Learning about mathematics, practicing interview skills and creating a sense of belonging may not seem to be related. But sixth graders at Bala Cynwyd Middle School took part in a unique interdisciplinary project that helped them learn not only about those subjects, but also more about one another.
Teachers Ed O'Brien and Andrea Tzabari created the project, which spanned several weeks and incorporated language arts, math, research and interviewing skills, and lessons on overcoming adversity. The presentations that were the end result of the students' work supported the Lower Merion School District goals in the areas of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging by demonstrating that although students may come from different backgrounds, they may have similar interests and their families may share similar stories.
Students chose three subjects to profile for this project: a celebrity, a well-known figure related to mathematics and a family member whom they consider successful. Students were then tasked with researching the celebrity and the academic and with interviewing the family member to find answers to common questions, including how mathematics has contributed to the person's life, different groups they choose to identify with, and how they may have faced and overcome adversity or discrimination.
Once the students conducted their research, they prepared three presentation pages, one for each subject. Students held a series of gallery walks to read each other's presentations and left one another notes describing what they liked, found interesting or would like to have seen done differently.
In the process, students learned that they had family members who similar jobs, that famous celebrities and their own relatives faced and overcame similar instances discrimination, and about how math is applicable to many different careers.
The students weren't the only ones who learned from the project. Teachers said they learned more about the students, enabling them to build stronger relationships, which are crucial to ensuring that every student feels a sense of belonging in school. #LMSDBuildingBelonging
Please click below to see a slide show featuring the students' work.