School Spotlight: Sonnesyn’s “Awesome Projects”
If you step into the hallways at Sonnesyn Elementary School this spring, you’ll see something that doesn’t fall short of awesome.
“The fifth grade here, 85 students, are doing awesome projects,” said Linda Dowson, the fifth grade resource teacher that organized the assignment. “We wanted students to pick a project that they wanted to do that would help someone else.”
There were parameters. Students had to create a project that would take at least two hours of time to complete. It had to benefit someone other than other fifth grade students at Sonnesyn. The projects had to be approved by a teacher and supervised by a teacher. Then, students had to give presentations on their projects.
Students responded in a way that pleased staff members.
DJ Berding decided to help out with recycling in the building. He picked up recycling in classrooms for about a week.
“I think it could help younger kids and maybe inspire them to do this too,” said Berding.
Many students shared their knowledge or talents with younger students.
Christabel Ochako taught kindergarteners a lesson in Swahili. She knew it would be a topic that would interest young kids.
“Usually I want to teach my friends Swahili and they want to know it,” said Ochako.
Some students took their skill set outside to give first graders tips in basketball and football.
“We’re here to teach them to be a professional basketball player when they are older,” said Alpha Combay, confidently.
The students might not be up to professional caliber after the lesson, but the student teachers were proud of what their young pupils learned.
“I’ve seen kids get more improvement,” said Carlito Gonzalez.
Another student said the project gave him a glimpse of what he might want to do someday.
“I want to be a football coach when I get older,” said Talley Dweh.
The Take Away
The purpose of the project was to encourage students to think about other people and be kind. It’s the capstone of social-emotional learning that they’ve been working on all year.
Student Madeline Briener, who was working with kindergarten students on counting and coloring, summed up the main point of the lesson.
“It’s better to help others than help yourself,” said Briener.
Which is exactly what teachers wanted students to take away.
“I hope the students realize they can do awesome things,” said Dowson. “When they help other people , that can make them happy but it can also make a lot of other people happy. I’m really proud of them this year.”