I just finished my first year in Summit Learning as a 6th grader at Creekside Intermediate School in Dexter, Michigan. As I look back on this year, I cannot help but reflect on what I’ve learned.
Sure, the Focus Areas have taught me more than I thought possible in a single year, and yes, I’ve enjoyed choosing how to spend my time throughout the year, but the one single thing I think that Summit Learning has over traditional classroom is working on Summit Learning Projects.
Here are a few reasons I have found that Projects are truly exceptional both in their curriculum and in their life teachings for me.
1) With Summit Learning Projects, I Learn More Deeply About Each Topic.
I like that the topics for the Projects we work on feel relevant to me, and the project assignments themselves dive deeper into the topics I’m studying than I’ve ever experienced in a traditional classroom.
For example, in a traditional classroom, one project I worked on was picking a planet and writing about what I’d bring to it.
With Summit Learning, now my projects are more in-depth. In my Ski Extravaganza project, I was provided profiles of a parent and a child with specific needs who are going to a ski resort. I had to plan a complete three-day trip for them, including lodging, rentals, lessons, ski tickets, and more, and then create a comprehensive brochure.
The “traditional” project made us list well-known facts; Summit Learning projects had us deeply developing real-world skills I may use when I’m older.
2) I Will Use the New Skills I Learn from Summit Learning Projects for a Lifetime.
As I am about to wrap up sixth grade, the first real project I experienced was the Mystery Box Project in Science.
In this project, you have to create a box where when you pour water in and it exits as a different color.
Unlike a traditional classroom project, the assignment didn’t come with directions. Instead of being handed a box of crayons and being told to draw a flower with yellow petals, I felt that for the first time ever, I was shown a box of supplies and told to make something pretty.
I learned to experiment, test, and keep a positive mindset. I worked really hard on building a really successful box. I was extremely proud of myself by the end of the project — yet another thing Summit taught me.
3) I found the Summit Learning Project Topics Relevant to the Real World and What I’ll Need to Know as I Grow Older.
In two projects this year, Shrinking the Human Footprint and Climate Change, we learned about climate change: how it is happening, why it is of the highest importance to stop it, and how we can.
There is a high chance one of my peers, or perhaps myself, will work as, say, a bioengineer in our future. Those projects introduced us to the topic, sparking our passions.
4) Summit Learning Projects Have Shown Me the Correlation Between Effort and Success.
At the beginning of the year, we were all told that the projects were the most important part of our grade (70%). I took this to heart and gave my best effort on all of the projects. At this point, I can honestly say that everyone has learned to give effort, yet another quality I did not feel was being demonstrated in traditional classrooms.
5) Summit Learning Projects Inspire Me To Continue Thinking Outside of the Classroom.
Most of our projects, specifically science projects, have emphasized big-picture questions and possible solutions. For the first time in my education “career”, I began thinking about topics outside the classroom and brainstorming solutions.
Some days, in fact, I’d come home to my parents and say, “Did you know (X)?” or “Guess what I learned today!” or perhaps “So, in school we were learning about (X) and I thought that to fix it we could (Y). Do you think that could be a solution in the future?” I think this sold my parents on Summit Learning as well.
So, why does this all matter? I believe that with all these things I’m learning, I’m better prepared for my future than if I hadn’t experienced Summit Learning. After all, life skills are the most important thing you learn in school, and Summit Learning makes it easy to learn them.
Want to read more about how students have experienced Summit Learning? Explore stories told by and about Summit Learning students across the country on the Student Voices section of the Summit Learning Blog.