Ray Marsh Teacher, Sixth-Graders Share Interest-Based Learning Projects

Ray Marsh 6th Grade Passion Projects
Shawnee Mission School District

Sixth-graders at Ray Marsh have been exploring a variety of topics, from the History of Art, South Sudan, and Pet Nutrition. Over six weeks, they were tasked with identifying something they’d like to learn about, conducting extensive research and giving a presentation about what they learned.

This year, their teacher helped guide the assignment by setting the example. Heather Sommer, Resource Teacher, kicked off the unit, by sharing her personal passion project: A cookbook featuring her son’s recipes. Her advice to the students was to explore something new, take a positive risk, visualize what they want the project to be at the end.

She applied this advice toward successfully publishing a cookbook inspired by her son’s recipes. She also encouraged her students to accept help and constructive criticism and make the work their best. Many students across the district work on similar projects, allowing them greater opportunity to personalize their learning experience. 

“Interest-based learning allows independence and gives focus,” James Mitchell, sixth-grade teacher said.

Other student-selected topics included; Healthy foods, organic versus regular, the History of Chocolate and Filmmaking.

Students researched their projects and built bibliographies to show how they supported their research. Some of the projects included videos or food samples.

Zayne Anderson and Acton Motsick did research on parts of political process. They focused on the process of passing state laws and the cost to serve as a local, state, or national representative. They offered solutions to fix the process such as online voter registration and transparency related to political spending.

Their presentation began with an interactive, three-question survey and concluded with the same survey to see if they were able to convince any students to change their opinion.

“Our goal is to spread awareness, because there are problems with our current system and students need to be educated and involved,” Acton Motsick, sixth-grader said.