Summer school usually gives students a feeling of angst. But Pittsfield Middle High School, in its commitment to anytime, anywhere learning, has transformed the idea of summer learning by offering free high-quality, hands-on learning opportunities to all students, from a stage production to a weeklong trip to a woodland preserve.
Students at the Center Hub recently highlighted the school’s summer learning academies as a great example of learning beyond the classroom, showing students and teachers alike that learning can take place anywhere. Pittsfield, which has transitioned to a student-centered learning environment, has partnered with the community over the last several years to offer engaging summer programs to that enrich the learning process and teach students skills that last well beyond their school years:
Creating Your Summer Adventure in Pittsfield: Each day, students explored a different recreational activity in the Pittsfield area that included hiking, biking, and fishing. They kept daily journals, both written and video, to put together a presentation of all the available activities. Additionally, students created an online Recreational Resource Guide for the Greater Pittsfield Community as part of their participation in the program.
Behind the Scenes: The students worked with a given script to produce a stage production that allowed them to gain experience with directing, set design, costume design, effective use of lighting and sound, stage management, advertising, and acting. Through field trips to local thrift stores, fabric stores, and craft stores, students had the chance to learn how to repurpose clothing into amazing costumes and set pieces—their hard work transpired into a live performance called 50 Minutes of Fame that many community members attended.
Environmental Leadership/Stewardship: Students spent a week on the Graylag woodland preserve in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. Graylag provided a unique and highly functional outdoor classroom, where students were able to facilitate authentic scientific surveys. Workshops included a mapping initiative, where students learned about the various applications of a map, compass, and tracking data as a field study. They learned how each tool was used, had experience working with the devices, and were given various scenarios to follow with their application.
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