H.H. Wells Twenty Percent Projects

Students on the H.H. Wells Middle School 7th grade white team are involved in year long 20% projects, and today five groups in Ms. Allen and Ms. Gargano’s collaborative mentor group shared their progress and ideas.  These included what problem they had set out to solve and the plans they had made to successfully impact a cause for which they are passionate. The projects were varied and each group successfully presented their progress to their teachers and classmates.

One group of three girls set out to do a different project each month that would benefit others in the community and beyond.  This month they are doing a toy drive for a children’s hospital in Westchester and next month they plan on visiting senior citizens in a local retirement home.

Another student shared with the class his goal of creating a handbook on poison ivy.  His goal was to raise awareness because he has suffered from poison ivy many times.  “I hate it when it happens to me,” he said.  “I don’t want other people to deal with it.”  His action plan includes a small booklet which contains facts.  For example, “If you get it on your shoelaces and tie your shoes,” he said, “if you then sweat and wipe your face, it can transfer.”

Two girls set out to solve problems related to smoking by preventing people from ever starting.  Their plans included a machine that, “hugs you really hard to make it hard to breath so you can feel how it feels to be a smoker.”  They are currently working on a prototype.

Allowing more time for homework and preventing sleep deprivation was the motivation for three boys who are working on a campaign to modify schedules on specific days. They developed a model that will allow students to sleep an extra hour on PLC days–similar to a model at the high school–and which will also allow a study hall for students who struggle to finish homework.  They shared the struggle some student athletes have when they practice from 5:00 to 8:30pm and have limited time for homework. The team plans to present their case to Principal Clarke when the project is completed.

The last group to present during the class consisted of two girls who want to provide assistance to the Putnam Humane Society.  They will research the greatest areas of need and hold a series of bake sales to raise money.  One of the girls will foster a dog for several months, and the other has adopted a kitten.

Using 20% projects to inspire passion based learning is powerful.  The entire 7th grade white team, consisting of Katie Allen, Nora Johnston, Jon Martin, Diane Czarnik, and Marisa Garganoher collaborate during lunches and team meeting time to work on this project. The students are thoroughly engaged, and will continue with such projects throughout the year.

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