Reed Middle School English teacher Andrew Davis is on a mission to make sure students know that proper grammar and writing skills have a place in the real world, especially Duncanville, Texas. His Pre-AP class recently conducted a problem-based learning lesson involving the Main Street Reconstruction Project. It taught students how to properly compose a letter and business proposal, as well as proper interviewing skills. “We had gone over all the grammar rules of writing, so I wanted to take those skills that we had practiced in the classroom to the next level and have students use them in a real, applicable manner,” explained Davis.
Getting the idea for the lesson after reading a newspaper article about the Reconstruction project, Davis also affirms that Reed Middle School is very focused on increasing campus community involvement. This project allowed students to meet several city business owners face-to-face. “I wanted students to see that there are two sides of the coin,” said Davis, “the City’s perspective of the construction and the businesses who are being directly affected.”
Starting with a webquest of Duncanville’s new Main Street website, students followed up their research with a visit from the City’s Assistant Engineer Gina Garcia, who gave an update on the project’s progress. They then generated questions for business owners, such as “What was your reaction to news of the construction?”, “How has construction affected your business?”, and “Do you think the Reconstruction Project was necessary?” Taking a field trip to Main Street, students personally interviewed workers at McSalon, Beyond Physical Fitness, Farmer’s Insurance, Efurd Realty, Ben Franklin Apothecary, Duncanville TV, Edward Jones, Breckenridge Fashions and Thrift, and Roma’s Italian Restaurant.
Back in the classroom, groups worked to compile their notes into a final presentation, which included a letter to a newspaper editor, a verbal and written address to Duncanville’s City Council, and a video. “They really enjoy working in groups and joining forces to get their work done,” commented Davis. “To get them out in the real world and in real businesses was very interactive, and sparked their attention really quick.”