View Lessons by Category > Relevance > Humanities/Interdisciplinary
(Economics): In January, you had to pay for new car tags, in March your investment portfolio made large gains, and in July your air conditioning unit had to be replaced. It is just a part of life. These are all events that shape our lives and affect our short and long term economic planning. In my Economics class students learn how to budget, make decisions, invest in an ongoing economic simulation. The simulation took a week to set up but ran throughout the semester. New elements and technology for the simulation were added as the term progressed. Students must make decisions, balance risk versus reward, and prepare for the planned and unexpected. Much of the simulation is based on real situations that include bill pay, the stock market, insurance, retirement, cars, utilities, and housing. In addition, students earn “hours” through their content work that determines their pay, adding extra incentive to the quality of their regular assignments. This project practically runs itself once the setup is complete because of the competitive nature of the assignment. Periodically, “Daily Events” are drawn that add in unexpected costs or bonuses.
(Religion): My most interesting and engaging class at [my school] has been my religion classes. While they are more of an elective, being able to take classes outside of the core curriculum has expanded my worldview and understanding of the people and culture around me. At a rigorous school such as [my school], we have been trained to go full speed ahead and take the classes that would get us into the best colleges or help us find the highest paying careers. However, in classes like Living Religions or Eastern Worldviews, we are able to take a step back and reflect on ourselves and the world around us. It gives us the opportunity to think outside of the box and learn about different cultures, taking us outside of the bubble that our high-stress lives have created. One of the most enjoyable and educational experiences within the class was our skyscape/mindscape project. We were asked to sit outside for a period of time in complete silence and reflect upon ourselves and the world around us, letting our minds wander to unexpected places. While the class has been looked down upon by some adults in the administration or other teachers because it lacks the "rigor" that most classes demand in the form of tests and essays, I find myself spending more time on my religion homework than anything else. While most of the reading is not quizzed or graded, it has sparked an interest in me and makes me more motivated to work on it or do outside research. The laid-back classroom environment and the openness and casual conversation created by close student-teacher relationship has also pushed me outside of my comfort zone and has made me want to participate, rather than force me to in order to receive a grade. I also find myself talking with my classmates about the lessons every day after class.
(Religion): In order to begin my Faith Foundations (World Religions, grades 9-12) course, I put up three prompts on butcher paper around the room: "What is faith?" "Where does faith come from?" "Why is faith so important to some while not at all to others?" Students must respond to all three prompts and then respond to at least three of their classmates’ comments. This gets students to start thinking about the concept of faith in general and to be reflective about it in a way that might not happen with a class discussion. For as important as it is for students to learn about the particular tenets/concepts about world religions, they also need to have a general understanding of what faith is, how it can be different from religion, etc. The next day I have them take the Pew Research Religious Survey to see what their baseline knowledge about religions is. This is always eye-opening and fun for them, as they typically know a lot more than they might have expected. Next they read the introduction to Steven Prothero's book, Religious Literacy, which gets to why it is so important to know about other faith traditions. They conclude the unit with a Faith Identity paper, where they answer questions about their religious or philosophical backgrounds, where they came from, are there any "sticking points" with those faiths, first encounters with other faith traditions, etc. The girls always reveal so much in these essays, but since I consider them private writing, I ask them to select 3-5 pieces of information from their papers which they share on an online discussion board.
In the second semester of seventh grade at [my school], the students are assigned a final project instead of final exams. The teachers leave the topic of each student’s research project completely open, so they can experience learning in depth about a topic that truly interests them. Then each student is assigned an advisor based on their area of focus. For example, my faculty advisor was the science teacher as my topic of research was bioluminescence. They guided us through our initial research, and then using what we found into a project we could use to teach others about our topic through visual, hands on, or written means. At the end of the semester we had a fair for other middle school students, parents and teachers where they could travel from project to project and learn about each child’s topic. I found this project particularly engaging and motivating because the motivation wasn’t getting a higher grade than your classmates, as it was a pass/ fail project, but instead was about learning more about a subject that interests you and explaining your interests to others. Furthermore, it combined research with presentation, allowing students to present their ideas in new and creative ways to captivate their audience; such as I created a simulation where when the reactants in bioluminescence met a light would turn on. While I did partially enjoy the project because it was successful for me, I believe even if others weren’t as interested in my project I still would have found it a rewarding experience, as it presented the rare opportunity where I actually felt interested and motivated to complete my work.
(Anthropology): I would have to say that my favorite topic in Anthropology would have to be religion…. Honestly, this course has helped me in many real-life situations. All of the different cultures and views that I have learned about have made me more accepting of others. I will not look at someone odd because they are wearing clothes that cover every part of their body, I will not question a girl who has an arranged marriage, and I will not argue with a person who has different beliefs than I. Furthermore, what I have learned in Anthropology has enhanced my everyday experience and my personal characteristics…. Every time I step foot in my Anthropology class I always get enthusiastic about the next study of humans I am going to learn about. I believe that that is why I excel in the class: a class that is exciting and challenges one’s view of the world. I am so glad that I selected Anthropology as my elective senior year.