In an effort to make learning more interactive and fun for the students in our Transitions Therapeutic School, we started student showcases during the 2013-14 school year, and we will continue them in the upcoming 2014-15 year. At the end of each month of the school year, our students and staff hosted a “gallery” where they displayed their work, be it art projects, writing examples, or other themed projects related to a particular era in history. Before the school year started, we decided to use a historical framework to organize the topics. We started out with ancient history and worked our way forward concluding with the 21st century and the future.
The idea for the showcases started from a desire to incorporate more hands-on projects in our school programming, to use as a way to have similar themes throughout the entire school. As an education team, we attempted to model the concept of a “gallery” by displaying paintings made during a team-building activity and asking for feedback from the students and other SaintA staff.
The first few months were definitely trial and error. Each classroom needed to figure out what worked best for the educators and their students. Some classes did more art-related projects; others used the showcases as a time to show off work they already had been doing.
In the end, the student showcases were a huge success with our students. They started demonstrating a much greater investment in their school work, and the overall quality of their work improved. Students were heard commenting about needing to do a better job on their work because they wanted to be proud of what was being displayed.
When asked what they remembered most about this past school year, students commented:
“When my Mom came and saw my work at the showcase.”
“Making the inventions and using our imagination about what the future may be like.”
“The showcase where we did our graduation, where people could see our work and the graduation.”
Echoing the students’ feelings, our Transitions staff were very proud of the boys’ work. Plus, staff from around SaintA who typically do not interact with the boys got the chance to spend some time with them at the showcases, get to know them better and offer their admiration and support. This exposure to a larger group of caring adults also bolstered our focus on the healing power of relationships.
Here are some examples of what our students produced:
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