competency-based grading.

“The way that we're doing competency-based grading, I feel we're specifically looking at what you know and what you don't know,” Smith said.

Competency based-scoring shows teachers and students more about their skill level than a letter grade does.

“I don't really have to stress about my grades,” eighth grader Arianna Atkins said. “I really like the class because if I get something wrong, I can redo it and prove that I know it. Grades are not really like you know it, it’s just trying to do it the right way to get a good grade.”

This unit was featured during a professional development session for all certified staff on Nov. 1, and Bowersox sees the benefits to it beyond just her classroom.

“I see personalized learning, especially as we shift to this as a school-wide system, really equipping our students to not just graduate and do okay, but to thrive in the future.”

Find out more.

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Above and below, Holman Middle School students present their ideas before a panel of judges at an innovation showcase.


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