Multilayered learning

Eagleton Middle’s ‘Novel Project’ brought together many themes

At Eagleton Middle School, learning is achieved by using many elements and tools. At the end of the school year last year, the seventh grade teachers put together a Novel Project for the students. The project brought in all disciplines: Language, art, history and geography, science and math.

Seventh grade teacher Christen Williamson helped put together the first Novel Project this past May. She, along with other seventh grade teachers, chose a theme of “traveling” for the students to work with. They read the book “Rules of the Road” by Joan Bauer.

“This was a great time to focus on a novel, since it was right after TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program.) This was a great group effort,” Williams said.

After the students read the book, they began creating the elements of learning about traveling. For the art aspect, art teacher Yvonne Wells helped the students create giant shoes.

The students also painted banners to represent each state that the characters from the book traveled to, representing the historical and geographical aspect of the novel.

Students focused on the science element by creating a replica of the layers of the earth. In “Rules of the Road,” there is a reference made to how many steps it would take to get around the circumference of the earth. To find the answer to these questions, the students used their math skills.

Students were also able to gain understanding on some social and emotional issues from the book. The main character’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease. Bobby Fields, from the Alzheimer’s Association, came to speak to the students.

“He helped them learn more about the disease and, ultimately, learn ways to help others who are struggling with the Alzheimer’s. He was a great speaker. The kids loved him.” Williamson said.

Other speakers came regarding the alcoholism aspect that the book discusses. The main character’s father is an alcoholic, and the students were given the opportunity to learn more about the dangers and precautions of alcohol and alcoholism.

Students put together a slideshow of pictures from all of their hard work. The sixth and eighth grade students were invited to come watch the slideshow presentation at the end of the project.

“This was a huge project and very demanding, but I may attempt to do it again in the spring. Until then, we will be undertaking several smaller book projects for the new year,” Williamson said.

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