JLI in High-Opportunity PPS School

While studying ancient civilizations, sixth graders at Portland’s George Middle School are doing more than memorizing (arti)facts. In partnership with Social Studies Teacher Emily Shultz, the JLI has created a three month, once-a-week project that blends archaeology with journalism. Students will work collaboratively to select artifacts of interest, conduct research, interview experts, and then write, produce, and present stories.

“Just like journalists, students will research credible sources and suggest experts to interview, in this case, people who know about ancient civilizations,” said JLI Program Manager Ryan Nakano. “Interviewees will video-conference or come into the classroom and then students will work in teams to prepare and showcase what they’ve learned using their digital literacy and technology skills.

“We intend to boost student voice by empowering students to purposefully direct and own their individual learning while shaping the education experience amongst their peers.”

Research indicates that students who believe they have a voice in school are seven times more likely to be academically motivated than those who do not feel they have a voice (Quaglia Institute for School Voice and Aspirations, 2016).

“Learning through activities that are meaningful and relevant to learners—and driven by their interest—build the critical thinking and problem-solving skills students need to thrive,” said JLI Executive Director Ed Madison. “Students actively engaged in their education build deeper understanding of content, and these deep questioners will be key to having college and workforce ready young people.”

George seventh graders will use JLI to study guilds in the Middle Ages; eighth graders will examine social justice issues.

“I am excited to work with the JLI,” said Shultz. “To give students an opportunity to research and write about topics that interest them will be a huge motivator in the classroom! Opportunities for authentic writing will provide students with a learning opportunity that connects to their lives and will inspire them to become lifelong, learners, thinkers, and writers.”

This is JLI’s first foray into George Middle School and the Portland Public School district. The George project is supported by Nancy and Dave Petrone, The Charlotte Martin Foundation, and Umpqua Bank.

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