In order to learn the concepts of Imperialism and Independence Movements in a project-based atmosphere, 9th grade students created an exhibition of related issues using shoes. Each student chose to research an issue or event in the Congo that was somehow a result of imperialism. The students synthesized their research into an essay about their issue or event, and later created an illustration that would represent their research findings. The illustrations were transferred onto shoes which would be auctioned off at the exhibition’s closing to benefit a charity in the Congo. The exhibition included the shoes hung from above for all to view, along with the students’ research pieces, allowing guests insight into the history of imperialism and independence movements.
My students asked me if they could create artwork on shoes, explaining to me that customizing shoes was trendy. I could see that it was truly something they were interested in, so I began to procure shoes for the project. The students were engaged as they knew their work would be publicly displayed at the exhibition, but also because they would be bid upon. I do believe that students enjoy a bit of competition! I was very proud of the project the students had so much choice and voice in, as well as the authentic byproduct of raising funds for charity.
I enjoyed being able to see everyone’s shoes being sold off at the auction. Hard work really does pay off! I also enjoyed talking to the crowd at the exhibition, especially my classmates and their parents.
I sharpened my writing abilities through the prose component of this project. I feel like it is one of the best papers I’ve ever written. I now know I can write something that can make people feel emotion.
To learn more about this project and others, visit