Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Idea School welcomed current parents on Wednesday January 12 at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades to their Winter Exhibition of Student Learning. To allow for adequate spacing of guests and projects, the Exhibition took place on two floors to showcase the 11th and 12th grade projects on one level and the ninth and 10th grade projects on another level. The students stood by their projects, excitedly explaining their learning to their parents while proud faculty looked on. Parents listened and beamed with pride at the confidence and joy their children exuded when speaking about their accomplishments and how much they learned and enjoyed learning this semester. The Idea School will hold another Exhibition of Learning in the spring that will highlight the students’ learning of the spring semester.

The ninth and 10th grade cornerstone projects on display exemplified interdisciplinary learning. Some highlights included a bimah inscribed with Mishnayot where students learned how to create sacred and peaceful communal spaces and a new happiness lounge with student-designed artwork based on their studies of what happiness and leading a meaningful life means according to Pirkei Avot, Greek philosophers, and what they learned in biology, particularly about homeostasis. The students also created a new recharging station composed of two artworks, one based on Jewish and historical ideas about caring for community, and the other on Hillel’s ideas about self-care and Aristotle’s ideas about achieving balance in one’s characteristics. Visioning and physically building these spaces based on what the students learned throughout the semester created a deep connection to what they learned and instilled a sense of meaning into their lives today. This is the crux of what project-based learning is about.

Among the many 11th and 12th grade cornerstone projects at Exhibition Night were a helmet rig for the traumatic brain injury prevention project, built by the STEM class. Another, fashion designs based on historical lenses, such as gender, religion and class, through which students studied fashion in their Design and Entrepreneurship class. Next, self-portraits and reinterpretations of Biblical stories, in the manner of Oscar Wilde in “The Picture of Dorian Gray’’ in their humanities class. And finally, in the beit midrash class, the students showcased The Israel Layers project. This project included an interactive map of Israel, a beautifully crafted orlah wheel, a coded terumah and maaser counter, hydroponic planting system and demographic analysis, all presented with source sheets that grounded their learning of Eretz Yisrael this semester.

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