TEST

Round the World

MIDDLE SCHOOL May 2, 2012

Each year, Class VI students are given a unique assignment: plan a 30- to 40-day trip around the world. The assignment requires adherence to a budget, development of a travel itinerary and research on countries on the itinerary.

The two-month Round the World (RTW) project is interdisciplinary; in English, math and geography classes, students use creative journaling, mapping, accounting, statistical analysis and long-term planning to complete the project. Students also select a community service opportunity related to the trip, and they research a major religion that predominates in another country. In science class, students research an endangered species found in one of the regions visited and in modern language classes they write about a recent current event in a country that speaks the language they are learning (and they write about it in that language). Teachers encourage students to have fun with the process: The only limits are their imaginations and the hypothetical budget.

The assignment’s culminating event, RTW Night, is an open house during which “travelers” share their itineraries, journal entries, cultural artifacts and culinary wares, as well as tales of embarrassing gaffes and trip highlights. Thanks to Photoshop, scrapbooks are replete with images of students casually slinging their arms around companions as varied as the Queen of England to the wildest of jungle beasts.

History and social science teacher Fred Hollister has assigned the Round the World project for more than a dozen years and says that the “real world value” and life skills that students develop through the process are astounding, incredibly relevant and worthwhile. He adds, “We hope this plants in the kids a desire to travel to different parts of the world and develop an appreciation and respect for difference firsthand; it is my belief that developing a greater world view helps people become more involved, better informed citizens of their own country as well as developing an awareness and concern about pressing issues beyond their own borders.”

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