Areas of Learning
Self-Awareness and Inner Peace
A safe place to learn develops from the inside out and from the outside in. Students experiencing toxic stress benefit from exercises and thoughtful discussions that consider both internal and external sources of unease, worries, and pressures. Social-emotional exercises include mindful meditation, improvisation, bio-feedback, journaling, critical social analysis, and a variety of self-reflection and identity exercises.
"This class is fun. I look forward to coming to this class every A-Day. If I’m having a bad morning I can come to this class and it will make my day. This class has showed me how to relax and control myself more, even though sometimes I don’t show it. I think I have grown up because at the beginning of the year I used to get phone calls home every day. Now I have realized that I just need to chill out and relax."
– Anthony H., 7th grade
Throughout class meetings, small-group activities, and one-on-one conversations, we emphasize the quality of communication. How and why we say what we say (and don’t say) leads to high-level, metacognitive learning about sociolinguistics. Discussion topics include code switching, style shifting, dialect diversity, and the ways we communicate through gesture, expression, tone, and body position.
"In Project Lab I’ve learned how to do stuff I didn’t think I would ever do, like chess. Also, I learned how to work with people I don’t talk to or like. From 7th to 8th grade this class made me grow up so much and Project Lab made this class become a big family. I’m happy to say I will miss this class so much."
– Gerahlynn S., 8th grade
Culturally Relevant Reading & Writing
Students create content for an award-winning middle and high-school newspaper–The Viking Times. For four years straight, Project Lab middle schoolers co-created a nationally recognized literary magazine with students at a nearby independent school. Ten Project Lab students will have their writing published in a forthcoming collection, The St. Louis Anthology. Readings that support these projects include poetry, journalism, memoir, drama, fiction, and other genres.
"Project Lab is a class where you can express yourself through writing. I can say that I learned how to write more. I have gotten a chance to hear other people’s thoughts and feelings. Over the course I have grown more comfortable with others and myself."
– Juwelz G., 7th grade
Normandy Crosscurrents empowers students to understand and address the harmful effects of segregation in metropolitan St. Louis. Through facilitated dialogues, exercises, and cooperative games, Project Lab students get together with students and adults who live, work, and attend school outside of their community. Guest presenters are regularly scheduled into our curriculum, and have included political leaders and community organizers, as well as visitors with expertise in mountain climbing, dance, circus arts, tree care, and performance art, for example.
"What I learned in Project Lab is how to improve my life and become a better me. I do think I have grown up this year. At first my anger used to be intense but now since I’ve been working in Project Lab my anger hasn’t been as bad. I start writing out my problems and after that I forget about the situation. I just forget about it."
– Julissa V., 7th grade
Purposeful & Creative Inquiry
Interdisciplinary, hands-on, and anchored in academic standards, our projects are grounded in student experiences and strengths. Whether quilting, playing chess, studying eggs, considering clothing in social context, acting out plays in reader’s theater, or memorizing lines of poetry, Project Lab honors the energy, wisdom, and critical thinking of students.
"In Project Lab we express our feelings and write poetry. I think I have learned a lot about poetry and writing. I also learned a lot about others’ feelings. I think I have grown this year because I am a different person from when I started the year off. I think about things more. I care more. I think before I take action and my attitude changed for the better. I have put so much effort into my work and trying very hard to really understand WHO I AM. I love writing and I didn’t know I loved writing until I got to Dr. Schaenen’s class."
–Kayounee M., 7th grade