Pioneer students have a monster of a time
Welcoming families to parent-teacher conferences last week was a 10-foot tall monster standing just inside the doors of Pioneer Elementary School.
With three large heads and two 7-inch long fangs, the monster also has three arms and an astounding 11 legs. The monster has a belly button that shoots gas and ears that emit fire. Worms and bugs crawl at his feet, warts cover his body and there’s a rat in his mouth.
This monster also likes his accessories. He wears purple cat earrings on his big, bumpy ears and a necklace of spiders around his neck. Like most of us, he carries a cell phone. Unlike most of us, he has a pet bat.
And his name is Mr. Brayan “Hero” Bergman, named in part after Pioneer principal Nik Bergman.
The monster is born from the creativity and imaginations of 46 students in the first through third grades, said Camille Jones, who teaches the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program at Pioneer School. Jones introduced the students to the Global Monster Project, an online project that connects students from around the globe, and the Pioneer students took it from there.
Started more than five years ago, the Global Monster Project is coordinated by a professor at Radford University in Radford, Va. Classes with students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade can participate.
The project begins when each class chooses a monster part (a body part or an accessory) from a list on the project’s website. The classes then compose a description and email it back to the project coordinator to be shared with the other classes.
The Quincy monster makers chose to describe the right knee, instructing that it should be fat (5 inches tall and 12 inches wide) with a “turquoise diamond-shaped spider with neon legs with soft spikes.” The diamond was to have “rainbow sparkle polka-dotted armor that has scratches and bruises all over it.” And, the class wrote, attach a bag of gummy candy to the knee if you’d like.
When all descriptions were completed (there were 43 descriptions in all), each class built its own monster using everyone’s descriptions. And no two monsters look alike.
The student-driven project teaches children about communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking — the four Cs of 21st Century learning, said Jones, who did none of the building or writing of the description.
And it also teaches the students a lesson on a global scale.
Displayed with Mr. Bryan Bergman was a map showing where the other students lived; the 43 classes that participated represented seven countries (Brazil, England, Canada, Russia, Myanmar, Taiwan and the United States) and 16 states. The Quincy class was the only class that participated from Washington.
Jones said she was especially proud of her students because they worked well together in the six weeks it took them to finish the Pioneer monster. Jones broke the nearly four dozen students into groups, and each group showed unique creativity. (Who knew students could come up with so many ways to make warts, Jones said.)
The students also showed much dedication to the project, the teacher added.
“From the second we started, they were all for it,” she said.
— By Jill FitzSimmons, firstname.lastname@example.org