Imagine a detective show in which a thief steals chloroplasts from a plant cell rendering it unable to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. When Mackintosh Littleton teacher Alison Weems challenged her middle school students to design creative presentations demonstrating their understanding of photosynthesis and respiration, that detective show was just one of the original ways the students met the challenge.
Another group of students created a puppet show starring the sun. In another corner of the room, a group pulled out their computers and started putting together a digital visual presentation which they later incorporated into a TV News production. The fourth group chose to use physical theater to interpret the processes of photosynthesis and respiration through dance movements with props. One intrepid individual wrote a humorous script for a television talk show — all about photosynthesis and cellular respiration.
In addition to the creativity, motivation, and interest their projects generated throughout the process, the students actively practiced essential skills: leadership, group decision-making, planning, and risk-taking.
To wrap up the unit, the middle school students shared their presentations with an audience of Mackintosh Littleton first and second graders. The room swelled with questions, laughter, applause, and an incredible level of engagement. At Mackintosh Academy, providing students with the opportunities to approach learning and to demonstrate understanding in creative and innovative ways is a core part of what we do.