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ThinkShow primes MCS students for real world work


Students throughout Memphis dashed to complete projects by March 1 for this year’s ThinkShow, an annual learning showcase held at all Memphis City Schools.

by Dena L. Owens
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Students throughout Memphis dashed to complete projects by March 1 for this year’s ThinkShow, an annual learning showcase held at all Memphis City Schools.

 Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash congratulates 5th grade students at Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary School for their performance of “Treemonisha,” an opera presented on March 1 for ThinkShow, an MCS learning event. (Courtesy photos)

 For ThinkShow 2012, a team of students at Overton High School created music CD covers as their graded project. The activity challenged their technical and creative skills, and abilities for working as a team.

 Colonial Middle School students practiced opera singing as part of their ThinkShow project March 1. ThinkShow encourages students to explore unique careers and the challenges that arise.

From startup business models to cancer awareness activities and from opera performances to earthquake-proof building replicas, ThinkShow 2012 presented a multitude of projects. The work fortifies the case that MCS students are creative, analytical and eager to learn more about present-day careers.

“Our class liked the opera experience and dressing as if headed to the opera,” said Erwin Purnell, 8th grade orchestra student at Colonial Middle School. Purnell was dashing in a black tuxedo and played the cello during a performance.

With ThinkShow, students are challenged to find solutions to modern work issues. All projects require a math or writing element based on Common Core State Standards for learning.

“Research proves that students perform better on standardized tests when academic rigor and hands-on experience are combined,” said MCS Coordinator Jacqueline Stewart. “Today, standardized tests include open-ended questions. ThinkShow improves a student’s ability to explain the answers.”

ThinkShow 2012 involved more than 100,000 students at MCS elementary, middle and high schools. Projects were evaluated by teachers and by nearly 7,000 citizens representing various industries. Those who volunteered as “jurors” included corporate leaders, elected officials and news personalities.

City Councilman Myron Lowery and FOX 13 meteorologist Ed Echols were among the well-known local jurors. The event also attracted special guest juror Noelle Thorn, the Metropolitan Opera’s manager of education outreach. Thorn traveled to Memphis from New York City to evaluate orchestra students at Colonial Middle School.

Dr. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr., MCS Board of Education Commissioner, marveled about Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary School’s performance of the opera “Treemonisha” by its 5th grade class. Other jurors boasted about the “live museum” at White Station Elementary School, where students dressed and acted as famous individuals.

Unique projects included an Android cell phone app created by Booker T. Washington High School students and distinctive T-shirts crafted by Douglas High School students.

Eighth-grade classes at Kate Bond Middle School and Hickory Ridge Middle School used their activities to double as Capstone projects, which require a service-learning focus. Kate Bond focused on a Mid-South Food Bank activity, while Hickory Ridge raised cancer awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Both projects lifted the students’ compassion for individuals suffering hardships.

“Project-based learning enhances learning in general and prepares students for work,” said Elizabeth Hereen, EdD, MCS project-based learning coordinator. Hereen said project-based learning also reduces absenteeism and increases graduation rates.

Students receive two grades for ThinkShow projects, one by teachers and one by jurors.  Both grades are indicated on report cards to provide feedback to parents.

“Kids love the projects!” said Stewart. “They remember the models they assembled or the research they performed, and how it felt to talk to a juror.”


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