On a day when the school districts across the state were all experiencing an Internet outage, Marion County Middle School students were completing a hands-on project to extend their learning of the novel The Night Gardener. A statewide problem left teachers and students in Marion County without access to email or the Internet for most of the day. However, that wasn’t an issue for Mrs. Kim Wright’s students as they put the finishing touches on their own personal wishing tree.
Based on a magical tree from the novel, the project included a class “Paint Party” where students painted on canvas a scene that prominently featured a tree. Wright enlisted the help of former MCPS art teacher Amy Martin to lead students through the painting process.
On the following day, students glued decorations on their paintings to personalize the project.
In the novel, the “Wishing Tree” grants wishes. So, students were tasked with decorating the painting with images, items, or even quotes that were especially personal to them.
“I love doing things that are hands-on,” sixth-grader Foster Hall said. “I’m an outdoors person, so of course I’m going to like doing things like this.”
Hall said he planned to add quotes associated with fishing for his project.
Classmate Michaela Daugherty said her favorite part of the project was being able to “decorate the tree with something personal to me.” She enjoyed reading the book, as well.
“It was kind of spooky and mysterious, but it ended up really good,” Daugherty said. “It was definitely creative.”
So were the students projects.
Some students glued coins, buttons, or other art supplies on their painting, while others opted to search for quotes that were especially meaningful.
The students read the novel and completed the project during Lead time -- a daily period where students receive some form of either academic intervention or enrichment.
“These are the types of projects that inspire creative thinking that we want all of our students to participate in,” MCPS Superintendent Taylora Schlosser said. “It’s always exciting to see our teachers finding unique ways to personalize learning and create learning experiences -- not just assignments.”