High Quality Work - Claim 2:
If it is engaging, original, relevant, rigorous, anticipated, with sufficient time allotted, students will push themselves to a remarkably high level.
In 8th grade REALMS students spend their spring immersed in a semester long interdisciplinary learning expedition known as "Travel Study." Travel Study is centered around, but certainly not limited to, a ten-day trip to a destination that provides rich opportunities for academic connections, fieldwork, outdoor adventure and cultural exchange of some kind. One of the most significant academic elements of the Travel Study semester is an in-depth research project that is the academic capstone of every REALMS student's middle school experience. This research project is known as the IPP (Independent Project Presentation).
This IPP emphasizes using real work formats and standards from the professional world that connect academic standards with world issues, controversies and local people and places. Scaffolded from previous research, the 8th grade IPP is a rigorous, fully developed research project, like a mini dissertation. It begins with academic text based resources that move in depth from broad background to narrow focus as students hone their interests. Students have the opportunity to do original research including write a compelling fieldwork question, creating and using data collection documents, meeting with experts, and presenting their findings to an outside audience.
Each artifact group emphasizes one of three aspects of this project that contribute to its high level of quality: process, authenticity and power. The first group demonstrates the scope and sequence of the process, and how by breaking this large-scale research project into chunks, makes it manageable and engaging for all. The second reveals the impact of authenticity from an opportunity to do original research, to meeting with experts and using real work formats. And lastly, the third group exposes how a culture of anticipation, tradition, and high stakes presentations can bring power to the project and add to the challenge level that pushes students forward.
Research: All students are able to conduct a remarkable piece of original student research in the form of a capstone 8th grade independent project. Students understand that this project is a rite of passage to show readiness for high school.