Students worked individually on an integrated project exploring the essential question, How does the character of an individual or a society change following a time of conflict? Inspired by 20th century art and political movements, students explored aspects of their own experiences by writing poetry and developing an original manifesto in the form of a chapbook—a pocket-sized booklet popular from the 16th through the 19th century. In chemistry they used stoichiometric calculations to make the raw materials for various paints, which they then used to create paintings that became the covers for their manifestos.
Students learned to apply stoichiometric calculations, but the artistic component was equally important for kids to feel comfortable expressing themselves. Since mathematics and science are collective as well as individual endeavors, students worked on problems together, presenting multiple solutions and justifying individual solutions. They learned to make mistakes in front of their peers, yet also respectfully point out mistakes to others.
It was memorable to watch students inscribe their chapbooks to family and friends after the public reading. They sat silently for minutes before putting pen to paper, thinking of the perfect words to write, showing they had taken ownership of their work. The revision process was critical to the project. We encouraged students to settle for nothing less than their best work.
—Manuel Paul Lopez
The project was an eye-opening experience and helped me discover new things about myself. Before, I was not one who would generally write poems—now I do. I learned that poetry is a helpful way to express oneself. I had a difficult year, and the challenges and obstacles I have faced went beyond what I should wear and how I should look. Family issues made me re-evaluate my situation. This challenge is one I no longer have to face alone. Through writing poetry I learned to open myself up to others. Reading our peers’ poems, and how they expressed their truths, brought us closer as a team. I am proud of my work and of my peers.
—Alyee Camacho, 10th grade
To learn more about this project and others visit the HTH Digital Commons and Anne Duffy’s and Paul Lopez’s digital portfolios at