Student work has certainly changed since many of us teachers and parents were in school. I remember countless assignments—both the teacher’s assignments and my products—that never seemed to have any creativity injected in them. I remember the occasional project, the one that required a shoebox, some poster board, a bag of styrofoam balls, a lot of glue, and a lot of imagination. (Typically my audience needed the imagination to see what I swore was there, “Really! It’s the solar system. Can't you see that?!”) None of those daily assignments, those papers, or those projects ever had any value for me beyond the grade it was giving me, and today they lay buried somewhere in the green-gridded wasteland of a retired teacher’s grade book.
After twenty years in the classroom, I shudder to think just how much of my students’ imagination and hard work lays entombed in those grade books I refuse to throw away.
Students produce amazing work, especially using technology. Routinely, a student’s work towers over what he thinks he’s capable of creating. Then, that student’s work begins to tower over the work of others. When that happens, students enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and I am done robbing them of that sense the moment I record and return a grade. In order to convince students how important any given school task is, we have to give it value. We have to make it important. We must put their work and their accomplishments in a real world context.
This website puts the work of our students on display. It showcases their academic achievements. It gives students a chance to take ownership of their work and to have pride in it far more effectively and inspiringly than a grade book ever could or will. Finally, it promises what they have yet to do. It is their portfolio.
Susan C. Westbrook
The Work of DERRICK DANIEL, Class of 2016, Griffin
DESIGNING, STYLING, AND CONSTRUCTING ZOMBIE PROOF BUNKERS (IN THE EVENT OF A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE) by Andrew Rice, Class of 2017, Westbrook
PREVIEW FOR THE ENGLISH II HOLOCAUST PROJECT MOVIES by Mrs. Westbrook
AUSCHWITZ by Taylor Hiscocks, Class of 2017, Westbrook
HOMOSEXUALS AND THE HOLOCAUST by Lauren Stewart and Chyanne Markham, Class of 2017, Westbrook
9-11 TRIBUTE by Taylor Hiscocks, Class of 2017, Westbrook