“Right,” said Mr Poynt, briskly calling the class to attention, “now that we have those government tests out of the way I thought it would be good to dial down the stress levels with some authentic project work.”
This was good news to Jimmy. He hated how the government had made him spend the last five weeks endlessly practising tests. How many more times did he need to find out that he couldn’t do the last ten questions on the paper? Project work sounded good.
“Your task,” explained the teacher, “is to design a Ferris wheel for the town and market it to tourists. This is an opportunity to exercise your creativity muscles. Does everyone know what a Ferris Wheel is?” Mr Poynt pressed the space bar on his laptop and a picture of The London Eye appeared on the whiteboard.
“It has to be 20 metres high. You need to work out how much steel to use, how fast it will turn and so on. There’s a sheet with some questions like that on it which you will need to answer along with some guidance on how to do this,” he explained, “You will need to produce a poster on A3 paper and give a presentation to the class.”
Mr Poynt asked Vinay to distribute the sheets around the class.
“I’m not going to tell you exactly how to do it. Think of me as a resource.”
Jimmy chose to work with his usual group: Vinay, Oscar and Byron. Earlier in the year, Mr Poynt had tried to enforce mixed groups of girls and boys but it didn’t last very long.
Anyway, the usual group was highly efficient. Jimmy would do the artwork – he was talented at drawing cartoons. He immediately started sketching the Ferris wheel. Vinay would do the research and Byron would do the writing and present the poster. Oscar was the maths genius so he could work out the numbers that Mr Poynt wanted.
“Marvellous!” Exclaimed Mr Poynt as he surveyed the purposeful activity that now filled the room. The students are so engaged! And with doing maths! If only the government could see that maths wasn’t just about the rote memorisation of mechanical procedures to reproduce on standardised tests.
Then he sat at his desk, took a long slurp of coffee and opened up his emails.