I had the absolute pleasure of participating in our Upper School students’ pitches for their (i)Project yesterday. An important component of Mount Vernon’s Upper School program, (i)Project centers on the design principle Curiosity and Passion Drive Learning. Goals for (i)Project include:
- Developing Mount Vernon Mindsets (Creative Thinker, Communicator, Collaborator, Solution Seeker, Innovator, and Ethical Decision Maker) through authentic learning experiences;
- Cultivating curiosity, following passions and interests, and failing up in learning;
- Strengthening connections (or lessening the disconnect!) between “school” and “real life;” and
- Empowering students to pursue inquiry, innovation, and impact while having fun.
Students are encouraged to seek feedback from internal and external mentors throughout their (i)Project, and a strong opportunity to do so occurred yesterday. Teachers, leaders, and external experts (many parents who participate in our Experts-in-Residence program) sat together and listened to several students pitch their ideas. This pitch was an iteration of a previous one and called on students to incorporate feedback they had received from teachers.
The breadth, depth, and variety of (i)Project pitches were noteworthy. I listened, questioned, and offered feedback to students focusing on:
- enhancing marketing efforts of an online Etsy art shop;
- learning more about filming and editing so that a student-led course could be developed;
- honing investment skills in the Chinese stock market in order to give back to families living in poverty;
- learning (or re-learning) Portugese in order to speak fluently and connect more deeply with a former nanny, among others;
- using filming and editing to enhance golf coaching for high schoolers; and
- collaborating on a mixed media art piece and documenting the journey.
Each and every one of these projects, and the many others that students are pursuing, connects not only to content-area skills and learning outcomes, but also to skills that some label as 21st century and others label as lifeworthy. In a nutshell, passion was abundant, presentation/communication skills were growing, and feedback was fully flowing. I look forward to seeing where these amazing students will go in their next steps.