Students discuss Utopian concept in North Rowan Middle class

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
Holly Beaver’s idea of the perfect classroom includes bright, neon walls with inspirational quotes, beanbag chairs instead of desks and students treating each other like family.
“I think it’s the perfect classroom because it’s fun, and when it’s fun you want to come to school,” the eighth-grader said. “And when you want to come to school you do better.”
Angie Fleming asked her eighth-grade academically and intellectually gifted language arts students at North Rowan Middle to imagine their version of a perfect classroom for the course’s unit on utopia.
“Utopia is a concept we talk about the entire first semester,” Fleming said. “I try to apply it to their lives with the perfect classroom so that they can relate to it.”
The students are reading “Tuck Everlasting,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Lord of the Flies,” “Animal Farm” and “The Giver” this semester to go along with the Utopia theme.
Fleming said she likes to get her students thinking about whether a utopian society could actually exist.
“At first, I thought the topic was really boring, but when you look at it more in-depth it’s really interesting,” student Jailene Aguilar said. “Utopia can be different from person to person.”
Aguilar’s perfect classroom would be relaxing and inviting and give students an opportunity to vote on what they want to learn next.
Victoria Scheve would have colorful walls and a spinning chalkboard mounted in the middle of the room.
“I would have less technology and just keep it classic,” she said.
Tiffany Vang would have a giant fish tank in her classroom, magic pens that would allow students to take notes in the air and include headphones so students could only hear their instruments when playing.
Lucas Beam would have a time machine to transport students to historic events such as the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War and 9/11.
“I thought it was a good idea because we could go back and see how things actually happened.”
Fleming said she looks forward to teaching the Utopia unit to her students and getting their creative juices flowing with the project.
“I always think it’s very interesting to give them the basic guidelines and watch them step outside the box,” she said. “Students are used to getting assignment and answering questions, but this project requires problem solving and coming up with ideas.
“It’s a good way to prepare them for college and real life.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.