Carvey Digital, How to Survive, What’s the Buzz, Think Like a Fish, History of Comics, Watercolor, Mindfulness and Culinary Travel across the Continents are just a handful of the classes offered to seventh- and eighth-graders through the Awesomeness Initiative. This non-graded elective course program, now back for its second semester, provides dynamic exposure to modern skills of the 21st century workplace, all taught by teachers who are passionate about their topics.
Traditional schools focus on developing the fundamentals like math, language and general sciences. No surprise that FWCD ensures its students excel in all these foundation subjects, but the School is also committed to shaping well-rounded students. The Awesomeness Initiative (AI) is about complementing our core curriculum and what education expert Pat Basset calls the Six C’s of 21st-century learning: creativity, character, critical thinking, communication, cosmopolitanism/cross-cultural competency and collaboration. “These AI courses are designed to be Six C’s saturated,” said John Stephens, Head of Middle School, “and they reflect the cool things that our teachers are passionate about,” he said.
The courses, which met eight times throughout the fall semester, do not take any extra time out of a teacher’s or student’s day because they take place during club period and advisory time. “The expectation is that the teachers’ excitement for their topics will extend to the students and allow them opportunities to learn something new or build upon their existing skills in a classroom setting that is free of grades and tests,” Stephens noted. “The ultimate goal is to further enhance the Six C’s within each of our students in a fun way.”
The AI goal moving forward is to have courses offered each semester. Eighth-graders were given the course listing and descriptions and asked to indicate their first and second choices. Most of these students gained entry into their first choice classes. Seventh-graders then made their choices based on the openings left.
While fifth- and sixth-graders are not part of the Awesome Initiative proper, they too will build upon their learning and skill set through special typing, study skills, digital citizenship and health sessions.
The 19 fall semester courses were:
Calligraphy and Crochet
How to Survive … Be a Survivor!
Design Build/Makerspace/Build Awesome Stuff
What’s the Buzz?
World Champion of the World!
Think like a Fish
Multimedia Sports Journalism
Games from around the World
History of Comics
A Day at the Improv: Adventures in Ad-Lib
Mindfulness: Feel Better, Reduce Stress and Enjoy Your Life a Little More
Culinary Travel across the Continents
One course that was especially intriguing, What’s the Buzz?, was taught by bee enthusiasts Stephens and Tom Mitchell, Chief Financial and Operations Officer. Things were "abuzz" for these students as they learned how to build and manage a hive and how to feed the bees and generate new colonies. They also studied the threats to hives as well as what hives need to thrive. View the video here.
“Courses like these give students a chance to really hone in on what it is they enjoy pursuing and to do that under the tutelage of a teacher who is passionate,” Stephens said. “Learning doesn’t get much better than that.”