Selectives 3.0: Engaging in Fearless Curiosity

From testing the limits of tension and compression in a bridge-building class, to analyzing the philosophical responsibilities of having super powers, amazing work is happening in our Middle School Selectives classes.

Mr. Geoff Sahs, our Selectives coordinator, writes, “This year the program includes elements of design, performance, research, discussion, construction, and production in 19 different classes. Despite the variety of offerings, the teachers and students all share one goal: creating an environment where students can engage in fearless curiosity. In the Selective classroom, students embark on a path of inquiry where success is not necessarily measured by the arrival at a particular endpoint or answer, but is instead measured by the development and application of skills. Without a grade attached, students develop age-appropriate mastery in an area they may have never thought they had the ability.”     

In December, we will have our first Selectives showcase: “An Invitation Into the Selectives Classroom.” Students will have an opportunity to engage their classmates and the larger TVS community as they share the skills they’ve learned this semester. More details to follow.  In the meantime, take a peek at this semester’s offerings!

WE BUILD IT, WE SMASH IT: BRIDGE BUILDING, Mrs. Pat Cooper

Bridges are part of our everyday lives. When you came to school today, did you count how many bridges you crossed to get here?  In the United States alone, there are more than 500,000 bridges. In our selective, we will learn about the three basic types of bridges. We will learn about tension and compression, the two natural forces that are common to all bridges. We will build bridges made out of straws, popsicle sticks, cardboard, paper towel tubes, and even K’NEX building parts. We will show off some of our bridges at the end of this semester. Would you like to try your hand at building a bridge?

HOODS UP: FROM DAIMLER TO DAYTONA, Mr. Sahs and Mr. Snyder

Who knew that when Gottlieb Daimler named his first car after Karl Benz’s daughter, Mercedes, that his invention would come to be one of the most significant developments in the world. The internal combustion engine has now become a fixture of daily life — it powers our cars, provides electricity, and allows humans to fly. In this class we will build models of engines, explore how they work, and analyze the problems designers face in developing horsepower, efficiency, and fuel economy. Then, as always…we will get our hands dirty and build a real engine. You don’t need to be a mechanic, or want to become one, but when you walk out of class, you will be able to look at any vehicle in the lot and say, “I know how that works!”

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 2015, Mr. Manish Bhatt

In the Constitutional Convention of 2015 selective, students will thoughtfully examine the Constitutions of the United States, individual states within the Union, and foreign nations. Students will also read and analyze other foundational documents such as the Magna Carta.

Through each in-class reading, students will discuss particular themes, such as:

  1. The meaning of liberty
  2. Right vs. Privilege
  3. What are Fundamental Rights
  4. Freedom of action vs. freedom from action (governmental intervention)

Our study will culminate in a simulation of a modern Constitutional Convention wherein the students will debate the above themes and develop a working constitution that meets their individual and collective vision and hope for the future.

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM, Mrs. Melissa Exley and Ms. Laurie Wisdom

You will have the opportunity to plan and produce great stories, create effective visuals using different forms of technology, learn how journalists impact audiences in today’s society, and more!  You will also gain opportunities to showcase your creativity in the Trojan Channel, the TVS Middle School student publication, as well as potential journalism competitions.  Join Investigative Journalism to explore the world of news media! 

ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESSES, Mrs. Marcy Roten and Mr. Bill Buck

This selective will explore processes used in history to make photographs.  As we journey through the history of photography, students will be able to work in the darkroom to learn how some of the first photographers made images.  Students who take this class will need to come with an open mind and creativity!

HOW TO WRITE A TED TALK, Ms. Tina Harper and Dr. Jeff Johnson

Middle school students have incredible ideas – ideas worth spreading. In this course, students will practice how to speak and communicate so that others will listen. Students will also have the opportunity to hear the ideas of other teens at the annual TEDx Conference Fort Worth along with a few of our TVS Upper School students. Each course meeting will focus on a fun game that will help students develop confidence in public speaking along with tools to write a speech on a topic they are passionate about sharing with the world.

Throughout the course, Dr. Jeff Johnson, TEDx Youth Fort Worth Chairman will offer workshops to students interested in finalizing their TED Talk for the annual TEDx Youth Fort Worth Conference in November.

DOCUSELECTIVE: THE ART OF VIDEO ARCHIVING, Ms. MacNabb

Do you love taking pictures or shooting video on your phone or iPad? Do you love to edit and add special effects to those pictures and videos? Ever wonder what car part the students in Mr. Sahs and Mr. Snyder’s selective are working on? What does World Peace look like with Dr. Roemer? What topics are students designing Ted talks about with Mrs. Harper? What creative origami shape are students designing with Ms. Heller?

If you love film making AND are curious about what happens in the other selective classes in the middle school, Docuselective, is the selective for you.  Students will explore video creation and special effects Apps such as Magisto, CuteCUT, iMovie, Movie FX, and other new releases to create documentary films about other middle school Selectives.  Let’s get digitally creative!

ORIGAMI: CHANGING THE WORLD ONE FOLD AT A TIME, Mrs. Kathy Heller

Come explore modular origami: the process of folding multiple numbers of paper units and assembling them into larger more complex origami figures.  We will look at how origami has been transformed in the last 30 years from simple paper ‘toys’ into being used in solar and medical research. We will build many complex figures — including cubes, stars, mandalas, boxes, and advanced geometric figures — as well as several transforming figures.  There will also be a service aspect to the class.  The students will create holiday decorations for a senior center, as well as a math puzzle for TVS second or third graders. The course will conclude by examining the latest trend in origami: tessellations.

