Middle School Students Explore Their Passions

If you could learn about anything in school, what would you choose?

Seventh- and eighth-grade students in Alicia Burns’ English Language Arts classes at George Fischer Middle School ended the school year contemplating that very question.

 Welding by Jack Roberts (gr. 8)For a project designed to explore their passions, students had free rein to research anything they wanted to learn more about: career fields, skills, hobbies, or even the history of the location for Woodstock.

"I enjoyed being able to research a topic I like without boundaries,” said eighth-grade student Will Connors. “I was able to get comfortable looking up something I really enjoy, instead of being limited to one strict topic."

The students then had the option to present the research to their classmates, with some students demonstrating new skills that they had learned. Student Jack Roberts explored the art of welding and showed off photos of himself in full welding safety gear cutting a piece of metal with a plasma cutter. Student Joseph Balem researched how to build a wooden chair and chose to build one to show off his newfound passion.

"I've learned that sometimes I can learn about things that I never thought I'd want to learn about,” said Madelyn Bruce, seventh-grade student. “Sometimes, I should go outside my comfort zone, and I might learn more."

The projects also tasked students with exploring their preferred learning styles, and, across the board, they all learned that they need persistence and determination in order to succeed.

“This has been a difficult year and I am so proud of my students for their efforts right up until the end of the year,” remarked Burns. “Their research, creativity, critical thinking skills, and engagement was at an all-time high, even in June, and their passion projects are truly amazing!”