Friday, January 13, 2017

People Throughout History

The first week back from the holiday break is always notable in the middle school because this is when we kick off our participation in the University of Michigan's Place Out of Time project. This online forum requires students to take on the character of a historical figure (some schools permit literary characters; in the interest of historical research, SK does not). Hundreds of students from schools in Michigan and Ohio debate a topic posed by the U of M staff. This year's question, in its simplest form, is Does poverty excuse theft? Online participation is monitored, facilitated, and discussed by a staff of faculty and graduate students at the university. This week, our students began the process of selecting characters, a protocol that requires selecting three candidates, researching them, and writing brief biographies of each. 

It is notable that, when launched about a decade ago, Place Out of Time was originally slated to be a high school project only. It was Summers-Knoll's relationship with the project's founders that convinced them to include fifth through eighth graders.

We also are returning to our work, inspired by human rights documents, in proposing a homeroom constitution. We use a December assignment prioritizing various rights and responsibilities and will advance next week to another simulation--that of the American Constitutional Convention.

Finally, we are beginning our reading and production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, this year's 7-8 play. Hooray! This students (cast) watched a plot summary and began reading the script aloud. Twelfth Night will be performed three times, once during the school day and twice in the evening. The dates are April 28-29.

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