Eighth-graders are pushed beyond limits of everyday curriculum
The difference between the eighth-grade seminar and most other classes at Ozaukee Middle School is that the students, rather than the teacher, determine what subjects will be studied.
Teacher Kevin Luedtke leads the class, but he is quick to note that the involvement of some 40 adult mentors — including retired teachers — made this year’s program a real learning experience.
Luedtke has been guiding the seminar classes for nine years.
All 60 eighth-grade students had to select a series of six research topics to work on during the school year and apply those levels of thinking. The results of their labors drew the spotlight during the end of the year Seminar Showcase.
“Students begin by being introduced to six different levels of thinking — knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and creation,” Luedtke explained.
Students then brainstorm lists of possible ideas they would like to study in-depth, and then submit “letters of intent” outlining how they intend to approach their work.
Those letters must be presented to three volunteer staff members for review and input before they can proceed.
Letters are then forwarded to potential mentors, as well as scholarship applications to receive funding for materials from the Parent Teacher Resource group.
The range of topics tackled by students shows how inspiring the process can be.
Megan Krause and Kylah Wheaton played a key role in spearheading a push to start a girls softball program at Ozaukee High School. The Northern Ozaukee School Board voted to start a team next year.
Hank Bell led a field trip to the State Capitol in Madison while explaining the process that leads to the adoption of bills by the Legislature.
Health care initiatives were started by a pair of students. Isabelle Clark led a scoliosis screening, while Ella Jors and Grace Burmesch promoted ALS awareness and Ariana Bentley shared research on autism.
Greta Klas and Mallory Miller started a three-on-three basketball tournament.
Looking at sports from an even grander scale, Brent Hoffmann, Logan Bell and Jotham Higginbotham went through the steps of planning for a Major League Baseball team. That process included forming an expansion team lineup, and finding a location and cost for a theoretical new stadium.
Most projects involved topics of personal interest, including hunting, fishing, music, sailing, dreams, cameras, farming and video games.
“Students have the opportunity to direct their own learning as they select a topic of their choice, work to gain a better understanding of the topic and hopefully find a purpose in their assignment beyond the final grade,” Luedtke said.