I have sat through a number of great and some mind numbing assemblies at the end of the year. (You know the ones-where everyone gets a certificate and the few that don’t, don’t care?) Don’t get me wrong, I think that students should be recognized for their successes. (Students loved being honored on my “wall of fame” bulletin board in my class…but I digress). I recently attended an awards assembly with a twist at the the Black River Middle School in Chester, NJ.
The Hall of Fame
This assembly had both staff and students proud and excited. It was a “Hall of Fame Induction” honoring outstanding alumni of their middle school. (Alas, I graduated from this same school system, but since there is no one alive that can attest to that, and there was no BRMS at the time, I am not eligibleJ). What a great way to have students learn about their own potential, through the eyes of someone who had sat in their very same chairs not so long ago.
Sharing Memories and Inspiration
The inductees represented a wide range of areas of success from politics, law and community volunteerism to business and athletics. Each honored guest gave a short speech with some anecdotes about their time at the school (some pointing out their teachers) and then pointing out that any one of the 7th graders in that audience could achieve their dreams if they just put their minds to it. Joseph S. Pizzo, language arts teacher, created the Hall with his students “to honor exemplary former students and community members who provide real-life success stories for our students.” That’s the key, not just real life, but connecting to their lives!
Project Based Learning
I cannot help but think of all of the potential learning opportunities that can come just from having students participate in all phases of the planning process- from collecting nominees, research, etc. to planning the actual event (writing, reading introductions, writing press releases, letters of invitation, etc). The selection process itself, from setting criteria, weighing candidates and making the selection is a great lesson in decision analysis. Sounds like a problem based learning activity waiting to happen- complete with critical thinking processes and multiple writing opportunities.
I want to thank Joe Pizzo for inviting me in and invite the rest of you to share any twists that you might add to your end of the year assemblies.