Mrs. H’s Unsung Hero Empower Hour
By Madeline Hanington, 2014 LMC Fellow & 2011 Milken Educator
This year, I had the honor of opening up a new middle school in Clarksburg, Maryland. When my principal, Dr. Barbara Woodward, told me that I can do anything for what she called Empower Hour, I couldn’t hold back my excitement. I knew that my Empower Hour would be Unsung Heroes.
During Empower Hour we meet for 30 minutes, twice a week. The students who signed up for my Empower Hour really had no idea what it was about. My group of students is a mix of 6th and 7th graders with a range of varying abilities and talents. On the first day we met, I showed the students the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes website. After about 10 minutes, they were hooked!
My students in my Unsung Hero Empower Hour researched Hallie Wells, Rosalind Franklin, Richard Wright, Bob Wyatt, Helen Denton and Eugene Lazowski. It was their first time doing this type of research. They gathered information and chose the format to present their information about their unsung heroes. The students created a documentary, a standing floor banner and several slideshows. They were so excited to share what they learned.
My students felt empowered by doing these projects. It allowed them to work with others to share ideas, provide feedback and present research in front of an audience. They were a TEAM! They supported and encouraged each other. The students presented their projects on a Wednesday night in the school’s media center. They invited their family and teachers.
After reflecting on the presentation night, the students said that they enjoyed sharing what they learned. They also are extremely motivated to continue researching in order to present to staff, family and friends. This was a trial run for them. They learned a great deal from their first projects. They know what they want to do differently and are excited to get to work on new projects.
My hope is that these projects help build my students’ self-confidence both academically and emotionally. I am extremely proud of them.
This is why I teach!