Do you remember the first time that you stood in front of a group of people and gave a presentation? Did you feel excited? Prepared? Nervous? All of the above?
Seventh and eighth grade students present eight academic exhibitions over the course of two years as a part of their graduation requirement. After weeks of preparation, they stand before an audience. They present research and artifacts that demonstrate an understanding of essential questions, critical and creative thinking, alternate perspectives, relevance, and connections.
Yesterday seventh grade students presented their science exhibitions for fifth grade students. Before the fifth grade arrived, nervous energy filled the exhibition rooms. But even with a few last minute preparations, seventh grade students were ready.
Finishing touches on a demonstration about the immune system.
Once the exhibitions were underway, seventh grade students quickly found their footing. The fifth grade made for a very engaged audience. (Read about multi-grade learning.) They have been studying the body in a unit on health. As you can see, the seventh grade exhibitions were a natural fit.
A look at the bones of the hand.
How the sense of taste works.
How you see.
The auditory system.
Multiple Sclerosis and its effects on the brain.
The digestive system.
The science exhibitions were the third set of exhibitions by the seventh grade. Students completed an art exhibition in November and a history exhibition in February. And they don’t just present in front of other students. Often the audience includes family members, teachers, advisors, peers, and other adults.
It is a tall order.
At the beginning of seventh grade, students often doubt that they can do this kind of work. But by the time they give their last exhibition in June of eighth grade, many, if not all, are comfortable defending their ideas and work in front of a mixed audience.
Later today the eighth grade will present their math academic exhibitions, the second to last of the eight exhibitions. I don’t know if they’ll remember how it felt to do the exhibitions last year. But I do know that they will boldly show us their readiness and competence to face in many of life’s demands, including high school level work.