Out of the Shadows: Bringing Stories from World History to Life

PROJECTHINK

BY EARL YOUNG, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY SEP 18, 2020

Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences teacher Sarah Sheppard wanted her sixth graders to tackle information they couldn’t copy from a book. A grant of just $130 made that possible for her group of 100 students, including 35 special needs and 25 low-performing students. 

 “Students chose topics of interest related to our current unit on ancient Greece and Rome,” Sheppard said. “They worked together in cooperative learning groups to gather research. Rather than just presenting their research in the typical report, they created scripts that were presented as shadow puppet shows.”

  Students were able to demonstrate deep understanding of the topics they chose to research, and Sheppard was able to gauge her students’ authentic understanding and learning. “This was not something that they could just copy out of a book. They incorporated literacy, arts integration, and content area knowledge,” Sheppard said.

The project pushed students out of their comfort zones. One student, who had been struggling in class all year, initially was very apprehensive about working in a group for this project. By the third day of working on the project, she was engaged and communicating with her group, Sheppard reported. “What really amazed me was hearing her voice during her group's presentation,” Sheppard said. “This project helped her find confidence and a sense of belonging, along with helping her understand the academic content.”

 Classroom grants allow teachers to bring learning to life for their students. “I continuously am grateful for funding from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County for projects that energize the classroom, both for teachers and students,” Sheppard said.

 “The funding allows for the purchase of books and materials that otherwise would be inaccessible. Through these projects, students forever are changed,” Sheppard said. Sheppard planned to allow students to do an additional shadow puppetry show in late spring of 2020. COVID-19 derailed that plan. However, Sheppard plans to use purchased materials to replicate the project in subsequent school years.  

EducateSRQ is the teacher and classroom grants signature program of The Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

Click for more information on the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

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