FROM BROADWAY TO RUNWAY – COSTUME & FASHION DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION, Ms. Beth Thomason

Join Beth Thomason, our head Costumer for all of the Middle School shows, as she teaches you the fundamentals of sewing and design. Help create costumes for The Lion King and the Middle School Drama Club production of The Aristocats as well as some of your own projects. No prior skills needed — she will teach you everything you need to know to become your own costume or fashion designer!

STILL MOTION ANIMATION: CREATE YOUR OWN ANIMATED MOVIE, Ms. Carry Hansen

Do you want to make your own animated movie but are not sure how?  The Nightmare Before Christmas, Chicken Run, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are just a few of the most popular animated films that used the old-school stop motion technique to create feature films.  Since 1896, animators have been using stop motion and now you can, too—thanks to an iPad App that makes creating your own Short Animation Film a little easier!  After gaining inspiration from watching a few of the classics, students will mold their own characters, design their set, write their script and bring their frame-by-frame photos to life for a film festival complete with popcorn!

NEWS FLASH, Mr. Jeremiah Russell

The focus of this Selective will be current events happening in our country and around the world.  Students will read news articles, watch news clips, and experience the most recent stories.  The news stories will be explored through multiple outlets, and students may even “broadcast” these stories as if they were reporters, journalists, or investigators.  Students will also create their own spin on news stories to demonstrate how emotion and personal conviction can influence what is projected through the news media.  The goals are to become well-informed about the events occurring in our world and to view reports of these events through a discriminating lens.

SHERLOCK HOLMES:  A DETECTIVE FOR THE AGES, Mr. Lawrence Gladwin

Ever since he first appeared in 1887 in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes has been a popular fictional character.  Novelists, playwrights, television and movie producers, and many other creative individuals have found in the Holmes character a source of inspiration and a vehicle for ideas far beyond the times and issues of Victorian England.

In this selective we shall read some of Doyle’s original Holmes stories and, once we have come to know Holmes as Doyle portrayed him, we shall view representative interpretations of his character as presented in television productions and films.  Holmes as a Nazi-hunting spy, Holmes as a manic depressive, Holmes as an aged and demented country-dweller – these are but a few examples of how the character has morphed over the years.

Finally, toward the end of the selective we shall try to envision a Holmes for the future.  Will Holmes employ his deductive reasoning in the defense of earth against alien invaders?  Will his scientific skills enable him to find a cure for cancer?  Will his cold and rational personality be best seen as a robot?  Will he be stumped by a case in which the victim did it?  In a one-act play, in a video, perhaps even in a short story of our own creating we shall present our futuristic idea of Holmes to TVS.

EVERYTHING JAPAN, Dr. Michael Roemer

“Everything Japan!” is a new selective about . . . well . . . Japan! It’s for students who are interested in Japanese pop culture, its media, its history, its technology, or just about anything else Japan-related. Dr. Roemer has lived in Japan for three years and has visited seven additional times. It’s his “second home,” and he’d love to share his passions for Japan with you.

BEYOND THE SELFIE, Dr. Edwin Wood

With the front-facing camera of today’s smartphones, the modern selfie was born. While these can be fun, your smartphone also has a rear-facing camera that looks out at a fascinating world that deserves your attention. Learn to use your smartphone, your iPad, or any other camera you have to take photos of the world out there that are fun, creative, thought-provoking, and beautiful. As you learn the art and science of digital photography, you’ll develop your “photographer’s eye” in ways that transform how you see all that surrounds you.

THE FASTEST LITERARY MAGAZINE EVER MADE: A CRASH COURSE IN CREATIVE WRITING AND DESKTOP PUBLISHING, Mr. Luke Jacob

Every year, TVS Upper School students create the literary magazine Thalia and win dozens of statewide, regional, and national writing awards. Where does all of this start? With TVS’s creative writing classes. It’s time to branch out into the Middle School. Join us.

SHOW CHOIR, Mrs. Owen and Mr. Buratto

Let’s explore the fun of song and dance on stage. In this selective we will learn and perform choreographed pop songs and holiday numbers. Put on your dancing shoes, warm up your voice, and be ready for a fun semester of song and dance with Mrs. Owen and Mr. B.

TO BE INVISIBLE FOR A DAY, Mr. Juraj Nevjestic

In the fourth century B.C. the philosopher Plato recounted the legend of the Ring of Gyges (Guy-gees). Descending into a mysterious chasm one stormy night, a lowly shepherd “caught sight of a corpse which seemed of more than human stature, wearing nothing but a ring of gold on its finger.”  He would later discover that this ring granted its possessor the power of invisibility, and being seduced by a new and immense power, this ordinary man stole the throne of the kingdom by violence and crime.  In this class we will investigate the meaning of this story, search for similar stories–both ancient and new–about the effects of power, and construct our own myths of special powers and those who wield them.

MOVIE MAKING, Mrs. Anna Carlson

Move over J.J. Abrams, this selective is for our next generation of movie makers! My Selectives class will teach movie-making techniques to a group of students who will become our true historians and class videographers. The class will capture all of our wonderful moments on real time, and then save those moments to be shared with the larger Trinity Valley community. We have a brand new professional-grade JVC movie camera with shot-gun microphone and tripod!  Our first job will be to video our new and exciting Assemblies then take that video and upload it to software that will allow us to create awesome movie shorts. Join me if you are serious about movie making!

SPORTS AND SOCIETY, Mr. Gerry Cumpiano

Sports and society is a discussion-based course that analyzes societal issues through the lens of sports and vice versa. We will use current and past events relating to economics, race, religion, crime and a variety of other areas to help us, as individuals and a group, develop our own opinions and ideas through healthy debate and discussion. Our goal is to attempt to design a solution to these problems as people and athletes, while keeping our own personal character and values intact.

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