Students present the history of Nintendo and YouTube to learn public speaking and research skills

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Eighth graders at Woodland Middle School learn how to research effectively and develop public speaking skills by selecting exciting topics to present to their class with Colleen Scott’s Inquiry Project assignment.

Students create presentations based on topics they choose ranging from the history of Nintendo to the development of submarines.
Students create presentations based on topics they choose ranging from the history of Nintendo to the development of submarines. 

Students choose topics of their own development ranging from the history of Nintendo and YouTube to the creation and development of submarines. “Inquiry is the process of asking questions and problem-solving which involves searching for answers that are significant to the learner and finding ways to examine and research those questions,” said Scott. “This project requires students to take even more ownership of their learning as much of the project is self-directed.”

Scott takes her class to the library for an entire week where students use books, magazines, journals, scholarly articles, and the Internet to research their topic and develop their presentations. Students choose how they want to demonstrate their learning to the class by creating scrapbooks, dioramas, and other objects. This year, students created models of the solar system, trivia games, waterfalls, and a variety of other engaging displays.

Judeah Sanders created a trivia game so he could present the history of the famous video game manufacturer, Nintendo.
Judeah Sanders created a trivia game so he could present the history of the famous video game manufacturer, Nintendo. 

Judeah Sanders, an eighth grader, created a trivia game to present the history of Nintendo, the video game maker famous for the Super Mario Bros. series which started business as a card game manufacturer decades ago. “Nintendo’s entry into the video game industry was complicated because of a huge crash in video games during the 1980s,” explained Sanders to the class. “In order to make their first game system appeal to the American audience, they had to call it the ‘Nintendo Entertainment System’ because American consumers didn’t want to buy video games at the time.”

Scott started using the project with her classes after seeing another teacher use the idea. “Students loved the project so much the first year that I expanded on it for the second year,” said Scott. “We wanted to have student buy-in so the projects would hold more meaning to each individual student by having them pick the topics themselves.”

Scott finds students take more ownership of their own learning with the Inquiry Project because they select their own research topic.
Scott finds students take more ownership of their own learning with the Inquiry Project because they select their own research topic. 

By giving students the opportunity to own their learning by making the project self-directed, Scott finds that this kind of project permits students to learn at their own pace. Students also learn the importance of time management as the project takes several weeks to complete. “Every student learns differently, and projects like this one lend themselves to students who might not necessarily be academic but still have a love for hands-on learning,” she said. Over the years, Scott has seen a variety of projects with her favorite being the history of Willy Wonka candy when the student created a colorful candy jar filled with all kinds of candy. “The project was colorful, fun, and educational,” said Scott.

Scott has taught for 31 years all at Woodland Middle School. “My favorite part of teaching is having an impact on students and seeing them as ‘whole’ people,” she said. “I see my students as unique individuals whose potential may have not been tapped, yet – I love my job because of the kids I work with every day!”

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