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Personal Passion Project and Theme Week

Our P3 (Personal Passion Project) program provides an opportunity for middle school students to engage in problem-solving and design thinking in projects envisioned and led by them! Throughout the year, middle schoolers have time in their weekly schedule for P3 work, but this week is when all that work comes together for five full days of experiential learning. This week is Middle School Experience Week- one entire week dedicated to P3 – passion projects, collaboration, problem solving, and design thinking.

At the beginning of the school year, each middle schooler chooses a problem they would like to solve, and phrases that problem as a question beginning with the words, “How might we…?” Some of the questions this year include: 

  • How might we get equal pay in soccer?
  • How might we stop littering at Roycemore?
  • How might we give back to food pantries?
  • How might we build awareness for global warming?

As you can see, students choose a variety of topics from issues they see right here at school to issues that affect the whole world. What unites them all is the design thinking process we use. Students are taught to understand the issue and who it affects, brainstorm solutions, and prototype their ideas. The Personal Passion Project is one of Roycemore’s signature EAGLE programs (Empowering All Griffins to Learn Experientially). You can learn more about our P3 program by checking out these slides from a recent parent information session.

One of the unique aspects of Experience Week is that middle schoolers are encouraged to visit businesses or other sites relevant to their projects during the week to further real-life, hands-on learning opportunities. Some of the sites students will visit this week include the American Writers Museum, the Museum of Surgical Science, the DuSable Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, Evanston Community Fridges, and local food pantries. 

Since middle school students are paired with a mentor for their P3 work, many students will spend time this week communicating and collaborating with experts in the field. Students have both in-person and online meetings lined up this week with animators, musicians, professors, writers, and podcasters, among others! We are fortunate to have such a fantastic network of family members, friends, and colleagues who are willing to work with our middle school students! (If you are one of our P3 mentors, we appreciate you!!)

To kick off Experience Week, middle schoolers will be reminded of the overall goals of our P3 program. These include:

  1. Understanding design thinking as a problem-solving process.
  2. Pursuing a student-chosen passion throughout the entire school year.
  3. Improving communication skills by working with a mentor.
  4. Organizing and completing a large project from start to finish.

Through P3, students learn empathy, problem solving from the perspective of others, curiosity to imagine multiple solutions, courage not to get it right the first time, collaboration with classmates and others, and the ability to clearly communicate solutions. If those terms sound familiar, you may be remembering that many of them can be found in our Portrait of a Graduate, which has been highlighted in this newsletter this year. Our P3 program and Experience Week are fantastic ways for our students to put into practice the Portrait of a Graduate skills they learn all year long.

At the same time middle schoolers are going in-depth with their passion projects, lower school students will be exploring and developing solutions for a problem they identify here at school. This is known as Lower School Theme Week: Problem Solved! Theme Week builds on the experiential learning and Portrait of a Graduate skills lower schoolers develop throughout the year, and allows them to try out a program similar to P3 on a smaller scale. 

To be clear, all Roycemore students spend time problem-solving and participating in experiential learning through many aspects of their day. Portrait of a Graduate skills come into play in every class in some form. But our EAGLE programs (theme week, P3, and JST) are where so many of those skills come together. Students have more voice, agency, and opportunities for collaboration through these signature programs. 

The week culminates in a P3 Expo, where students will share their P3 work so far. Students will explain the problem they want to solve, their proposed solution, and prototypes of their ideas. Our P3 Expo will be combined with our Lower School Problem Solved! Showcase this year. All Roycemore families are welcome to attend the LS Showcase/MS P3 Expo at Roycemore on Friday afternoon, 2:20 – 3:30 pm throughout the first floor of the building. We hope to see you there!

 

In partnership for the education of your student,

Adrienne Floro, Assistant Head of School for Academics and Middle School Divison Head

Beth Shutters, Director of Curriculum and Innovation