BullyProof Productions: Building Community Partnerships

(This is a part of the Deeper Learning Story Bank. Add your story!)

Story title: BullyProof Productions: Building Community Partnerships

Submitted by: Azul Terronez
High Tech Middle School

DL story: My Deeper Learning moment came last year when our school, High Tech Middle, decided that we would teach our advisory of mixed grade levels (6, 7 and 8 ) for half of the school day, for nine weeks instead of our regular content and grade level. We called it Projectopia; the purpose was to see what would happen if we taught students that we knew really well, in mixed grades, with no specific content assigned to the course? Would removing the grade level restrictions change or challenge our work and if so in what ways? Would freeing teachers from the constraints of the content area they were familiar with create more engaging work? We were inspired by a Sir Ken Robinson TED talk the year before, which was on of our impetus for challenging the way we think about school and learning.

At the end of Projectopia, we were to hold an exhibition of our projects and share with the world the experiment. I decided to team up with my teaching partner and his advisory with a combined group of 38 students, 2 teachers. With our team assembled we embarked on a project to make a film to support the work of the Trevor Project, an organization that provides support for LGBTQ youth who are at risk of suicide. The Trevor Project agreed be our community client and we were tasked with the task of creating a movie to launch their new medium, “Trevor Text”. We presented the challenge to the students and explained that we were going to help spread the message of anti-bullying by creating a movie staring puppets that they created by hand sewed, they were excited and engaged.

There were many moments that were amazing, but I was struck when the entire production team was on a school bus, filming a scene and watching the director of the film, a 6th grader, take charge and direct all of the actors. It was awesome to see the students and adults give him attention and respect, despite his age or stature. My deeper learning moment taught me that no matter how we thought about what school was or is, it can always be challenged and redefined.

Read the attached article to learn more about the project and watch the film here.

Collaborating, Believing in yourself (academic mindsets), Doing relevant, engaging work, Making things, Presenting work to a real audience

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