Cross curricular education teaches more than one subject area at a time to provide students with a multifaceted learning opportunity. Students can broaden their understanding and apply what they learn in more complex ways. The Mosaic Project gave ACHCCS students the chance to participate in a inter-disciplinary project the entire 2022-2023 school year. This project involved a variety of subjects including Art, English, Science, and Math and allowed student participation virtually and at in-person events.
Overall, the Mosaic Project strives to honor each student’s individuality as an essential piece within the mosaic, the school, the community, and the world. Students participated in a variety of cross-curricular activities throughout the school year and each academic quarter featured a specific theme.
A school-wide cross curricular project, such as the Mosaic Project, requires collaboration among teachers, staff members and students. However, AHCCS’s Curriculum Coordinator, Mrs. Jodi Byrne, spearheaded every virtual activity, mailing, and in-person event. Mrs. Byrne was tasked with creating a cross-curricular project that would span the entire school year and feature one major event each academic quarter. Two goals within Mrs. Byrne’s plan were to raise awareness of the school library among staff and students and to incorporate AHCCS’s new Mobile Maker Space, the “Maker Express”. Undoubtedly, Mrs. Byrne’s ideas excelled beyond anyone’s expectations.
Mrs. Byrne said, “The theme for our school’s Mosaic Project came from the idea that all of our students are a vital part of our school, their community, and the world.”
During Quarter One, students learned about Art History and how self-portraits can be used as a creative tool to communicate a person’s inner self. Students were encouraged to explore their passions, interests, and talents and then convey their identity through a self-portrait. In Quarter Two and Three’s Mosaic themes focused on “School” and “Community.” During these quarters all submitted self-portraits were incorporated in one mosaic art piece. Students were also invited to participate in a school-wide book club. Participants had a choice between four books that communicated the project’s theme of “Self.” Lastly, during Quarter Four students were encouraged to showcase their gifts and talents out in their communities. The Maker Express hit the road to go to four different Community Service events. Students, their families, and staff gathered to participate in community service, connect, and create during these various Community Service events.
Each quarterly project and event were crucial to this project, but the final community service events were by far the largest undertaking that truly celebrated the staff and students’ involvement with the Mosaic Project throughout the school year.
During the last two weeks of April 2023, all students, their families, and staff were invited to different community service centered events throughout the state. Each event was held at a different venue and featured specific community service activities. Also, the Maker Express made an appearance at each event to give students a firsthand opportunity to gain experience with new technologies and new equipment such as a 3D Printer, GloForge, and the Cricut machine. These in-person events Mosaic Project events were crucial to students and their families who have been searching for opportunities to connect with other students, families, and staff members in-person throughout the year.
Mrs. Byrne said, “The in-person events were incredibly valuable, and I learned a great deal about how our students are capable of so much. They are creative, talented, and true gifts to their communities.”
The first in-person Mosaic Community Day was held at Fairmount Waterworks in the city of Philadelphia. where students and their families were able to test the water in the Delaware River Watershed and provide feedback on the facility’s “POOL” exhibit. The second and fourth Community Days were at the Fluxspace locations in Norristown and Pittsburgh. At both events students and families were able to involve themselves in innovative activities and explore STEAM concepts. The third Community Day was at Johnstown Theater where attendees assisted in multiple renovation projects in the restoration of this historic theater.
An Achievement House student, Asia, at Fairmount Waterworks Community Day commented, “The event was really informational, and it was fun. My favorite part was looking at plankton under the microscope.”
Each Mosaic Community Day event featured unique service projects that directly impacted the community which made students feel helpful and important. Also, students were able to connect with their peers and their teachers while learning how they can use new AHCCS technology.
When asked why she thinks it is important for our school to have a cross curricular project Mrs. Byrne said “I think the Mosaic Project encourages authentic learning. I hope that our students saw the value of the things they learned in class and can now apply what they learn in other areas of their life.”
Achievement House Cyber Charter School students, families, and staff learned a great deal through the Mosaic Project. However, the most valuable lesson communicated was that not only are we essential pieces to ourselves but also to our school, our community, and our world.