When the principal of Centreville (Maryland) Elementary School suggested an open house in spring to complement one held in the fall, it was decided to combine the event with an already scheduled science fair to create one huge "showcase" of student work. The serendipitous union has become a mainstay for the school and its staff. Teachers have found many unique ways to show off their students' achievements.
"Every grade level team generated a list of ways to showcase student work, and each unified arts teacher also designed a means to display the students' talents and created an activity for students and parents to participate in that evening," explained Karey Anne Coppage, a second grade teacher.
|Student artwork is on display during the spring version of open house. (Photo courtesy of Karey Anne Coppage)|
For example, music classes made instruments from household materials, which were displayed and available for children to use during the event; the physical education classroom was set up as an obstacle course; and student artwork was displayed throughout the halls.
"The homemade musical instruments creating a new band in the music room was memorable -- even toddler siblings joined in! Above all, students proudly described and displayed their showcase work," said Coppage.
The most remarkable thing about the entire evening for Coppage was the overwhelming number of students, parents, and relatives in attendance. Hundreds of visitors have come to the showcase over the few years it has been held. The students and teachers enthusiastically prepare for the event and the chance to share projects from the classroom.
"Some teachers are so excited that they bring their own families to share in the evening's fun," Coppage reports. "Several parents have expressed positive feedback to the principal throughout the evening. The parents, and some grandparents, have been impressed by the quality of the work presented."
|Handmade instruments make up one of the most melodic and colorful exhibits. (Photo courtesy of Karey Anne Coppage)|
An unanticipated benefit of the combined event has been an increase in the number of science fair projects submitted by the children. Student projects for viewing vary greatly and have included plays, poems, skits, PowerPoint presentations, published books, and research reports. Classes complete group science projects to model the process before the students attempt independent projects at home, and these group endeavors are also put on display during the evening so that every child's work is represented. At one showcase, a local guest author read books, signed them, and offered them for sale.
The science fair and student showcase at Centreville Elementary is expected to continue for many years. Coppage has learned to provide an opportunity for parent evaluation at the end of the evening so that improvements can be made. She also tries to schedule time for teachers to visit other classrooms and view the students' work. The local paper covers this event, and many photos record it each spring.