“You have been asked to submit a proposal for the design of the front entrance of the new school. The school design committee would like the centre piece of the front entrance to be made of stained glass and to tell a story about what the school is about . . .”
This was the guantlet Mr. Lobb and Mr. Boschman threw down in front of their grade 6 classes at Edmonton Christian West School in early February. To meet this challenge, the students would have to write a proposal with some specific requirements and later would need to reflect on their design (Language Arts curriculum). Their proposal would also need to demonstrate some specific knowledge of angles and geometric shapes needed to design their stained glass and demonstrate their ability to use a protractor (Mathematics curriculum). Included would have to be a sketch of their stained glass design and a model made of paper that met design specifications (Art curriculum). In all of this, they would need to rely on their learning community and available resources to find solutions to problems they faced or skills they lacked and they would have to meet proposal deadlines. “It’s a project I did almost no ‘instructing’ on,” shared grade 6 teacher Mr. Lobb. “The kids had to figure things out.”
The result? Some deep learning and some intriguing design proposals some of which may need to be considered for the proposed new West school building.
“I was trying to show the dove from Noah’s ark and how it was a symbol for life. God always has a plan. God has a plan for our school.” Gianna
“I made the cross stand out from the rest to show this is a good Christian school.” Nina
“I just wanted mine to show a miracle–water into wine.” Sienna
I included the cross so that people would know we are Christian. I used yellow around the cross because the cross shines out. It was something that was meant for killing, but it saved us!” Lana
There were many more thoughtful and colourful designs from these classes and many student reflections on the learning that happened:
“I liked it because it had Art in it and a mixture of other subjects.”
“I like how part of the learning was helping others with their challenges.”
“I learned all the different quadrilaterals, and before this, I didn’t even know what a protractor was.”
“It was fun, but I did get stressed out a bit with the design. I learned I needed 4 drafts to get it right.”
Of course this project also made the students think about the school they attend. Micah, who came to Edmonton Christian West School in grade 4 designed a stain glass showing someone who had fallen being picked up by someone else:
“I have been at schools where people just bring you down. Here, people will lift you up. Our school is caring and helping. It’s safe here.”
In this assignment, Grade 6 students both discovered and created order and beauty in God’s world. They grew in their writing and art skills and reflected on the role their school has in God’s story.
Challenge accepted. Lessons learned!
by Brian Doornenbal