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Junior Journalist Update from Lincoln Prairie – By Sophia S.

Have you ever heard of something new and interesting, and wanted to try it? No, not the new iPhone, but a language, a skill, or maybe even a magic trick. What if you could experience this during the school day, in a classroom, with a teacher present, but the students teaching themselves?

A girl takes a photo with a cameraAt Lincoln Prairie, we have something called PDT, which stands for Project Development Time. During this period, students from all grades usually work together to complete a project based on what topic their PDT focuses on. This trimester’s session, however, was separated by grade clusters. That was not the only thing that was different this time around.

For this term of PDTs, the middle-level students (sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders) targeted a concept called Makerspace. This is an approach that allows pupils to come up with their own game plan in order to master a certain topic. This means that based on the PDTs, which vary from learning a new language to perfecting a hat trick, kids were to master a skill during the 40-minute sessions in the class. The point of this is to learn something new by making a goal, creating action steps, and spending every PDT working toward that objective. Students had access to the equipment and technology they needed to reach their ambitions. Teachers are in the room, but they are simply there to provide supervision and occasional guidance. At the end of the trimester, all students share their newfound knowledge with their class.

“I enjoyed that I got to take what I learned home and apply it to my life,” says Isabella, a member of the Training Animals PDT. She spent her time doing research on how to train her dog, and concluded the trimester with teaching her dog a routine using the tricks she picked up.

“I enjoyed that I got to take pictures of friends and got to experiment with the camera,” stated Lauren, a participant in the Photography PDT. She used her time by researching different styles of photography and playing with different cameras, settings and editing software. Her final product consisted of candid photos of friends, one of which is pictured in this story.

The idea of taking something that you aren’t really familiar with and independently using resources so that you can understand it better is a skill that we could all use – as students, in the workforce, or even just for pleasure. As a technique that is used a lot in the future, isn’t it important that the skill is developed at a young age?